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The Best Candidate Rarely Has the Best Resume

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 3, 2020

It’s common knowledge among experienced hiring managers that less qualified candidates often have great resumes, and more qualified candidates often have mediocre resumes. In my experience, the best qualified candidate for a job is rarely the person who looks best on paper. Things are no different later in the hiring sequence - the candidate who offers the most polished interview answers is not always the person best qualified to do the job.

There’s a reason for that … practice.

If you are not good at doing work, you need to be really good at finding work — you need to be good at landing interviews and good at being interviewed. When you have a career pattern of needing to change jobs every 12 to 18 months, you get lots of practice looking for work. (That said, pandemics cause a different dynamic - lots of terrific people are getting separated from their employers - the economic impact varies widely across different industry sectors. Pandemic related job-seeking is not a personal career pattern, it's an unfair, and random misfortune.)

People who are great at delivering results get far less practice looking for work. They get promoted and stay a long time in one organization, or their boss brings them along when the boss changes firms. So the loyal, hardworking types get less practice looking for jobs and interviewing. They are hard at work while the job market swirls along without them, just beyond the walls of the organization.

When the hard workers do hit the job market, their job search skills are rusty, so they are often mediocre in their ability to craft a winning resume or to shine in an interview. That's because what it takes to succeed at work and what it takes to succeed in the hiring process are very different skills. Nothing in your normal job responsibilities, and nothing in your daily life prepares you to interview well. Interviews are not normal conversations. They have hidden rules and expectations. And video interviews make the problem worse.

So when you are hiring, don’t limit yourself to the best looking resumes, be sure to also consider the people who have less practice at self-promotion.

Topics: Hiring Managers, Hiring Process, Recruiting Executives, Reading Resumes