Old school vs. alternative approaches to reading a resume

I am 65 years old and have been in the executive search business for 35 years. Having reviewed thousands of resumes, there are some things I initially focus on.

First, I look for gaps in a resume to see if someone was unemployed for any length of time. The second quick observation will be to determine if the person is a “job hopper,” in which a new job every two years or less would constitute a red flag.

I always have been of the mindset to try and find reasons why a candidate might be a fit for my client.

Other concerns can come up like the resume is poorly written with spelling or grammatical errors; the person clearly is overselling his or herself and taking too much personal credit for company accomplishments; or the formatting of the resume is too confusing to figure out what and where the person has done things.

Times change and sometimes you hear a perspective you would not have considered before, which forces you to re-evaluate your thinking. I would like to focus on one, which is “job hopping.”

I have recruited for several companies in which the ownership was outside the U.S. They have included the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Canada.

They are all a little different but as a general rule, these companies wanted to see candidates who have worked for several companies.

They like candidates who can share new ideas and approaches and who have a better perspective on best practices.

Of course, they are interested in knowing if the candidate left because it was his or her choice or because he or she was terminated for cause. They put a great value in “intellectual curiosity” and the need to be lifelong learners. They like it when a person left one company for another because the candidate was seeking a new challenge.

This is a lot different approach than my father or I have experienced.

In the past, you worked at a company and unless the company had problems, you hated your boss or the company was sold or relocated you stayed there because it was comfortable and predictable.

There was a sense of loyalty the company had for you and you had for the company. You understood the expectations and how your performance was going to be measured. You were rewarded for years of service and appreciated for your industry knowledge and wisdom for knowing what was coming because you had so many years of experience. You might have had a pension plan, which truly rewarded your loyalty.

Have times changed, especially with the relationship between the company and employees due to mergers and acquisitions, relocations and venture capital firms taking over with five-year plans until they exit.

Private equity groups with buy and hold strategies have been involved and some companies with short-term thinking and/or long-term family businesses with no succession plan are being sold.

The bottom line is, people can lose their jobs and it has nothing to do with their performance, or they leave because they know what is coming.

New bosses with different agendas and ownership are looking for short-term gains or public companies that might be more worried about quarterly results than long-term steady profitability can be reasons why people leave.

So to be totally honest, I’ve been enlightened in regards to my views on “job hoppers.”

I have to ask more questions and make less assumptions. There is value in people working at different companies and people with intellectual curiosity can make a difference for my clients.

What we do know for sure that with 5G coming and AI becoming a factor for all businesses, there are major changes coming to what types of jobs will be around and which ones are going to disappear.

Those people who are comfortable with change, who seek new opportunities to learn, who value challenges over comfort level will be in a better position to take advantage of a new world economy.