Chris Russell

3 min read

Recruiting Tactics

Resume Screening Checklist

Screening resumes, especially during a time of higher unemployment and an overabundance of candidates, is a challenging part of the talent acquisition process.  Not only is resume screening time-consuming, but most talent acquisition leaders are also concerned about the time spent reviewing resumes of unqualified candidates and missing out on potential superstars. 

Utilizing an effective resume screening checklist can substantially increase your likelihood of success. To help you identify the best candidates more easily and in less time, here’s a 4-step resume screening checklist that can help you.

Step 1: Compile a List of the Job Qualifications

The first step in your resume screening checklist is understanding the required job qualifications to be able to do the job, as well as the preferred job qualifications and competencies to excel in the job.

The required job qualifications are often a simple listing of the basic work experience, skills and education required to adequately perform the responsibilities listed on the job posting. Preferred qualifications and competencies are the additional work experiences, skills, education, abilities, and behaviors that often lead to someone being a stronger performer.  

One way to determine preferred qualification is to assess the profiles of your successful employees.  Make sure you have a diverse pool of successful employees to ensure there is not any unconscious bias in your determination of what it takes to be a superstar.  Thereby compiling an unbiased checklist. Talk to your current employees and their supervisors as well as examine their resumes to find common patterns in:

  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities
  • Behaviors

The resume screening checklist also ensures the applicants are compared fairly against the same selection criteria!

Step 2: Categorize Each Job Qualification as Minimum or Preferred

The second step in your resume screening checklist is deciding if each job qualification is a minimum or preferred one.

Minimum qualifications are ones that a candidate must have to do the job. An example of a minimum qualification for a remote customer service associate is being proficient with desktop computer system and have good written and oral communication skills.

Preferred qualifications are ones that would make someone a stronger candidate. An example of a preferred qualification is whether the candidate has prior industry related work experience.

A good rule of thumb is that a candidate would be unable to do the job without each minimum qualification whereas he or she would be able to do the job without any of the preferred qualifications.

For example, a candidate with good communication and computer skills (minimum qualification) who lacks experience in a similar industry (preferred qualification) can be successful as a customer service associate with some on-the-job training.

Depending on a job’s workflow, candidates can be screened based on minimum qualifications, preferred qualifications, or both.

Step 3: Create a Resume Screening Scorecard for the Job Qualifications

The third step in your resume screening checklist is taking the minimum and preferred qualifications and creating a resume screening scorecard.

The purpose of this scorecard is to be able to easily rank each candidate based on the job qualifications and shortlisting the strongest candidates.

For an Online Customer Service role, your scorecard might look like this:

Shortlisting Scorecard: Customer Service Associate

Candidate ID Education Industry Experience Online Customer Svc. Experience Communication Skills Total
(1=min; 2= desired) (1=< year; 2= a year; 3 = > year) (1=poor; 2= average; 3 = strong) (4-11)
Candidate 1
Candidate 2
Candidate 3

Step 4: Evaluate Resume Screening Technology Tools

If you’re conducting high-volume recruitment, step four in your resume screening checklist may be the most important: finding and investing in a strong resume screening technology tool.

When you’re recruiting for roles that receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes per job opening, you don’t always have the time to manually screen every resume effectively.

Intelligent resume screening is software that integrates with your ATS automating steps 1 to 3 of your resume screening checklist.

It does this by learning the job qualifications based on the resumes of existing successful employees to automatically screen, shortlist, and grade new candidates (e.g., A to C or Green, Yellow, and Red).

For high-volume recruitment, intelligent resume screening is a huge technological step forward. Not only does it save you the time it takes to manually screen resumes, but it also helps you to better predict quality of hires by learning which candidates moved on to become successful employees.

Final Takeaways for Your Resume Screening Checklist

Many recruiters believe screening candidates is the most time-consuming and hardest part of their job. As hiring volume is predicted to increase in 2021, screening resumes will only become more of a challenge.

To help you stay on track and identify the best candidates, follow this 4-step resume screening checklist:

  • Step 1: Compile a list of the job qualifications based on job requirements and current successful employees.
  • Step 2: Categorize each job qualification as a minimum or preferred qualification.
  • Step 3: Create a resume screening scorecard for the job qualifications to shortlist candidates.
  • Step 4: Find a good resume screening technology tool, especially if you conduct high-volume recruitment.

Depending on how many people you hire each year, you may want to automate some or all your resume screening function. 

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