Hiring managers and job applicants have similar goals but approach them from different perspectives. One perspective focuses on choosing the most qualified applicant for the position, the other perspective centers on highlighting the past experience that casts the applicant in the best light. Unfortunately, these two do not always mesh.

A strong resume, unfortunately, can be a detriment.

It is not uncommon that even the most qualified applicant with the best resume gets passed over during the hiring process. This can have little to do with the vetting process itself, but other factors such as frame of mind and preconceived notions. In truth, anything on a resume can be turned either into a positive mark … or a negative one.

How is this possible?

We can look at two simple examples to illustrate the point.

  • Too many jobs? Clearly this person is a job hopper. Decades ago, it used to be that a person got a job after school and stayed there until retirement. Slowly, this changed, and workers now use experience from one job as a spring-board into another job at another organization. Many believe that one of the main factors of this change lies in the ease of use for job searches. No longer do people have to search the classified ads in newspapers or go business-to-business dropping off resumes. Now, the entirety of the nation’s job openings are at an applicant’s fingertips – on the Internet.
  • Stayed too long in one job? No marketable skills, clearly. It is the flip side of the earlier example. Many workers choose to stay at the same job in the same position for years on end. That is to say that this particular employee chose the right position – a job that he or she was good at and that made him or her happy. Unfortunately, many HR departments might find this a negative. With the previously-mentioned ease-of-search, how is it possible that a person simply did not change jobs?

It is crucial that hiring managers – whether in a large organization or a family-owned business – remember to remove any prejudices or preconceived notions before scheduling the first interview. Even before screening a resume. People might think that discrimination only occurs on the basis of age, race or gender, but this is not the case. Managers and supervisors need to remember that each applicant must be treated as a unique situation to avoid the appearance of impropriety.