How to Read a Resume for Culture Fit

Have you ever wondered how to read a resume to get the best understanding of the candidate’s fit for the job? What’s the most important part to focus on?

Is it the objective? Is it where you went to school? Maybe it’s your last employer?

Google’s staffing director discusses how to read a resume

It’s not any of those things. Well, not according to Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google. He believes the most important part of the resume is the bottom portion, where people normally list things like hobbies, activities, volunteer experience, etc.

Candidates\’ early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture.” source

I think that’s a great idea, and I’d have to agree that it could be valuable for ascertaining a person’s culture fit. Many professionals drop those kinds of information from their resume in order to fit in the valuable experience gleaned at other positions, so you could be missing plenty of them with a great history of volunteering and social activities if you’re only scanning resumes.

That’s where the next point comes in…

Stop reading resumes altogether

In the video below Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters, brings an even more radical approach to the one above: get rid of resumes and use “profiles” instead. I like the idea, but I don’t know how feasible it is. Frankly, it’s easier for any company to sort through ten resumes than it is to sort through ten profiles for candidates.

And despite there being hundreds of great career resources on the web, some job seekers still have ugly resumes, poor interviewing skills, and no real career plan. Then again, that does weed the technically ignorant folks from the hiring pool (at least until they catch on). Check out the video below for more ideas on how we can get rid of resumes once and for all.

24 thoughts on “How to Read a Resume for Culture Fit

  1. Michael Lindsey

    This is a great article. I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with your position on the importance of the extracurricular activities and hobbies. The bottom of the resume can provide useful insights into predicting the performance of a job applicant.

    Furthermore the culture of a company and the dynamics of a team are extremely crucial to consider when hiring. Job applicants may be completely qualified on a paper resume, but how will they actually interact with an existing team?

    As an employee, you are not expected to become your co-worker’s best friend, but you are expected to be able to get along and perform. Its important to evaluate how well someone will fit in with your team before hiring them.

    Thanks for the good read!

  2. Josh Tolan

    Very interesting post! You\’re right, more and more employees are dropping their “personality” from their resumes in order to fit in their qualifications and experience. Most people don\’t think these personality aspects are important, especially in this tough market. But of course they\’re wrong, because fit is essential in hiring. Perhaps hiring managers and job seekers should consider including this personality information in a video resume, which shows off not just personality but also soft skills like communication.

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