Build The Best Candidate Shortlist With This Resume Screening Checklist

By: on August 28, 2019

Picture it: You’ve re-opened a role because the last hire turned out to be a terrible fit. You need to fill the position within the month. The job posting has been up for a couple of days, and you’ve already had 100 applicants. How do you avoid hiring another unqualified candidate?

The hardest part of the recruitment process is identifying qualified candidates from a large pool of applicants—that’s according to over half of talent acquisition leaders.

Resume screening is one of the candidate screening methods that recruiters use to separate qualified candidates from the rest. However, qualified candidates can still be lost in the void, while many unqualified applicants are getting better at circumventing applicant tracking systems to get their resumes in front of the recruiter.

In order to narrow down the pool of applicants down to a list of only the best candidates, recruiters need to use a resume screening checklist to ensure that applicants truly match the job criteria.

Clear candidate criteria helps assess candidate quality

Generally speaking, job descriptions and candidate specifications should differ from one open position to the next, even if the job titles are the same or very similar.

This can make it difficult to standardize “candidate quality” criteria for every open position, but creating clear high-level checklists for must-have and nice-to-have criteria for each position is key to an effective resume screening process.

1. Must-have requirements

This is the first step in removing unqualified candidates during resume screening. Unless the applicant meets all of your minimum requirements for the position, this is the point where you can confidently eliminate them from the running.

These minimum or must-have requirements will be based on the following attributes:

  • Specific skills needed for the position
  • Level and type of job experience
  • Certifications, degrees, etc.,
  • Level of education.

 PRO TIP:  Your minimum requirements shouldn’t be so restrictive that they exclude applicants that could do the job—they should be practical requirements that relate directly to the job. For example, an applicant may not have the 5 years of experience you ask for, but they do have the skill level and certifications you’re asking for.

2. Nice-to-have attributes

Because you’ll have already narrowed down your shortlist to only applicants that meet the minimum requirements, these nice-to-have attributes can be considered “extras” that help distinguish the more well-rounded applicants.

This list of screening criteria will typically involve any additional training or certifications and hard and soft skills that enhance the applicant’s suitability for the job. For example, if your company works with global offices, a nice-to-have attribute might include foreign language skills.

 PRO TIP:  It’s easy to rank candidates during this screening step—simply add up how many nice-to-have attributes each applicant has, and compare against one another.

A recruiter’s best friend: The resume screening checklist

It can seem like what you’re looking for in candidates is glaringly obvious when you’re reviewing resumes, but that’s not always the case. It’s easy to skip over or misjudge resumes at first glance because of hiring biases and a recruiter’s lack of time.

A resume screening checklist helps guide recruiters to review resumes after the initial screening steps for minimum requirements. Our handy resume screening checklist will help you narrow down your applicant shortlist even further:

resume screening checklist

Next steps to improving your resume screening

This resume screening checklist is a good first step for making sure that qualified candidates are captured and unqualified candidates don’t get passed down the hiring process.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can also whittle down the time it takes to screen every resume. To learn more about the ATS tools suitable for your recruiting needs, reach out to our team of expert software advisors. After a short consultation, they can help you find the right solution for your business. Call our advisors at (844) 675-2849 to narrow down your options in less than 15 minutes.

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