Separated into two studies, the purpose of Study 1 was to examine 37 resumes in relation ‘to what extent individuals perceive both biographical information… and resume characteristics to be related to personality’. Study 2 examined 37 resumes in relation to ‘the extent that differences in applicants’ personality influence variability in resume content and style, and in turn, evaluations of the applicant by hiring professionals’. Essentially, the two studies explore differences in dispositional judgement between a common individual and a hiring professional. A total of 266 participants were involved in both studies and judgements were based on hireability for a managerial position.
Burns et al. conclude that ‘personality and perceptions of personality play a greater role in resume development and screening than has been previously suggested’. What this means is that resume reviewers possibly make personality and hireability judgements based on the specific resume cues you choose to provide. The results of both studies ironically suggest that reviewer personality also has a significant impact on applicant hireability. Study 1 indicated that ‘resume reviewers perceive a high level of connection between the author’s personality and both content and style cues’, whilst Study 2 maintains that ‘content and style cues can also play an important role in the evaluations that HR personnel make’. Personality can indeed be elicited from certain cues and they can also affect hireability ratings based on the five personality traits.
What we can take away from Burns et al.’s study is the importance of content and style in resumes. Whether or not these personality traits and cues are intentional is a different matter altogether, although they do offer us an excellent basis for determining what wording and stylistic cues we can intentionally exploit in resume preparation.