How to create a resume screening checklist

Sudhanshu Ahuja

February 26, 2020

It is safe to say that talent is the most valuable resource of any organization. It is what helps them to realize their goals of innovation and leading the markets. Due to this reason, the quality of hire is as crucial as the time of hire. Recruiters work round the clock to meet the talent requirements and attract the best candidates. The hardest part of a recruiter’s job is to screen hundreds of resumes and identify the most qualified candidates. Having a resume screening checklist is the best solution that can help them in saving time and effort.

As per a survey by SHRM, 68% of recruiters said they were facing difficulty in filling the open positions. The main reason they cited was the lack of relevant work experience and skills. Although an open position can attract close to 250 applications, most of them are not relevant. Moreover, a recruiter regularly receives resumes for unadvertised jobs which further makes screening difficult. For recruiters, it is not just about finding qualified candidates at the right time from those heaps of applications. They also have to ensure the organizational fit of the candidates. Assessing the skills, competencies, behaviors, and beliefs adds to the complexity of hiring.

Furthermore, the number of applications with a recruiter can reach exorbitant levels when the organization is hiring aggressively. It can also stress the resources of the recruitment function as sifting through the high volume of resumes is no mean task.

In this scenario, having a pre-screening process and a resume screening checklist can help the recruiters in enhancing their efficiency. Apart from reducing the turnaround time, it can also help in being consistent in their responses and advancing only the best resumes to the next stage. By eliminating unsuitable applicants at an early stage of recruitment, recruiters can streamline the recruitment process and garner more support from the line managers.

The right resume screening checklist also allows the recruiters to understand the employment ethics of the candidates. Hiring a star candidate who is a job-hopper will only reduce the quality of hire, which is a crucial metric for recruitment. Here is a simple resume screening checklist that can help in identifying the best candidates in the least amount of time.

  • Start with clear job descriptions and specifications

    In an ideal scenario, all jobs must have separate and sharp JDs and candidate specifications. They should be distinct even when the job titles are similar. Firstly, it helps the candidates in assessing whether the job is right for them and vice-versa. Secondly, recruiters can use it as a reference document to match candidate skills and competencies as mentioned in the resume.

    As part of the next step, the recruiter can create a list of must-have and nice-to-have skills, competencies, and behaviors. An easier way to prepare this list is by studying the traits and behaviors of successful employees. It is a one-time activity that will come in handy in future sourcing and screening processes.

    The must-have list will help you in eliminating the ineligible candidates. It can contain all the minimum criteria that you think are required for performing well at the job. It can consist of educational qualifications, certifications, skills, and the type of experience. While creating this list, it will help to keep it open. For instance, instead of being too particular about the number of years of experience, it may help to understand the type of experience the person carries.

    The nice-to-have list is what will help in differentiating the candidates once you have narrowed down your choices. It can include certifications and skills that will enable the candidate to perform better in the job. You can rank the resumes on the number of such attributes.

    Once you have made these lists, it will become easier to scan through the resume and look for these keywords. Apart from making your task quicker, this list will also help in shortlisting only the qualified candidates.

  • Look for accomplishments

    To make their resumes wordy, a lot of candidates tend to include unnecessary information. They may also include buzzwords or important terms to attract attention. While there is nothing wrong with that, you can look for achievements to shortlist only the best candidates.

    Most individuals tend to write their daily tasks and activities in their resumes. While there is nothing wrong with that, you should try to look for successes. The star candidates will mention their achievements, and this is where you can make a difference in the shortlisting. For instance, a marketing professional may write that the job includes networking with channel partners. The star performers will mention how many channel partners were successfully onboarded by their efforts.

    A deeper understanding of the roles will come in handy here. It will help to study the duties of the current employees in these roles. You can make a note of them to ask pointed questions during the interview.

    Remember the best resumes are the ones that speak with lots of data and figures. It shows the candidate is confident to talk about past experiences. These figures can also become conversation starters during the interview process.

  • Study the gaps

    It is advisable to look at the employment timeline as the first thing while scanning a resume. It will help you in understanding the employment history and the overall work ethic of the candidate. While breaks are not always negative, too many gaps have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    An organization spends a lot of time and resources on training an employee. It also takes time for a new employee to settle comfortably in the new culture and become productive. As a matter of fact, it takes between 1 to 2 years to become fully productive at a job. Losing an employee around this time means a loss of resources for your organization. Moreover, it will also impact the quality of hire metrics and the overall productivity of the recruitment function.

  • Understand the resume

    It is suggested to take a good look at the resume to understand the consistency of the writing. Try to look at the overall presentation and any grammatical or spelling mistakes. As a rule of thumb, the candidates should avoid writing in a direct first-person voice. An implied language sounds much more professional.

    Read the personal statement to know if it is passionate and relevant to the job. If there is a cover letter, read it in detail to understand what the candidate is trying to say. If it is general and could hold true for any job, it is not well-written. The cover letter should be specific to the position, and the candidate should be able to articulate the expertise in the role.

    It may also help to find evidence of a career that has plateaued or any indications of responsibilities being reduced or career changes. While such signs are not always red flags, you may want to probe these during the interview.

  • Use technology

    Manual screening is useful only when the recruitment numbers are reasonable. During volume hiring, recruiters may have hundreds of openings and receive thousands of applications. Using technology is the best way to screen qualified candidates at such times.

    AI in recruitment can simplify this task and also automate the resume screening checklist. Impress offers chatbots that can effectively resolve this situation. The best feature is that Impress chatbots are customizable. The team has worked in the past to offer custom solutions to target organization-specific problems.

    impress.ai chatbots can perform the first-level assessment of the candidates. You can customize it to ask specific questions and evaluate the candidates based on the responses. The platform can also be linked to video assessment tools and give an overall score to the candidate.

    This technology is reliable and can offer accurate results. It can drastically reduce the screening time of candidates and fasten the hiring process. That too, without compromising the quality of hire.

  • Note the warning signs

    As a recruiter, you will be adding more value to the process by identifying the reg flags. Make a note of these warnings when you assess a resume. There are good chances that you may forget them when you are working on several resumes at once. The hiring manager will also appreciate your efforts as it will help them in finding an eligible candidate.

  • In conclusion

    In today’s time, the job of a recruiter is much more than scheduling interviews and negotiating offers. Organizations expect recruiters to contribute more strategically and assist the line managers in hiring qualified candidates. With a resume screening checklist, recruiters can enhance the quality of hire. It will particularly come in handy when an organization has to hire for mission-critical roles. Technology can simplify this task and also enhance the efficiency of the recruitment department.

Join our mailing list and stay updated on recruitment automation news & trends.

Transform your recruitment process, focus on what matters.

A unified AI platform constructed for recruiters, employers, businesses and people