What to Make of Resumes with No Theme in Employment

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When you post a job ad, most of the resumes you receive will have a central career theme. Usually, the positions the candidate includes align in some way, such as mostly being in a single industry or reflecting work in a particular field.

However, that doesn’t mean you won’t come across the occasional resume with no clear theme in their employment history. This can be a bit perplexing, making it harder to determine what the candidate has to offer and if they are worth pursuing.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to determine if the applicant should be invited in for an interview or if their resume should be sent to the discard pile. Here are a few options that can help you figure out what to make of a resume with no theme in employment.

Consider Your Open Position

While a lack of a theme in a candidate’s work history often seems like a red flag, it isn’t wise to discard them immediately. Instead, you need to determine whether pursuing such a candidate is a risk based on the nature of the position you want to fill.

For example, if you are working to find candidates for an entry-level role, a lack of a clear theme in employment might not be an issue. Many younger workers try out a few fields before settling on one, or they may have worked a range of positions while pursuing an education that relates to your open position, using the jobs to simply pay the bills until they could develop a level of expertise in a specific area.

However, if the candidate lists 10 or more years of seemingly random roles and doesn’t have recent education that aligns with the job you want to fill, you might have more reason to be concerned. Similarly, if you are trying to fill a mid- to upper-level role, being wary could be a smart move. It’s possible the candidate doesn’t actually know what they want to do or can’t seem to be satisfied anywhere, both of which could be red flags.

Take a Closer Look

While a candidate’s work history may seem disjointed, it is possible there is an underlying theme that isn’t overly obvious at first glance. Instead of relying solely on job titles to assess whether there is a theme, look at their duties and accomplishments to see if they create a larger pattern.

For example, a person may have numerous positions that don’t seem connected, but all of their roles involved tasks like budgeting and financial recordkeeping, then they may have the skills to work in certain finance or accounting roles. It is possible that, through this wide range of jobs, they discovered their passion for those tasks, leading them to pursue entry-level opportunities in those fields.

However, if there is no pattern in their duties, then that could be a red flag. If the candidate sent a cover letter with their resume, consider reading it to see if they provide any insight regarding their scattered work history and interest in this role. If they don’t include those details or their explanation is insufficient, then you may want to move on to the next applicant.

Ultimately, a lack of a career theme should be treated with caution, but you don’t have to discard them immediately. See if any of the situations above apply and then decide if the candidate is worth pursuing.

If you’d like to know more, the staff at VB can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our resume screening expertise can benefit you.

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