Resume screening is often a painful task for small businesses or start-ups without dedicated recruiters. One might also miss the right candidate under a huge stack of resumes.
Here are insights from 15 industry leaders and experts who have faced and overcome resume screening challenges. The following list offers practical advice for beginners, small and medium businesses, and entrepreneurs looking for resume screening clues:
1. Sara Sutton Fall, CEO, Flexjobs
Max Resumes received per opening: Over 750 for an Online Job Researcher Position
My Clue: I specify that applicants need to provide ALL information requested in my job posting, and any of those that don’t follow instructions will not be considered. It’s amazing how many people weed themselves out.
2. Jeremy Redleaf, Founder, Odd Job Nation
Max Resumes received per opening: Over 500 for an Executive Assistant Position
My Clue: Asked them to wax poetic about their favorite snack thus showcasing their attention to detail, passion and willingness to dive into anything.
3. Rachel Dotson, Communications Manager, Zip Recruiter
Max Resumes received per opening: 107
My Clue: We quickly and effectively narrowed down the applicant pool, not by scanning each resume, but by asking a single question within the application: "Tell us about something you love and make us love it too”. The top candidates were obvious.
4. Scott Alvord, Founder, Advanced Development Concepts
Max Resumes received per opening: Many
My Clue: Require an application to be filled out and included with the resume. Knowing this will probably be the very best effort/quality you'll see from the applicant, check their spelling, sentence structure, and ability to follow directions and answer questions as requested.
5. Carolyn Betts, CEO, Betts Recruiting
Max Resumes received per opening: 100+
My Clue: Look at a resume like a baseball card. Look for quantifiable tests such as percent of quota, number of promotions and number of years at each company - if you do, you will weed through resumes just like that!
6. Mark Richards, CEO, eRichards Consulting
Max Resumes received per opening: 64
My Clue: Identify the top 2 job requirements and let the search engine identify the matches.
7. Melanie Benwell, Managing Director, Pathworks
Max Resumes received per opening: Many
My Clue: The first screening tool is to look for any typos in the subject line. For example, I got 75 resumes for an Accounts Receivable position; half the candidates spelled "receivable" wrong.
8. Ellie Humphrey, Public Relations Specialist, PerBlue
Max Resumes received per opening: 40
My Clue: Did they follow all directions carefully? We asked candidates to attach a PDF version of their resume. In our largest answered opening for an Executive Assistant - 40 applicants, we were able to narrow them down to 6 on that aspect alone. For this particular role, we were looking for someone who was very detail oriented and could follow directions well, and that was what made the PDF aspect so important.
9. Scott Cowley, Head of SEO, ZAGG Inc
Max Resumes received per opening: 30
My Clue: If people can't write complete, coherent, grammatically correct sentences in their resume, I screen them out automatically.
10. Bill Humbert, Founder, Recruiter Guy
Max Resumes received per opening: 200
My Clue: I spend 2 to 12 seconds on a resume when searching a "stack". I look for accomplishments or impacts first.
11. Tom Armour, Co-Founder, High Return Selection
Max Resumes received per opening: Approximately 800+
My Clue: Divide them into two categories, those who fit educational and associated skills and those who do not, then drill down on the first group.
12. Massimo Baldini, President, Livio Radio
Max Resumes received per opening: 200+
My Clue: To cut the number of resumes to review by 50%, demand a cover letter explaining why they think they could be a good fit for the job opening. If they don't have the time to craft a cover letter tailored to the job opening, it means that they are not committed and you can immediately strike them out.
13. Brad Barrett, Owner, GrillGrate
Max Resumes received per opening: N/A
My Clue: Forget the resume completely. Just use it to sort out non-viable candidates. THEN CALL REFERENCES - start there and then interview. I will always call first, and interview 2nd after being burned by a resume that was too good to be true- it was!
14. Wade Benz, President, USimprints
Max Resumes received per opening: 150
My Clue: Provide 10-15 questionnaires for applicants and give them a deadline to turn it in. This questionnaire and deadline has helped me screen hundreds of resumes.
15. John Paul Engel, Global Executive Director, Project Be The Change
Max Resumes received per opening: 500 resumes for a job with a consulting firm
My Clue: Look for measurable accomplishments related to my clients business.