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Why the Best Hire Might Not Have the Perfect Resume?

Hiring is difficult. Finding candidates who have the skills and experience you need, who will turn into loyal employees, help grow your company, and contribute to your culture can be a daunting task. But, changing how you look at candidates could lead to your best hires. Hint: they may not have a “perfect” resume. Restructuring your process can also increase your hiring success and bring more diversity into your team.

Problems with traditional hiring can weed out brilliant individuals. In the StrategITcom Podcast episode “Connecting Women to Careers” Carrie Goetz, the host, and Delphine Carter, the CEO of Boulo, explore why firms miss out on outstanding team members. Learn how to overcome these issues to reap the benefits of diverse thinking and experience.

Read on to discover some challenges resumes present and how to read between their lines. We’ll also highlight some of the advantages of doing so.

3 Big Resume Based Hiring Misconceptions

Specific Resume Requirements Yield the Best Hires

Most job boards, such as Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and LinkedIn use outdated algorithms. This practice makes it practically impossible for generalists or those with non-linear careers to find work. As a result, many talented individuals fly under the radar.

Furthermore, HR hiring managers may lack a thorough understanding of the positions they’re attempting to fill. They may also feel like order takers. For example, managers are often told specific skills and degrees a person must have to be considered for a position. The talent acquisition teams must then work within the parameters set forth by the requirements.

But, according to Carrie Goetz, “a lot of people are a year or semester shy of a degree because they had to drop out of school. The reason may have nothing to do with their ability. And they worked for that semester or that year. So, that last year of college actually became a year of experience. But because they don’t have that exact degree, they aren’t hired.” And a company misses out on a valuable employee.

An ATS Finds All Relevant Candidates

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) also cause problems, owing to their keyword-driven nature. Keywords are used to help narrow candidate pools. The ATS removes a person missing the “right” keywords on their resume from the candidate pool. “Unfortunately, you end up weeding out some of the best resources you could have because they didn’t have the exact right keyword sitting on their resume,” says Goetz.

“Resumes look like social media, hashtag posts, where individuals have gone online and inserted the terms that need to be on there,” Delphine Carter agrees. “It’s a faulty system. Hiring managers should take their time to ensure they’re choosing someone for their full quality, not just because they had the five perfect keywords on their resume.”

Goetz goes on to give an example of someone she met who was looking for work. The individual had extensive and in-depth knowledge of a variety of CRM systems. But, when they met with the HR hiring manager, they were told, “but it’s not Oracle CRM. So, we’re going to pass on you.” CRMs, in reality, all do the same thing; there isn’t much variation between them. Managers can miss out on the best hires by failing to see parallel skills in resumes.

A Resume Gap Indicates Idleness

Traditional recruiting managers frequently ignore people with gaps in their resumes. Managers assume a resume gap indicates the candidate did not learn any skills or was idle during that time. Caregiving or other family responsibilities often compel someone to step out of the workforce. However, during this period, they may also gain valuable skills.

Some of the talents acquired are soft skills that benefit teams. Other abilities are more tangible. Yet, even the candidate may overlook them or be unsure how to display them on their resume. For instance, Carter recalls a story about a Boulo member who undervalued her own worth. During the onboarding process with Boulo, the member described her gap period as “just being a mom.” She also worked as a volunteer. Notably, this volunteer work included negotiating a city-wide contract for Promethean Boards (the Smart Boards found in schools).

“Hold up, people get paid to negotiate contracts,” we told her. “Just because you’re doing something for free doesn’t mean it’s not work. There are businesses that will value you for it.”

However, the recruiting systems in place today would not adequately account for this candidate’s abilities. Her contract negotiation – essentially technical procurement – would have been classified as volunteer work and undervalued by most systems. In fact, it was really a valuable skill that she acquired.

6 Benefits of Reading Between the Resume Lines

Instead of merely looking at a resume, consider each candidate as a whole person. Try to recognize the value that a person delivers. The firms that hire candidates with a less than ideal resume often gain a diverse range of perspectives, experience, and, in some cases, grit to their workforce.

Value of a Broad Viewpoint

Take, for example, someone hired in an IT function with a different type of company or industry background. This person brings a unique perspective and thought diversity. Working for a manufacturer and then transitioning to a consulting company, or vice versa, provides a wealth of background and experience. Diverse experiences contribute to a unique viewpoint that a new employee can bring to your team. But requiring specific background experience means you could miss out on an ideal candidate.

Benefit from a Wide Range of Experience

Managers frequently overlook experience if someone lacks a specialized degree. Goetz recently spoke with a 12-year tech veteran. She was being passed over for job after job because she lacked a specific degree. “I was in college, but I couldn’t even tell you anything I remember from college,” she told Goetz.

Carter concurs. “There are experts who have demonstrated their worth through a wide range of experience rather than a specific degree. Staying in one sector, such as marketing, does not necessarily provide value. Someone who has worked in sales, project management, and now is working in technology brings a lot of value to the table. All of that life experience builds an interesting person.”

“It does.” Goetz agreed. “A person who can work with and understand the pain points of other departments is valuable to an organization. They know what works and understand the process. It cuts out a lot of training time. And it brings a different perspective.”

Grit and Determination for Your Team

Grit: Defined as courage and strength of character. A person with true grit has passion and perseverance. Goals are set and then achieved.

Another reason to consider hiring someone whose resume is not “ideal.? Grit. There are intangible benefits to someone who works hard to earn certifications to supplement their own “boots on the ground” learning. According to Carter, these people bring “a little bit of grit that I love. I once had a self-taught developer on my team who also passed all of the certifications. He brought a fight to the team that was extremely valuable.”

“Plug and Play” Generalist

Smaller companies often have the agility and willingness to take chances on hiring someone without a “perfect” resume. Therefore, they often gain employees with the ability to contribute in many ways.

“With Boulo, we’ve found that small to medium sized businesses under 500 employees are the perfect fit for our moms. They’re ready to onboard them quickly. They also love a generalist. They bring a candidate on their team to contribute this one skill. But they know they can utilize them in a variety of other ways. Their mentality is, we’ve built our businesses by wearing 18 hats. Everybody on the team is going to have to wear 20 hats.” And a generalist is prepared to pivot and contribute where needed.

Intentional Hiring Increases Diversity

Recruiting candidates with less-than-perfect resumes also ideally equips companies to address diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges. Begin by carefully considering how you develop your network. “There’s so many companies that hire somebody that’s recommended to them. If you recruit folks you hang out with, drink beer with, or go golfing with, etc., you’re not going to get a lot of diversity,” Goetz says.

Take a look at your team and ask yourself, “What’s missing?” Because customer bases are usually diverse, small businesses gain from purposefully hiring for diversity. A diverse workforce base boosts mindshare with more customers. Looking beyond the resume at the whole person increases your access to a diverse workforce.


“Having been a manager for most of my career, I know that when you invest in people, you earn loyalty. That loyalty is something you don’t necessarily get if HR brings you a person that just has the specific skill requirements,” say Goetz. But investing in someone who may lack some specific skills but has aptitude, and providing an environment where they can learn and grow, can build tremendous loyalty.

Goetz contrasts this idea with someone recently graduated that may check the HR resume boxes but has massive amounts of debt. Because of their debt, they’re always chasing their next biggest paycheck. “You risk spending a year a year and a half growing their skills, only to train them for your competition.”


To find your best hires, change the way that you look at candidates, including those without a “perfect” resume. Traditional hiring methods include specific degree and/or skill requirements, keyword-based systems, and discounting those with resume gaps. The result: companies miss out on quality candidates.

But, if you are willing to take a chance and consider the whole person, your company will benefit. You will add new viewpoints, experience, and more grit on your team. You’ll find generalists ready to contribute in many different areas and open yourself to more diverse hires. Finally, you will earn incredible loyalty from your employees.

“My words of wisdom are: when you see a resume that looks a little bit different, but there’s something there, just interview them,” Carter concludes. “It’s 30 minutes out of your day. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn from just a handful of those experiences, and the amazing people that you’ll end up hiring despite them not having the perfect resume.”

You can listen to the entire conversation here.

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