Your first introduction to employment candidates will be through their resume. Since you may receive hundreds of resumes when you place an ad for employment, you'll want to develop a process that will help get you through the stack quickly -- without missing potential star employees.

At any stage in the process, if the resume does not meet your standards, put it in the "no" pile and stop reviewing it. If there's something about the resume that makes you hesitate to say "no," put it in a "maybe" pile and focus your efforts on finding resumes with a more definite "yes" response. You can go back to your "maybe" pile later, if needed.

First Impressions

Gone are the days of fancy stationery or eye-catching designs. In this electronic world, it's difficult to ensure good formatting via e-mail messages or online application systems. However, candidates can still make sure their resumes look their best.

Even in the age of electronic resumes, candidates should still include a cover letter or, at the very least, a brief introduction before their resume. If there isn't one, that may tell you something about the candidate. Keep an eye out for spelling or grammar mistakes, or other indications that the candidate did not do a careful job of writing and reviewing.

Get a general sense of whether the candidate uses specific examples ("I sold 100 widgets a month and increased revenue by 50 percent") or generalities ("I sold a lot of widgets") throughout the resume.

After your first quick skim, what is your impression of the candidate?


Scan the resume again to find your requirements, such as education or years of experience. Read through the qualifications to determine first if the candidate meets the requirements you have set for the position. If not, do they possess other skills that may make them a valuable employee? Can they be trained in the skills they are currently lacking?

You should also note whether or not the resume addresses the specific requirements listed in your ad. That can tell you whether the candidate sent you a resume that is customized to your position, or if they sent you the same resume they've sent to several other companies.

Take a close look at the candidate's employment history, too. Have they worked for other companies that are similar to yours, or are they coming from an entirely different field? Are there career path changes or unexplained gaps in their employment history?

Overall Impression

After you've read through the resume once or twice, how do you feel about the candidate? Are you anxious to get them on the phone for an interview? Or are they only so-so? Does the resume tone suggest a personality that will fit with your company? (This can sometimes be hard to determine on paper, unless the tone is clearly humorous or clearly negative.)

When you find a "yes" resume, contact the candidate for further information. The best way to do this is by phone; a candidate's phone manner can give you additional insight and information about the candidate. Ask a few basic questions, such as "Tell me why you're interested in this position" or "Tell me more about your responsibilities at XYZ Company." If the phone interview goes well, invite the candidate for a face-to-face interview.

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