6 Ways to Review Resumes More Efficiently

Discover 6 efficient ways to review resumes quickly and effectively. Improve your hiring process, avoid red flags, and find the perfect candidate for your team.

Dara Dolinsky
May 17, 2021

Reviewing a big stack of resumes can be the most important thing you do all day, but it certainly isn't the most exciting. But you know the perfect hire is hiding somewhere in that stack, and it's up to you to find them. Maybe if reviewing resumes all day was your only responsibility, this would be a snap. But as most HR professionals of small businesses know full-well, you are the brains of the operation and responsible for keeping a thousand moving parts and priorities in line.

So how do you give every job applicant the attention they deserve and do it quickly (i.e., before your competitors do) while staying on top of everything else you have to do every day? We have 6 simple ways to review resumes more efficiently (and effectively!) so you can spend more time being the HR superhero you are.

6 Ways to Review Resumes More Efficiently

Without wasting any time, let’s talk about the 6 things you can do to review resumes more efficiently. When implemented, your resume review process should go by much quicker and you’ll be interviewing the perfect candidate before you know it.

1. Get an Overall Impression of Before Jumping into Details

To make the most of your time, reduce the total amount of resume review you need to do. Start by simply skimming each resume and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do they live in the area? Or will they have a long commute?
  • Are they a committed employee or a job hopper?
  • Are their pay expectations in line with what you're offering?
  • Do I they have any relevant experience?

Give each resume a few-second once-over, and put the ones that are clearly bad fits in one pile and the rest in another pile that will merit a deeper look.

At the same time you are trying to get a quick impression, avoid jumping to harsh conclusions. A gap in a resume doesn’t always mean the person was fired from their last job and couldn't find another job. Often, and particularly during Covid, many people were unemployed for long periods of time to take care of family members.

If there are any pieces that give you pause but overall the applicant seems to be a good fit, you can always clear up any questions you have during the phone interview.

2. Check for Red Flags

Red flags can be a little tricky to pick up on, and it can be easy to jump to conclusions, but it’s important to give each applicant the benefit of the doubt. Some potential red flags are:

Very short employment periods in each role listed. Regardless of the reason the person moves from job to job, bringing a new employee onto your team is a big decision. Unless you are hiring for a temporary position, you want to look for people that want to be with a job for a significant amount of time.

A decreasing level of responsibility. Again, if you are looking for someone to join your team for the long haul, you should be planning on giving them opportunities for growth. If someone can't show they are capable of taking on new challenges, your job might not be the best fit.

Multiple shifts in career path. A little indecision is fine, but multiple career shifts can be troublesome. Who’s to say they won’t change their career again while working for you?

Large, unexplained gaps between jobs. If the applicant can’t explain frequent and long gaps between jobs, they might not be a strong candidate. Either they aren’t looking for work or they’re constantly getting turned down by other employers.

Over-qualified. An applicant with more experience than you are looking for may seem like a bonus rather than a red flag, but often these applicants may have pay expectations to match their experience. And in today's market, it's not uncommon to use an easy job offer as leverage for a better job.

3. Look for Transferable Skills

What is a transferable skill? An HVAC technician’s understanding of how AC lines work and their experience with tools might make them a good candidate for a machine service technician in a plant that uses refrigerated technology. A teacher with a lot of experience communicating with students, parents, and other teachers could make a great candidate for a marketing or customer service post.

Simply, a transferrable skill is something a person does that can be used across a variety of jobs. Rather than "hard skills" like a particular license, look for the actions your job will require such as strong communication skills, experience around heavy machinery, or project planning experience.

One of the easiest traps to fall into is starting having requirements that are too strict. That means that you’re looking for a very specific candidate and generally toss out applicants who don’t meet the exact requirements immediately. If you’re only accepting candidates that have a certain number of years of particular work experience, you're missing out on a lot of potential.

While this seems to conflict with the first tip we wrote about, don't worry.

A quick way to ensure you’re hiring the best people is to look at their qualities, not necessarily their job experience. If the applicant is driven, responsive, has shown responsibility, and looking for a challenge, you can always train them to your specific process once you hire them.

4. Appoint a Resume Review Buddy

If you are like a lot of HR professionals, you are an "HR Army of One" and are responsible for hiring for every position across the company (as well as managing benefits, pay, uniforms, time-off requests, the list goes on and on!).

You may know the business inside and out, but nothing compares to the experience of doing the job on the ground. Once you have trimmed down your list of resumes, consider asking a team lead or supervisor to take a look and point out some of the best (and worst) candidates for the job. They will know better than anyone the true day-to-day requirements of the job and will be able to pick out a good fit quickly.

It isn’t always possible to haul a supervisor into the HR office to review every resume you think might be a good fit, but you should at least set up monthly or quarterly job requirement syncs to ensure you are delivering the kind of candidates they really need, whether the particular experience or skills were listed in the job description or not.

It’s also worth mentioning that you want a reviewer with a good attitude. Finding a great hiring manager buddy who can quickly identify top-quality candidates won’t just ensure you hire great people, but you'll likely have to do it less often.

5. Build it Into a Daily or Weekly Routine

As you get into a habit of reviewing resumes, the process will be more efficient. Depending on the size of your business and how many open jobs you have at a time, try to set aside regular time to review the incoming resumes rather than reviewing them as they come in.

But don't wait too long in between review sessions! Reviewing 10 resumes each morning is a lot easier—and more efficient— to swallow than having a stack of 100 to review every two weeks. You'll also find you give each resume a fairer review when you aren't faced with a massive stack on your desk.

6. Remember Resumes are Just One Part of the Process

A resume is a single page. It can't possibly cover all the details and experiences that are relevant to your job opening. As you probably know by now, the strongest candidate might not always have the strongest resume.

It’s up to you to see past the letters on the page and dig into the overall picture of the candidate. Write down your questions and follow up with the candidate through a telephone interview if you are on the fence. In the world of the blue-collar workforce, hands-on ability outweighs anything that you can read on a resume.

Utilizing our 6 tips can really help you speed up the resume review process. More importantly, it can make sure you don’t miss out on the perfect candidate and you staff your team with the best talent.

If manual resume review is keeping you from spending time on more strategic projects, try Team Engine risk-free to see how automated resume screening software can streamline your recruiting and hiring process.

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