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Evaluating Resumes in a COVID-19 Era: Helping Employers Navigate These 5 New Realities

Evaluating Resumes in a COVID-19 Era: Helping Employers Navigate These 5 New Realities

Since the beginning of COVID-19 we have seen an increase in candidate applications for new roles. As we’ve blogged about earlier this year, higher applicant numbers does not mean higher applicant quality.

There are however a number of ways executive search firms can help navigate some of the new realities of what employers are seeing on resumes during a COVID-19 era to help filter and understand candidates better to ensure you capture the highest qualified prospects for a new role at your company.


Candidates are indicating expected registration/completion dates for professional designations/licenses. Eg. Professional Engineering examinations have seen delays since the start of the pandemic. Candidates are providing timelines on expected examination dates.

Executive search professionals have the experience to explain license and designation processes to employers. This understanding can be crucial in scarce skill searches such as P.Eng (engineering), CPA (finance) and CISSP/CISM (cyber security).

Additional certifications:

Candidates are taking advantage of greater access to online skill training. Employers can expect to see a larger ‘skill/certification’ section on resumes.

Executive search professionals can help decipher the legitimacy/depth of these additional certifications candidates are presenting. Search firms consist of astute professionals who come from diverse backgrounds – this diversity is a strength that can help contextualize the value of additional certifications. Eg. At Keynote we have team members from psychology, marketing, law, non-profit organizations, politics and finance backgrounds who keep tabs on changes in each industry and the value of educational institutions and online courses.

Delayed graduates:

Some candidates have seen delayed graduation dates due to the unavailability of online course teachings. Employers can expect to see greater detail about degree/diploma completion timelines in resumes.

Executive search professionals interact directly with the candidate and have a greater knowledge of the extent of delays and their effects on the candidates’ future study commitments. Search firms often have close relationships with academic institutions and training bodies – this is vital insider knowledge on how the pandemic is impacting the availability of highly skilled candidates.

Remote work preferences:

It is more apparent than ever that candidates are making employment decisions based on a myriad of factors, including remote work/virtual work. Some candidates are expressly seeking remote work, which is a section of the resume that has moved to the forefront.

Executive search professionals can tailor interview questions to gain insight as to whether prospective candidates have the ability to work with remote teams. Given the fluid nature of 2020/21, executive search professionals can also communicate a candidate’s expectations ahead of the onboarding process to ensure the successful integration of new team members.

Career pivoting:

Not only are we seeing a hybridization of roles as businesses weather financial constraints, but we are also seeing candidates rise to the broadened demands. Candidates are highlighting previous experience not ordinary seen in their specific career track. This can make resumes more detailed/lengthy putting strain on internal hiring resources.

Eg. Financial professionals are highlighting their previous experience with information technology systems or a legal candidate who is drawing on operational expertise gained through board roles.

Executive search professionals are skilled in navigating broad role descriptions and resumes to identify key cross-functional skills. They are also adept at broadening search criteria to capture a broader candidate pool. The executive search process is more in-depth than the traditional hiring process, this deep-dive can bring to light the skills and abilities of candidates not obvious in the text of a resume.