Resume Screening

Use a Skills Profile to Screen Resumes

Ask The Expert

Q: What tips do you have for how I can review resumes efficiently—but not so fast that I miss a good candidate?

A:  It’s daunting to have a flood of resumes delivered to you either electronically or on paper. You’re faced with the important task of finding your next star employee, but it can be tough to know where to begin.   

There are steps you can take before you even post the job opening to make the screening process easier. It’s critical to think carefully about what skills, knowledge, and abilities are needed to be successful in the position. Use these qualities to create a skills profile for the job.

The skills profile should outline the “must haves” for the role, including years of relevant experience, educational requirements, technical proficiency, and anything else you have determined that a new hire would need to succeed. If you do a good job of putting together this profile, you’ll have a reliable blueprint you can follow when reviewing resumes.

It’s critical to think carefully about what skills, knowledge, and abilities are needed to be successful in the position. Use these qualities to create a skills profile for the job.

In your first pass at a resume, look for what you’ve outlined as the must-have job requirements. If the candidate doesn’t meet them, you can quickly put the resume in the “no” pile. If the candidate meets those requirements, put the resume in the “to be considered” pile.

After you’ve reviewed all resumes, do a second pass at those you’re still considering. This time, pay close attention to candidates’ accomplishments—not just that they say they have a skill, but how they demonstrate it. Candidates who can show their accomplishments on paper are most likely the ones you want to consider first. Of course, also look for resumes that are well written and error free—that’s a clue to how detail-oriented the person is and how much pride they take in their work.

You’ve probably heard that the average time a recruiter or hiring manager looks at a resume is seven seconds. This is concerning—how can you make a good decision that quickly? The truth is that you probably can if you thoughtfully create a skills profile and then use it to screen each resume.

A final note: Although you want to be efficient, saving time shouldn’t be your only priority. Remember that there is nothing more important than having the right people on your team, so take the time you need to consider your candidates.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR,The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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