Screening Resumes – How to Find the Right Candidate for the Job

screening resumes
Selecting and hiring the best talent for your company is an art form. If you do it well, you’re virtually assured of success in business. Wading through endless resume responses to your job posts is daunting, and screening applicants feels like an awful task that takes you away from your work – which is why most managers dread hiring.

There’s a widely published statistic that professional recruiters only spend about 6 seconds evaluating each resume. How’s that for efficiency? The pros know that the screening process doesn’t need to be an arduous task. Here are 5 tips for screening resumes that will help you hire like a pro:

1. Spot Achievers: Hiring for potential is a very important part of any selection process. As the person screening applicants, you never want to let a potential star sneak through the cracks. Be on the lookout for resumes that show quantified professional achievements, long tenures at key jobs, promotions within the same company, academic achievement, hobbies that show risk tolerance or proactive natures, and/or external validations like industry honors.

2. Stay Focused: It’s easy to bag applicants quickly on assumptions or based on false job requirements. Before you begin looking at resumes, make sure that you have a laser-focused vision of the exact real requirements of the job. For instance, don’t disqualify people without a college degree out of hand, even if the job does not really require a degree. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of looking for an intangible rather than concrete qualifications. Make a list of requirements that you absolutely need, and then let your brain quickly evaluate resumes based on this short, highly focused list.

3. Eliminate Quickly: The easiest way to quickly get through resumes is to narrow applicants by logistics – meaning simple, practical things like pay, location, and job experience. For example, if you’re not accepting out of state employees, you can quickly use that as must-have criteria. Or that person who states in their objective that they want 1.3x your max salary – just eliminate them. You certainly always want to be on the lookout for achievers and exceptional fits, but a lot of successful professional recruiters look for the obvious first – the old saying of “don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole” is used a lot in the recruiting business.

4. Leverage Technology: Can the process by which you screen resumes be improved through technology? There are a host of new hiring technologies that can make the hiring process easier and more efficient – many of these technologies were built for large companies that have to efficiently sort through thousands of applicants. Video interviewing software and automated resume matching software might give you a further boost in your productivity – try out a few market leaders and see if they help. Additionally, be sure to automate the actual process of screening – use automatic email templates for rejecting or accepting applicants and scheduling interviews.

5. Be Nimble: While much can be said for efficiency and automation in the selection process, be sure to keep your creativity cap on as you read resumes. If you are hiring for multiple positions, be aware of their job requirements and evaluate all resumes for multiple assignments. Also think proactively – be mindful of your potential talent needs as well as hard to find skills – and be willing to call people in for these opportunities. You don’t want to lose exceptional potential employees just because they don’t match one particular job.

Screening and processing resumes is one of those tasks that you just can’t get around – you need to find the right candidates for your positions. With a little attention to the process, however, you should be able to improve your efficiency and make it a little less unpleasant and maybe even a bit fun.

Miles Jennings is Founder and CEO of offers users recruiting and career advice, job search connection, and tools to help people in their careers. Started in 2010, is now one of the most popular career resources on the web.

Miles Jennings
Miles Jennings
Miles Jennings is CEO and Co-Founder of offers the easiest way for job seekers, recruiters, and employers to reach each other. Started in 2010, is now one of the most popular career resources on the web.

See all posts by Miles Jennings

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