peo company

What Do Resumes & Icebergs Have In Common?


Why is a resume like an iceberg?

Unlike the Mad Hatter’s infamously unanswerable riddle in “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” (“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”), this analogy is fairly easy to explain.

It’s commonly said that only 10 percent of an iceberg is visible above the surface of the water. That means the overwhelming majority of the iceberg (90 percent) lies below the surface. The same is true of resumes.

While the resume is often an employer’s first interaction with a candidate, it can’t really give the employer the full picture of who a candidate is and understand who they are as a person. By design, resumes only show employers what the applicant thinks wants them to see, and the information recruiters and hiring managers really want to know (whether the candidate would be a good cultural fit for the organization, the extent of their skills and expertise, etc.) remains unseen, hidden beneath the surface of the resume.

There are hundreds of books, blogs and how-to articles that offer resume advice or instruct job seekers on the dos and don’ts of creating a resume. (We even featured one on our blog.) The wide availability of this information, coupled with the explosion of the resume-writing industry, the likelihood of a perfectly polished resume sliding across your desk has increased exponentially over past several years. It’s almost equally as likely now, unfortunately, that one of those perfectly polished resumes might, in fact, merely be an illusion disguising an ultimately unqualified applicant.

Think about it: Have you ever interviewed a candidate who had a fantastic resume, only to find out that they didn’t quite live up to the image their resume? Conversely, have you been surprised to find that a candidate whose resume didn’t necessarily “wow” you turned out to be the best candidate?

While the resume remains the foundation for the vast majority of job seekers and employers, so much of what determines whether a candidate would be successful at a given company simply can’t be put down on paper – personality, values, work ethic, etc. While experienced recruiters and hiring managers usually have a keen eye for talent and an ability to read between the lines of a resume, the same cannot be said for every person who regularly or occasionally makes hiring decisions.

So how can companies with limited resources or human resources expertise learn to look beyond the resume?

  1. Identify the qualities you value in your employees
    While qualities like “strong work ethic” and “personable” may be the first that come to mind, try to go beyond the obvious and identify what qualities the most successful employees at your company possess. For example, a software development company might value a certain level of intellectual curiosity over a strong sense of empathy. The reverse might be true for a call center.
  2. Conduct pre-employment assessments
    Pre-employment assessments give you great insight into who candidates are as people, allow you to evaluate the extent of a candidate’s particular skillset and help you better determine whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit for your organization.
  3. Ask the right questions during interviews
    The interview is your biggest opportunity to get beyond the surface of the resume. Asking the right questions, ones that ask the candidate to not only talk about what they have done and what experience they have, but also why they made particular decisions or how a specific experience affected them.


Often, the resume is the first opportunity for an employer to interact with an applicant. However, a resume alone isn’t enough for hiring managers or recruiters to know whether an applicant or candidate will be a good fit for a particular company. Basing a hiring decision solely on a resume or application is akin to buying a house sight unseen – you can never be too sure of what you’ll really get.

That’s why implementing a comprehensive recruitment process is key for employers of all sizes, from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies. Not every employer, however, has the internal resources or support needed to develop and implement such a strategy on their own.

G&A Partners, one of the nation’s leading professional employer organizations (PEO) for more than 20 years, offers a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution that delivers high-quality job candidates and measurable results while reducing hiring costs and ensuring that your organization remains in full compliance with federal, state and local regulations at every stage of the hiring process. 

Want to learn more about how RPO can benefit your business? Click the image below to watch our recent webinar: “Recruitment Process Outsourcing,” presented by Jose Laurel, G&A Partners’ Director of Recruitment Services.

Webinar-Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Comments are closed.

Let's talk

Sales Questions

(866) 927-6203

Contact a Business Advisor
Customer Care

(866) 927-6203

Contact Customer Care