How to Review Resumes
How to Review Resumes

How to Review Resumes

Reviewing Resumes the Modern Way

For recruiting professionals and human resources teams today, reviewing resumes is an overwhelming project. The job market is particularly hot and the digital revolution means that more resumes flood in every day.

When a job is posted and recruiters receive hundreds of resumes after posting just one job - the task of thoughtfully reviewing each applicant seems impossible. Where do you start? How do you narrow it down? For overworked recruiters and talent pros, resumes begin to look and read the same as decision fatigue sets in.

Luckily, with the help of today’s technology and strategic advancements, there are solutions to managing a mountain of resumes.

There are several quick and simple ways to weed out candidates that don’t fit a role’s criteria which saves hours of time sorting through resumes. This article explores the absolute best techniques for reviewing resumes for recruiting professionals.

Spend Quality Time Upfront Identifying the Requirements for a Role

To find the best candidate for an open role, knowing exactly who and what you need is the key to success here. The trick to fast-tracking your candidate selection is to be crystal clear on the exact skills and attributed needed in the ideal hire. While it may seem time-consuming upfront, create a list of the education needed, skills, and past job experience.

Job descriptions are a critical step in the hiring process for both an enterprise and potential candidates. A poorly written description will deter the right candidates and encourage the wrong ones to apply. An ineffective job description could cause the wrong candidate to be hired, which could lead to a poor experience for that employee. The cost of an incompatible hire is extremely expensive for an organization.

This is the time to get incredibly honest with yourself and your company culture. The culture description is just as important as the actual details of the job will be. Your company culture will turn off the wrong person and make the right person eager to apply.

How to Review Resumes | Pro Tip 1

Use a Resume Scorecard

Using a resume scorecard is a common technique used by recruiters today. A scorecard is a tool that helps HR professionals review resumes using a set of consistent criteria. A scorecard helps speed up the resume review process and also adds valuable structure to resume review. When resumes are sorted and analyzed with structure, it enables unbiased decisions about which candidates are worthy of a phone screen and interview. Another benefit of adding a scorecard component to the resume review process is that new recruiters and hiring managers that join the team can learn the process quickly which helps HR departments scale as they grow.

Weed Out Incompatible Resumes Quickly

With the help of a resume scorecard, the review process can move rapidly through the weed-out phase. In this phase, reviewers will remove a large majority of resumes based on specific criteria. For example, did the applicant follow the appropriate steps? Perhaps a candidate didn’t use the correct subject line that was requested in the job description. This is a common issue and can delineate the candidates with attention to detail and those who are sloppy.

If an applicant doesn’t follow the specifications to apply for a role, it’s reasonable to predict they are not the best fit. This is especially true if the role is heavily detail-dependent like a job in accounting, finance, or quality assurance. It’s up to your organization to determine the “weed-out” criteria, so be sure it is established ahead of time.

A Creative and Compelling Cover Letter

If the job application called for a cover letter, this is another area where hiring professionals can find candidates with potential. A cover letter should be clear and compelling. Recruiters read cover letters all day, so if a cover letter reads like a template, it won’t impress. Generic cover letters should be deprioritized over the cover letters. If the role is in a creative department like marketing or communications, the cover letter is a particularly important element as it can showcase a candidate’s creative instincts and skills.

Salary Range

Even if a candidate is absolutely perfect for a role, if their required salary range is out of scope, they must be removed from consideration. Hiring professionals will use their best judgment in this area as some candidates in the high end of the salary range might be worth a salary shift. However, if the applicant’s required salary is too far above what an organization can offer, it’s another “weed out” situation, which helps to keep the process moving.

How to Review Resumes | Pro Tip 2

Carefully Review the Small Stack of Resumes

By the time you’ve covered the steps above you will have a small stack of resumes. These candidates have potential and should be considered for the next phase of hiring. This smaller stack is where you comb for meaningful content.

While in the previous steps you will move relatively quickly, in this phase of the process, you will move more methodically. In the role descriptions, the summary of education, software knowledge, accolades, and overall resume content you will gain insight into the candidate that is right for your organization. At this level, even fine details matter like word choice, resume design, and software experience. Find the best group out of that smaller stack and schedule phone screens and interviews.

How to Review Resumes | Pro Tip 3

Reviewing Resumes with an ATS

If you follow the process above, your resume review process will transform from cumbersome to efficient. However, as today’s job market is fast-paced and competitive, it’s also important to leverage advanced tools to manage today’s modern HR demands. An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a tool that can make the resume review process lightning fast.

With features like resume parsing, most of the manual steps of resume review can now be automated with an ATS. With an ATS, hiring teams can enjoy automatic candidate and resume rankings and resume keyword-search ability. If you know your organization is busting at the seam with the demands of reviewing countless resumes, consider an ATS.


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