Follow this straightforward four-step structure to create your own
process for reviewing resumes.
1. Minimum qualifications
Every role has
minimum qualifications: “basic, certifiable,
typically nonnegotiable qualifications that a candidate must have to
be considered for the role.” These are the core requirements that
enable employees to perform the role successfully. Depending on the
job posting, these minimum requirements can come in different shapes
and sizes. They might be:
Academic - such as requiring a computer science degree for
some programming roles
Professional - such as accreditation for an accountant
Legal - such as requiring the ability to work in a given country
Practical - such as years of experience managing a large team
To progress to the next stage of the hiring process, candidates need
to meet these minimum criteria—if they don't, they can be safely
ruled out from consideration.
2. Preferred qualifications
While minimum qualifications help flag unsuitable candidates, a
great resume screening process will dig deeper and differentiate
good candidates from great ones.
Preferred qualifications are key to
achieving that goal, referring to the “nonmandatory skills and
experience of an ideal candidate.”
Preferred qualifications are often less black and white than minimum
qualifications and may require a judgment call to determine whether
a candidate's resume exhibits the skills you're after. These could
include qualifications like:
Experience in video production
Proficiency in SQL and database design
Collaboration across product, marketing, and sales teams
These are the skills and experiences that will give your new hire
the greatest chance of success in the role. While their absence
isn't necessarily a deal breaker, they provide a fast and effective
way to identify top candidates to interview.
Both minimum and preferred qualifications should be set out as part
job description writing process. They provide the framework
for attracting the right applicants and building the interview
process, which allows you to dig in and verify whether a candidate
has the skills and experience required for the open job.
3. General impressions
While reviewing for minimum and preferred qualifications should make
up the bulk of the resume screening process, additional qualitative
review can add useful context. If you're unsure whether you want to
move a given candidate on to a phone screen, your general
impressions of their resume can help swing the decision in the right
Try to gauge the following:
The candidate's attention to detail. Try to determine how much
effort the candidate put into their resume. Is it carefully
constructed, or was it thrown together in a hurry? What is their
spelling and grammar like? Is the resume missing any key
Quantifiable impact. Look for instances where a candidate has made
a demonstrable difference through their work, as measured by
previous job performance data, awards, or certifications.
A clear employment timeline. A job seeker's employment history can
provide much-needed context for their skills and work experience. In
today's world, gaps in a candidate's employment history shouldn't
necessarily be a deal breaker. But make sure to evaluate the resume,
cover letter, or application for any insights that could help you
understand any employment gaps.
In isolation, these factors should have a minor impact on your
hiring decisions. But when you're struggling to determine a
candidate's suitability, they can be enough to help make an informed
decision whether to move a candidate forward.
Finally, shortlist good-fit candidates and reach out to arrange the
next part of the hiring process—typically either a
or an interview.
The “right” number of candidates to shortlist will be influenced by
several factors: the number of applications received, the quality of
the applicants, the “typical” conversion rates from applicant to
employee, and your own recruitment ethos—whether you prefer to cast
a wide net and interview many people, or be more selective and
interview a handful.
Let unsuccessful applicants know that they didn't make it to the
interview stage, showing them that you're grateful for the time they
invested in their application and freeing them to pursue other
positions. Keep these candidates in mind for alternative open
roles—if you think they're better suited to a different role, reach
out to encourage them to apply.