What does your resume say about you?

Photograph by Jay Beauvais — Build-A-Bear Workshop

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What are three things you look for in a resume? is written by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.

As a CEO, I generally only interview a candidate if they have already been vetted for the experience and education necessary for the position. Therefore, my role in the interview process is often more about corporate fit. This means I am looking for talented people who uphold my company’s core values and who have the potential to be future leaders of our organization. Today’s corporate world is changing rapidly, so it’s possible that the position we are hiring for today may not exist tomorrow, which is why I also look for overall intelligence and flexibility. Basically, I like to hire people–not positions. So how do you spot these often elusive qualities on a piece of paper?

Well, in seeking a sense of values and intelligence, I first try to get an overall feeling of the individual from the essence of the resume. What does the resume imply that isn’t actually typed on the page? How is it arranged? Does a “personality” or a “passion” emerge? Basically, what makes them tick?

Second, for a sense of drive and flexibility, I look for growing levels of corporate impact in either an expansion of business oversight or an increase in responsibility, particularly at the same organization. Promotions within one company are more meaningful to me than seeing promotions only coming from switching companies. Often with the increase in scale or scope, I look for some indication that the candidate was willing to take on a challenge (such as a temporary international assignment or a short term project for the corporation that had a clear deliverable).

And lastly, my third point is more about what I don’t want to see. Typos, inconsistencies, grammatical errors, and overselling are red flags for me. Overselling comes in the form of overstatements or the overuse of “I.” It can also come in the form of a resume that is too long for the years of experience. There are plenty of very powerful resumes for seasoned executives with a lifetime of achievement successfully captured in two pages. If you are a mid-level manager, with a three or four page resume, you may want to reconsider.

Remember, the “job” of the resume is to interest the hiring manager and compel them to reach out to you. It does not have to tell the whole story–that’s what the interview is for.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What are three things you look for in a resume?

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