Sorting through Resumes

The tasking of interviewing potential new employees is a daunting process all by itself, but sometimes we forget about the process that comes before it – sorting through resumes.

Now let me clarify one point first. The online world is wonderful when it comes to making job postings public. Whereas we were once limited to word of mouth and print advertisements, online job boards give us the opportunity to extend our reach to areas we may not have been able to make contact in before.

And there’s the rub.

We’re exposing ourselves to a wider audience, giving us access to a more talented pool of applicants – but we have to deal with the flood of resumes that comes in as a result – and not all are qualified.

So how can you save yourself from hours of unnecessary sorting? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Scan the resumes right away and see if the technical skills, attributes, or education requirements you are looking for have been met. Automatically discard any resume that doesn’t have a certain percentage of the requirements you’re looking for upfront.
  • Stick to your guns. If you tell your applicants that the only resumes you will accept are the ones emailed to a certain email address, then don’t accept those that come in via other sources. Throw them away. Your applicant obviously can’t follow directions.
  • Will you accept resumes without cover letters? Make this point clear in your job posting. If not, immediately discard all resumes that do not include one. Quickly review the letters you do receive and discard the ones that have no content.
  • Include the starting salary for the position in your job listing. Some companies want to see what the salary requirements of their applicants are, but this is a waste of time. Truth be told, if you include a salary in your job posting you won’t get resumes from people who don’t qualify from a financial standpoint.
  • Delegate your authority. Is there a trusted team member you can use to help with some of the sorting? If so, get the help you need so you can focus on filling the position without letting your other work suffer.

Remember, you don’t have to bring every person you hear from in for an interview. If you end up with a short-list of applicants you are interested in you can start with a very short phone interview – asking a few qualifying questions. If you like the answers, bring them in for a formal interview. If you don’t, decline the application.

It’s really that simple.

Don’t let the resume collection process become overwhelming. You may receive 200 resumes, but in the end you only have one position to offer. Don’t feel bad about searching for the most qualified applicant!

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 21 April, 2010

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