When Do Resumes Lead to Hiring Recommendations?

A common feature of the job application process that many practitioners involved with human resource management are familiar with is the résumé. As the first contact that human resources personnel, managers, and recruiters often have with a given applicant, résumés are generally considered to be an important part of the application for many jobs. However, while the overall importance of this document is well-recognized, the reasons for its importance remain something of a mystery.

In the current state of the research, uncertainty remains as to how specific information communicated in résumés is used by personnel involved in the hiring process to make evaluations about applicants. To help address this issue, a new study by Chien-Cheng Chen and colleagues proposes a model that specifies how certain résumé characteristics, including content and style, influence recruiters’ perceptions of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) of job applicants, and, consequently, how these perceptions impact recruiters’ evaluations of job applicants.


The authors’ proposed model examines how four features of résumés (academic qualifications, work experience, extracurricular activities, and résumé aesthetics) are related to recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ job-related knowledge, interpersonal skills, general mental ability, and conscientiousness. In turn, the authors then examined the link between these perceptions and recruiters’ evaluations (i.e. if they recommended hiring a particular employee). Using structural equation modeling, the authors found that each of the four résumé characteristics they examined are substantially related to recruiters’ perceptions of applicants. In particular, it was found that academic qualifications were strongly related to perceptions of applicants’ general mental ability, while work experience and extracurricular activities were related to job-related knowledge and interpersonal skills, respectively. In terms of the perceptions that recruiters held about applicants, interpersonal skills were more strongly related to hiring recommendations than job-related knowledge or interpersonal skills, though these perceptions appear to be important as well.


The results of this study point to the fact that recruiters (and likely other professionals who review résumés as well) can and do make attributions about the characteristics of job applicants based on certain features of applicants’ résumés. As our understanding of how certain features of résumés impact perceptions of job applicants increases, the use of résumé screening as an initial selection tool may be increased.


Chen, C.- C., Huang, Y.- M., & Lee, M.- I. (2011). Test of a model linking applicant résumé information and hiring recommendations. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 19, 374-387.

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