3 Characteristics To Look For In Candidate Resumes

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“What’s important to you?” “What are your core values?” “Why are you who you are, and what’s the history that made you that way?” 

These are a couple of questions we use all the time during the interview process that helps us discern and clarify whether a candidate is a cultural fit for a particular role. If you’ve spent any time reading or listening to Vanderbloemen content, you’ve likely heard us talk about culture. Being a person of high character is part of being a culture fit. As William says, “culture trumps competency.” As we are interviewing candidates, we have to keep in mind whether someone is a culture fit or not. If they are, we can have greater confidence that they’ll be a long-term fit for the client. 

These questions funnel into a process to lead the Vanderblomen team through candidate selection. Vanderblomen is honored to serve a set of diverse clients— we have clients across every denomination and regional influence. And because we have diverse clients, we want to make sure that each candidate we recommend to move on through the process is a great character fit for the role and aligns with the client’s values. 

Whether you want to apply it practically in your own interviewing, or you are a candidate yourself hoping to capture a chance for an interview, there are a few key things to look for in a resume to figure out if someone is a good fit for your faith-based organization or church staff. 

As a real-life illustration, here’s a story of a candidate (we’ll call him Steve) to show you what to look for in the process, all the way from a resume to the interview. 

1. Notice preparation. 

Steve had a welcoming resume with a family portrait. He described his experience and accomplishments clearly and with confidence. He wrote out a thoughtful cover letter and took the time to fill out a candidate profile, which is a process that takes time and effort. These were the early indicators his values aligned with the client. 

Just as you likely expect a candidate to do their research on you before they have an interview with you, you should also do your homework. Pay attention to resumes or other samples or documents a candidate submits. If you’re looking for someone who is a highly detailed leader, a detailed resume is a great start. On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone with a keenly creative eye, an aesthetically pleasing portfolio of graphic design samples can be a great jumping-off point as you explore whether the person is a great fit. Likewise, as a candidate, remember that your application and resume are the first things that allow your potential employer to learn about you. This is your chance! In each of these examples, you’ll notice that preparation is key to making a great first impression.

2. The way someone talks can sometimes tell you more about a person than what they are actually saying. 

A phone screen is a simple and more informal conversation the candidate has with the hiring manager. During Steve’s phone screen, he kept his confident tone but spoke with humility about a time when as a leader, he was able to encourage others to be themselves and contribute to the conversation. During a phone conversation, look for traits such as humility, honor, and the ability to influence. Candidates like Steve who can display this will answer questions directly and move through the conversation gracefully. It was clear through his responses that he did his homework; he researched the job he was applying for and was willing to invest not just his time, but also his heart. 

To top things off, he sent a handwritten note to our team and organization to thank us for our time and consideration. This showed that he was engaged, grateful and that he was truly interested in this role in particular. Sending a note after an interview is a thoughtful way to build on your first impression.

3. Your words hold power. 

When Steve was moved to the next round of interviews by our consultants, he shared with them that he was encouraged and in ways transformed by our process. This got back to the researcher and made them feel really valued in their part of the process. He mentioned that he was honored to have the opportunity to be considered, even though he was clearly qualified for this job. He took a humble approach to these follow-up conversations, and in his humility, he gave the researcher a feeling of purpose, while demonstrating the culture of honor that he cultivates.  

As a potential employer, remember that candidates are investing a lot of time, interest, hopes, and effort into considering a role. Make sure your words in the follow-up conversation are kind, clear, and prompt. As a recruiter, your timeliness is a great way to make someone feel like they are valued, even if you have to deliver bad news. 

As a candidate, you can do the same and employ some “ridiculous responsiveness” and respond enthusiastically and on time to follow up emails or next step assignments. And taking a cue from Steve, know that your words have the power to build up, encourage, and empower others, just as much as they have the power to do the opposite, especially if you’re considering a role in a leadership position. 

Steve is a candidate that has made an impact on our team. The researcher shared this experience with the rest of us and he’s one that we won’t forget any time soon. He set the benchmark for excellence and value alignment with the client. 

When candidates display their values openly and with conviction, the search for the perfect match becomes smoother for the client, the candidate, and Vanderbloemen. It’s a win-win for everyone. Remember these tips whether you’re interviewing or being interviewed. 

For the Vanderbloemen team, successful searches remind us of how honored we are to play a part in placing people into their divine calling and advance the kingdom of God alongside you.

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