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Making sure an applicant is more than just buzzwords

Put a resume to the test to ensure an applicant is more than just buzzwords.

When you set out to hire a new IT worker, the first thing to do is read through incoming resumes. You'll likely skim them looking for words that catch your eye and align well with your vision for the right candidate. However, the phrases and vernacular used on the resume could have just been taken from the posting or exaggerated to get through the interview process. You must ensure that the applicant is more than just buzzwords and put their resume to the test.

1. Contact references

Before going any further, ask the applicant for references if none were provided with the resume. Calling a candidate's former places of employment can shed a lot of light on their true skills and their ability as a potential member of your staff. However, resumes can include misrepresentations of their skills. This often comes from flagrant use of buzzwords and no reference follow-up. In fact, only 14 percent of employers contact references. This can lead to a person filling a position that they are unqualified for.

Conducting a reference check will help vet applicant skills.Conducting a reference check will help vet applicant skills.

2. Identify most overused buzzwords

There are a number of resources for applicants to use to incorporate buzzwords and get past robot filters to get their resume into your hand. It will be important for you to recognize these overused phrases and determine if the candidate digs any deeper into these qualifications. For instance, skills like "exceptional communicator" don't say very much if there are no underlying examples to back them up, Business Insider noted. Similar things can be said for the following overused buzzwords:

  • Leadership
  • Best of breed
  • Seasoned
  • Results-driven
  • Highly qualified
  • Team player
  • Ambitious

There are plenty more buzzwords that are in this list, but suffice it to say that applicants should have examples to back up their skill set.

"You should specifically look for when and where skills were used on the job."

3. Look for specific examples

It's easy enough for a candidate to say that they are a leader, but did they demonstrate this fact in their resume? Applicants will load up their resumes with buzzwords to rise to the top of your search results, but the resume should indicate hands-on experience. Dice noted that you should specifically look for when and where skills were used on the job. Getting examples of related accomplishments from the very beginning will help weed out unqualified individuals to focus on top candidates.

4. Conduct a skills test

If an applicant cruised through the first three steps, put their skills through an actual test. In-person evaluations are often better indicators to ensure a person's capabilities, but these aren't always possible. Creating a specific test for applicants can vet their competence. However, applicants could possibly cheat on online tests to get through to the next stage. To offset these possibilities, organizations should use a form of both in-person and online vetting to get the right fit the first time.

Getting the right candidate is a long process, and you want to ensure that you're hiring the most skilled individual possible. Take screening to another level with the platform from ProSource IT to validate that a candidate really has all the buzzwords.

We have a proven methodology that identifies, evaluates and delivers qualified professionals to help support your critical initiatives. We focus on your position specifications as well as business objectives and use quality employment practices for expert execution. For more information, contact us today.