Reviewing Resumes: How to Select the Best Candidates

Category: Articles
Posted: 04-06-2015 08:47 PM
Views: 8034
Synopsis: A step-by-step process to organizing and selecting candidates based on the resumes they have submitted.
You’ve posted a job notice and now you have several resumes sitting on your desk. How do you determine who you will call in for an interview? Your time is valuable so you only want to interview the best prospects. To do this you’ll want to have a screening procedure. This will further ensure every candidate is treated equally thus minimizing the risk for a discrimination lawsuit in the future. You will also need to have a well written, well thought out description for the job if you haven’t already done so. This description should include a list of the core duties and responsibilities of the position. Further, it should list skillsets and education needed to be successful in the job. Also, you will want to outline how the job fits into the corporate structure. This will be crucial to not only screening resumes but also to drafting questions for the interview. 
To allow your team adequate time for screening, respond immediately to each applicant acknowledging receipt of their resume. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it also provides you with an opportunity to let the candidates know the hiring timeframe. For example, you might say the job is open until April 1, and after that time you will be contacting candidates whose qualifications meet your corporate needs.
Build an Evaluation Team
Reviewing resumes can be a tedious and time consuming task. Therefore, it is more successful if you have more than one person involved in the screening process. Multiple screeners will give you more than one eye thus ensuring objectivity. Along with a direct supervisor or manager, there should further be someone from human resources and possibly a peer on the evaluation team. If you have someone on the team from HR, they would be ideal as a team leader. The team leader should be responsible for both collecting and organizing resumes. However, if no one from HR can do it, appoint someone to this task. 
List of Basic Qualifications
Refer back to your job description to make a list of basic qualifications to look for when reviewing each resume. This should include items such as minimum education, work experience and added skillsets like computer or software knowledge. Other items such as volunteer/community experience, continuing education or professional licenses may also be considered.  Organize these qualifications into “must have” or “desired” qualifications. 
Draft Evaluation Sheet
You may even wish to create an evaluation sheet to make this process even easier. Along with listing basic qualifications, the list should allow space for feedback or comments. To simplify the process even further, consider developing a point system. With this system you would award points for qualifications as well as skillsets. This scale could be from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.  
The Chronological vs. Functional Resume
Depending upon the position, you may receive some chronological as well as functional resumes to review. Consequently it is important to educate your team concerning the differences. For starters, the chronological resume is very traditional. It includes a job objective at the top and a summary of work history and education below. This resume style is quite easy for the screener to review. The functional resume however is more complex. Because the resume focuses more on skills instead of work history, many choose this format to attempt to hide weaknesses in their employment history. Therefore, screeners will have to look harder to identify job hopping or other problems such as gaps in employment in the functional resume. 
Organize Resumes
To organize the screening process, begin by creating a packet for each resume you receive. This packet should include the cover letter and resume along with an evaluation sheet. Copy this packet for each member of the evaluation team. To save time or make the process more efficient, your team leader can even highlight the most relevant information on the resume. Then distribute the resumes and set a deadline for the evaluation to be complete for each. Next, schedule a meeting with the team to discuss the resumes in detail. 
Remember the point of the meeting is to decide who you will call in for an interview. Consequently, you may possibly want to decide how many people to interview before beginning. This is especially important if you’ve received a large number of responses. 
Finally, you’ll want to create three separate piles. This should be a “yes”, “no” and “maybe” pile. The “no” pile should include candidates who do not meet your basic criteria. And obviously, the yes pile should be candidates who meet all of your criteria without question. The maybe pile should consist of resumes that may require a few looks before deciding whether they warrant a face to face interview. If you’ve used a point system, your team leader should organize the resumes according to points. This will expedite the screening process and also give you a place to start. Additionally, if a candidate does not have one or more of your “must haves”, you’ll want to put them in your “no” pile. 
If after screening you find you have too many in the “yes” pile, reassess your basic skills or qualifications and then review the resumes again. If on the other hand you don’t have a decent number of candidates to interview, you can lower your requirements or repost your ad. Also, before ending the meeting, go back through your “maybe” pile again to take a closer look at these candidates.
Assessing Resumes
Your team needs to be fair and objective when screening candidates. Consequently it is important to have the evaluation sheet readily accessible while reviewing candidates’ resumes. Again, the evaluation sheet must include the basic job criteria. Screeners should refer to the basic qualifications often to help them conduct a fair assessment. 
The team should use the person’s work history and educational background to try and get a feel for them as an employee. They should further think whether this person’s background will complement the team or overall corporate persona. Other things to consider when assessing resumes include:
Resume neatness. Does the resume contain stains or smudges? A messy resume will likely show a lack of care.
Does the resume contain typos or misspelled words? Although you can overlook one or two typos, repeated errors are hard to excuse. 
Are there any concerns about their employment background such as their having held several jobs over the last few years? Or, does the resume show a gap in employment?
Does the candidate have a clear career path? Working in a variety of fields can make for a well-rounded person, however, it may also indicate a lack of focus and direction. Further, look for positives such as job promotions. This not only shows a clear career path, but may confirm them to be a hard worker and team player. 
In assessing the resume, look for accomplishments or achievements instead of a list of responsibilities. For example, in sales have they met or possibly exceeded their sales goals? As a manager, what improvements have they made to the company or even the bottom line? 
As your team reviews each resume, make note of any questions or concerns you might have that you could potentially address in the interview. And, keep these evaluation sheets for future reference or to help you with the interview. In lieu of a face to face interview, you may wish to conduct telephone interviews first. 

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