Some people believe government managers who hire people they know personally or who bring on board the acquaintances of their friends and family members are disgraces to the merit-based civil service system. For some GovLoop members, that type of thinking is not just unrealistic. It’s dangerous.

According to Josh Nankivel, a project management coach, consumers who are in the market for a new kitchen appliance do more than just compare product spec sheets. They also ask for referrals from people they trust, draw upon previous experiences with different manufacturers, try out floor models for themselves and engage in other due diligence activities.

“All of these factors come into a decision; so why would anyone think that in the case of hiring a new employee, you should limit yourself” to only looking at an applicant’s resume?

Nankivel believes a resume is just the beginning. How a person handles an interview, whether a hiring manager has prior knowledge of the person’s qualifications, and what trusted sources say about the applicant all matter-and should be taken into account if government is to end up with the best possible workforce.

In other words, precluding employers from considering what their friends and family have to say about a job applicant-or what they themselves may have seen first-hand-forces them to make less-than-fully-informed hiring decisions. As a result, they’re likely to end up with less-than-ideal employees.

Other GovLoop members think the resume should help an applicant stand out.

As web communications director Jeffrey Levy can attest, far too many job seekers do a poor job of using their resumes to direct potential employers to examples of their work.

“If you’re a webbie, provide URLs in your resume” to show off what you can do, Levy said. “If you’re a writer, provide URLs for articles.”

Having a website under your own domain name is another smart move, several members agreed.

“I frequently recommend to people who are looking for a job to be sure that their information [should be] presented as a marketing brochure rather than a list of job responsibilities,” said Kathleen Smith, chief marketing officer at a website for job seekers with security clearances.

Still, too fancy a resume risks turning off more traditional hiring managers.

“My mentor’s first cut of submitted resumes was to toss out all of the ones that were on colored paper, oddly sized paper, and/or were otherwise designed to stand out by their appearance alone!” said Bryan Conway, a financial systems analyst for the Department of Defense. “Visual appeal won’t short-circuit the system that the reviewer has for selecting resumes.”

The challenge, it seems, is striking an appropriate balance between overly flashy and utterly forgettable.