Résumé Quirks to Embrace and Avoid

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Evaluating employment candidates and selecting the right one for critical positions with your business isn't easy. Asking questions that focus on work-related tasks and clarify skills while avoiding illegal ones are essential to qualifying prospective employees, as Thursday recommended in Questions You Can't Ask When Hiring. Many candidates don't have a flawless background: they could be perfect matches or potentially bad hires.

To gain deeper insight into a candidate's capabilities, take a moment to consider how certain quirks, unusual career paths, etc. might benefit your business. Long-time sources of angst for both hiring decision-makers and candidates are frequent job changes (or "job hopping") and listing of personal activities on résumés. Another concern, appearing more frequently than ever, is the influence of side businesses on employee dedication.

Here are techniques for evaluating candidates with just a few résumé and work-related quirks.

Job hopping

Changing jobs frequently is often viewed as a disqualifier and the job-hopping reputation as a label to be avoided. Even though the days of career-long union with one employer are long gone, candidates still fret about having held multiple jobs in relatively short periods of time and employers still frown upon frequent moves. As a business owner, you'll need to vet the candidates who pursue challenge and those who move aimlessly from one position to the next.

In an interview, ask: Can you tell me why you chose to work for Companies 1, 2, and 3? What challenges did you overcome at Companies 1, 2, and 3?

Embracethose who have been recruited for specified talents or changed jobs to take advantage of opportunities for professional growth. Pursue those who have contributed more to their employers than they have cost not only for salary and benefits but also recruitment and training. Consider extenuating circumstances such as company relocations and restructuring that may have led to greater-than-average career moves. Also, note that changing jobs every five to 10 years can strengthen adaptability to new workplaces.

Avoidthose who seem only to be hired by one lousy company after the next. Even the best candidates make bad selections in employers, but they learn from their mistakes so that job hopping isn't endless or fruitless in terms of skills enhancement. Not-so-great candidates can't seem to get a handle on what type of company, position, and environment suits their capabilities.

Business ownership

There's a persistent concern that owning and running a business, in addition to holding down a job, may distract an employee from the employer's needs. Being cautious is reasonable but having a side income shouldn't be a reason to pass over an otherwise-qualified candidate or make a job-seeker hide business ownership from potential employers.

In an interview, ask: What motivated you to start a business? What have you learned from running your own business? What business-ownership skills do you think will be most useful in this position with my company?

Embrace those who have sought to expand professional capabilities and gain experience in areas that will benefit your company (e-commerce or social media, for example), and uncovered and serviced unmet market needs successfully. But even those who may not have experienced significant success may have gained deeper appreciation for the difficulty of achieving company profit goals while balancing customer expectations and employee needs. And, consider that some may have opted out of the traditional workforce for a time to meet personal obligations, such as navigating a spouse's relocation or staying in one geographic area until children graduate from high school.

Avoidthose who run businesses that require constant surveillance and have insufficient management support, such as a high-traffic mall retailer. And, if you are hiring for a position that requires frequent travel and overtime hours, consider the impact of managing multiple accountabilities along with juggling work and side-business schedules.


Infusing personality and personal interests into candidate's marketing materials (résumés, LinkedIn profiles, tweets, etc.) might indicate that a candidate won't be able to focus on the business at hand. But it's just as likely that the candidate is able to better manage stress and interact with diverse groups of people as a result of outside interests.

In an interview, ask: How has your involvement in _________ (rock climbing, PTA board membership, fraternity or sorority leadership, etc.) helped you to make workplace contributions? Where do you draw the line between personal and professional activities? How do you manage your time?

Embracethose who have a strong record of accomplishments in varied environments (small business, corporate, and non-profit realms, for example). They are able to leverage their professional capabilities, interpersonal skills, and personality to achieving organizational goals.

Avoidthose who have few or no accomplishments. It's likely that their personal interests will take precedence over work-related duties.

Quirks or not, candidates who make valuable employees will convey how they've consistently applied professional capabilities, personal attributes, and innate strengths to delivering results. Ask thoughtful questions; let candidates reveal who they are, how they make decisions, what motivates them, and how they've overcome challenges. Then you'll know who to hire.

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