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Screening job applications, resumes and cover letters.

Screening Job Applications, Resumes and Cover Letters

You’ve posted a position and find that you receive 25, 50, even 100 applications. How will you narrow the pool down to the most qualified candidates, those who warrant an interview? It can feel overwhelming, but with some focus and set criteria, it can be manageable. Here are some tips and suggestions to assist in navigating the application review and selection process:

  • Have notes about the minimum qualifications, preferences and other search criteria on hand to reference as you review the applications/resumes.
  • Don’t consider the applicant’s name, address or any other personal information listed. This helps limit unconscious bias.
  • Sort applications/resumes into three groups, or tiers: those who closely meet your needs and you will interview, those who partially meet your needs and you might interview and those who do not meet your needs and you will not likely interview.
  • How well does the applicant link their qualifications and skills to your business needs? Did they customize their resume or cover letter to your job opening?
  • Is the applicant’s focus more on what they hope to obtain from the organization (e.g., “My objectives are to get better pay and benefits and move into a supervisory position within six months”) or more on what they can contribute to the organization (e.g., “At my last job I updated the filing process, which resulted in better efficiency and freed up time for the staff to work on projects”).
  • Note any special skills that are relevant to your job opening (e.g., particular software, expertise with particular equipment, etc.).
  • Have one or two other people assist you in reviewing the applications/resumes. They may catch something you didn’t notice.
  • Write down questions you have about the resume of applicants in your first and second tiers so you can ask those during the telephone or in-person interview.
  • Contact your HR team for information about applicants on the “special handling” list.

Feel free to contact your HR team for other tips and suggestions.