According to Career Builder, job postings will attract 250 resumes on average. If it’s your task to sort through these resumes to find the perfect candidate, you may find yourself feeling a little daunted and your “flight” reflex may be kicking in. Fortunately, there are ways to quickly evaluate a stack of resumes. Faced with similar issues, HR professionals have perfected methods to quickly scan resumes and identify the candidates with the highest likelihood of being a good fit. Some have become so efficient that they spend approximately 6 seconds per resume on average.
It’s important to expedite the process of analyzing hundreds of resumes in order to save yourself time, pain, and money. Here are some tips and methods that will make the process much easier and will reduce that pile to only the best applicants.
The first tip comes from David Finkel, who suggests starting by filtering out candidates who are an obvious poor fit rather than searching for the candidates who are a good fit. With 250 candidates, there are bound to be a plethora of applicants who are poor candidates for your opening. Whether it’s because they didn’t read the full job description, are applying to everything, or even applying in order to maintain their unemployment benefits, there are bound to be some applicants that clearly aren’t good. Begin by removing these candidates from your pile first so that you can focus on the right applicants.
This tip alone will likely save you the majority of your time. By looking for the key indicators that may make a candidate a poor fit, you can reduce the pile of resumes that you actually need to read down to just a dozen or even fewer. There are some quick ways to disqualify candidates as well. Look for the obvious signs such as location, job titles, dates, or even an abundance of grammatical errors. All of these are legitimate reasons to disqualify a candidate.
Know what your “must haves” are for the role. Rather than reading an entire resume from top to bottom, separate the qualities you are looking for in an applicant into “must have” and “nice to have”. By focusing on what’s really important for you and the role you are trying to fill, you are actually doing two things. First, you are identifying what the most important qualities are for the role you are trying to fill and therefore, increasing the likelihood that you choose a great candidate. Second, you are reducing the number of things you need to look at when scanning resumes from everything to just a few key qualities you know you need to have.
This will require you to think about what your must have qualities are though, before you begin analyzing resumes. But by having these “must have” qualities, you can scan the remaining resumes to find the candidates that you know without a doubt have exactly what you’re looking for. You should be left with far fewer candidates than you had at the beginning and ones that you know will be a good fit.
Another technique that can help you screen poor fits is to “bury” instructions in the middle of, or at the end of, the job description. By asking a specific question that requires a direct answer, or requesting specific instructions you can quickly filter out the applicants who are not detail oriented or thorough. This can be something as simple as what to name the resume file, what subject line to use in their email, or answering a simple question about themselves in their email. By doing this, you can filter out a surprising number of applicants and you will be able to filter them out quickly.
Of course, some professionals have had years to develop techniques to expedite and perfect their resume screening process and they will have other techniques. You may even create some techniques that work for you as you begin the process. But to start, you can save yourself a significant amount of time by filtering out the obvious poor fits first, defining your “must” have characteristics before evaluating resumes, and burying instructions in the job description.