Optimize your shortlisting process with a resume screening checklist

Optimize your shortlisting process with a resume screening checklist

Our blog Optimize your shortlisting process with a resume screening checklist
Optimize your shortlisting process with a resume screening checklist

Recruiters are some of the busiest employees at a company. They are constantly juggling competing priorities and tending to various demands. One of the most demanding aspects of recruiting is candidate selection. You can make the process of shortlisting candidates more manageable by developing a resume screening checklist for each role (especially roles you'll hire for multiple times).

Recruiters use a range of tools and tactics during the hiring process. From posting to job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed.com, to networking, to workplace referral programs, and more, a wide range of candidates may be approached (directly or indirectly) in order to source candidates for an open role. Here enters the chaos

On average, a job posting will garner 118 applicants — and that’s just on one job site. A recruiter can quickly become overwhelmed with hundreds of resumes and the pressure to place a stand-out hire. And unfortunately, a large fraction of the applicants are going to be unqualified. 

Due to their immense workload, it’s no surprise that recruiters look for processes and software to streamline the process. This article will focus on reducing resume fatigue and ensuring unqualified candidates aren’t being put in front of the team by creating a resume screening checklist upfront.

What is a resume screening checklist? 

A resume screening checklist is a checklist with all the important elements a recruiter expects to see on the resumes of qualified candidates. That way, everyone on the hiring team is aligned on what skills and characteristics a successful hire will and won’t have. Ultimately, the checklist saves time by eliminating poor fits early in the hiring process and helping the recruiter identify the top talent in the candidate pool with greater accuracy. 

Often a company will develop its checklist well before producing a job description. Soon after a need for a new role is expressed and approved by upper management, the recruiter or hiring manager for the role will sit down with the appropriate manager to identify the correct qualifications such as higher education, years of experience, familiarity with specific systems, and exposure to specific aspects of the business. 

Though some recruiters may appreciate an alternative to a resume screening checklist, it can be most helpful for conservative companies with their resources and don’t have the flexibility or time to drag out the recruiting process or risk hiring a poor fit. 

The benefits of having a resume screening checklist 

Creating and implementing a resume screening checklist will require some work from the recruiter and team manager on the front end, but it will likely prove helpful and beneficial to everyone. 

Encourages quality over quantity

The checklist enforces quality over quantity. As tempting as it can be to send a list of candidates hoping that open requisition will be closed sooner, it’s most important to present a team with quality candidates and hire talent that will last past their first 90 days. The checklist can help anchor the vision of the “perfect hire” by having the team identify what their dream candidate looks like.

Saves time and money

In addition to being a quality control aide, a resume screening checklist can save the company money and time. A hire starts costing the company money long before the offer letter is extended. According to one study reported by Toggl Hire, “a number of companies disclosed their total spend on recruiting fees. It adds up to over $16,000 per year – and that’s per single placement.” Having a healthy checklist can reserve a company’s most valuable resources. 

Reduces frustration

Finally, a resume screening checklist can alleviate a considerable amount of frustration; something most would deem priceless. When the team sits down to connect and collectively determines what a stand-out candidate will possess, objectivity is less likely to play a role in decision-making. One of the bottlenecks to cause the most strain during the recruitment process can be leaders and managers not seeing eye-to-eye on the pool of talent. It’s much easier to identify and determine deal-breakers before you’ve begun the interview process. 

A resume screening checklist is truly a guide for the team and managers that take much of the guesswork out of the screening process.

Resume screening checklist

How to create a resume screening checklist for your open positions 

The next step is to build a thoughtful resume screening checklist for the open position. To develop the best checklist, it’s imperative to meet with the right stakeholders to get their buy-in. Some suggested categories or topics to discuss would include:

  • Work Experience. How much post-graduate experience will you require? This section is especially helpful when discerning between entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level roles.
  • Education. Are you open to interviewing a candidate without a college degree? Will this role require a master’s degree or other post-graduate education? Is there any formal training a candidate should have?
  • Soft skills. What soft skills does the role require?
  • Technical skills. What systems or software should the person in this role be familiar with?
  • Personality traits. What characteristics will best complement the existing team? How will you determine if the candidate will be a culture add?

Once you have determined the categories most important to this role, it's time to determine the minimum requirements and the preferred requirements. For example, you may prefer that a candidate have a master's degree in marketing, but a bachelor's degree in marketing is a minimum requirement. Ensure that your requirements, minimum or preferred, are explicitly listed in the job description. 

Consider having a scorecard or ballot of some kind record and track your candidates. Using the categories above, you can distribute 1 point if they have the minimum requirements, 2 points if they have the preferred, and 0 points if they do not meet the minimum requirement.

Integrate your checklist with assessment software

To streamline the process, you can use online skills assessments and questionnaires to capture information relevant to the resume screening checklist. For example, a candidate could be required to list the number of working years they have or checkbox all of the languages they speak if being multilingual is a job requirement.

Additionally, you can test them on the skills you require so that you know whether candidates are truly skilled in the areas they say they are. This will help weed out those that are not qualified fits, subsequently saving you time and money.

Optimize your shortlisting process

Ultimately, a resume screening checklist will help you optimize your shortlisting process, reduce your time-to-hire, and reduce mishires. By getting everyone's feedback before posting a job, you'll know exactly what you're looking for, so you won't waste time on candidates who aren't going to be a fit.

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