Resume screening: a checklist to get it right

Josefine Mattsson
13 October, 2021

One way of relieving yourself from unnecessary stress during the hiring process is by making sure you get it right from the start. A neat way of doing so is by creating a reliable foundation in terms of structure and checklists that you can lean on in times of tight deadlines and short time-to-hire. This is especially important for one of the most time-consuming steps of the hiring process; resume screening, a step during which many things potentially could go south. We’ll now lend you a checklist that makes sure you’ll stay right on track without missing a beat.

1. Understand the job and what to look for in a candidate

If you don’t know much about the profession you’re hiring for, read up! Talk to people in the same position, ask them what their challenges are and which traits and skills help them overcome them. Take the chance also to ask them if there were any experiences in their lives that unexpectedly helped them to succeed in the role. The better you understand everything regarding the job, the greater you’ll be at finding the ultimate candidate.

A helpful tool is to ask the same set of questions for each job and answer them as thoroughly as you can. By doing so you’ll get a good grip of what your minimum, preferred, and optimal requirements are. Define the minimum requirements and weed out from there.

What are the minimum requirements of a person in this job?

  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Education

What are the preferred traits for this job?

  • Personality type
  • Social skills
  • Cultural fit

What are some extracurricular activities that could benefit a candidate for this job?

Examples:

  • An active member of school boards, political party, or organisation
  • Sports on an elite level
  • Sales background
  • Volunteering

2. Grade and rank the requirements

Once you’ve jotted down your various requirements, rank them to see which ones are invaluable, great-to-have, and good-to-have. Choose a ranking system that works for you. As you sort and decide, you might find that you have too high demands of one single person e.g. it would be near impossible for one person to fill all those requirements. That’s when it’s time to kill your darlings and find a combination of requirements that are closer to reality.

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3. Create score-cards


Once you’ve got a good understanding of particular merits, type them out neatly and apply a number to them with the most preferred requirement ranking as 5 and the least valuable requirement ranked as 1. Create a scorecard for each candidate and start applying a number to each fulfilled requirement. As you count the numbers, you’ll quickly be able to scan who has ranked the highest based on your criteria.

This is, after all, and if we dare say so, the less modern way of screening resumes. How could you amplify this process and at the same time be more efficient? We’ll get to that in a bit.

4. Get to work!


Time to start reading and look for the competencies that you’ve identified. Keep your notes close so you can continuously fill out the scorecards for each candidate that you think matches most of the criteria. Those with an obvious lack of skills can be removed from the list.

5. Digital tools

Yes, you guessed it, have a digital tool do the screening for you! Screening conducted by a resume screening software works in similar ways as a manual scorecard. You type in the requirements you’re looking for into the tool and the tool will begin screening the resumes. When the screening is finished you’ll be handed a shortlist of the most viable candidates, ranked from 1-20 or whatever amount of candidates you’ve asked for to see.

The benefits are many, you save both time and money and you can brag about, and feel proud of, that you’re conducting a less biased hiring process than your peers. How? Well, another neat function of these tools is that you can conduct an anonymous hiring process, e.g. you can remove all attributes that are typically discriminated against such as age, sex, nationality, name, and so forth.

6. Optimize the resume screening process with A/B testing

Consider that you implement an online skill-test and resume screening software into the screening process. How do you know if these actions actually give better results? The answer to that is that you compare two processes to each other and define what “better results” are to you, for example;

  1. You saved time and were able to focus on other more important tasks such as interviews
  2. You actually saved money because your whole team could work on other business-related tasks such as marketing and the implementation of a new ATS

When it comes to comparing, if you’re about to hire for two customer service jobs, use this chance to compare two processes, one without using digital tools and one during which you use them. What was the outcome?

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Best practices

Consider you only have time to interview three candidates but you’ve now ended up in a situation where five candidates are seemingly equally great. There are a few other criteria to look for that can help you push the screening a bit further and help you make a more well-rounded decision.

Identify meritorious skills

Does any one of them speak more than one language and could that be useful for the position at hand? Does any one of them have a broad network within the sector in question?

Unusual employment patterns

There could be numerous reasons for why there are long gaps in between employments and you’re not the one to be quick to judge. If you find unusual patterns, ask them what they did during this time and base your decision on the response.

Seek accomplishments, not tasks

Check to see if the applicant provides examples of accomplishments rather than a list of responsibilities. Is the applicant clear with how they reached their KPI’s? Example: “Increased sales by 6% in Q1 2020 by…”

Get a better workflow

Using digital tools enables you to be more swift in processes. Take a good look at your hiring process as it is today and seek to understand where you falter contra where you excel. From that, you can decide in which steps tools could be beneficial.

The screening process is complicated considering the multitude of parameters that you need to keep in mind. With that said, there’s no pride in making things more complicated than they need be so use digital tools and whatnot that can support you! If you’d like to erase the CV-screening step altogether, check out Hubert.

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Josefine Mattsson
13 October, 2021

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