Management March 17, 2022 Last updated March 17th, 2022 2,540 Reads share

How to Evaluate Candidates’ Resumes: 10 Key Tips to Speed Up the Shortlisting Process

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Resume evaluation is critical for choosing the right talent for your business. However, it can be long and frustrating. Looking through candidates’ resumes takes time, and if you aren’t careful, you can miss something. 

Establishing an efficient shortlisting process saves you time. It also ensures that you get the best people for the job. Here are a few tips to improve the shortlisting process. 


1) Prepare to Review Resumes

Preparing to review resumes ensures that everything you do goes smoothly. This is arguably the most critical part of the process. It lays the foundation for the rest of the job. 

Part of the process is comparing different candidates’ qualifications. You may need to use recruiting sites and electronic applications to aid the process. During this process, you need to prepare your resume evaluation tools. 

They include grammar and spelling-checking software. 

Good grammar doesn’t necessarily determine an employee’s ability to do the job. However, it can help you create a general impression of them. 

2) Create a Candidate Profile/Key Qualifications List

Create a list stating the qualities that your best employers need to have. This list can help narrow down your options. Here are a few essential things to include in your list:

  • The preferred level of education
  • the traits and characteristics of your ideal employees
  • the most useful skills for the job
  • Factors that will help you determine the perfect candidate

You can easily find candidates to fill your positions when you know precisely what you want. Your candidate profile is essential when reviewing resumes as it gives you some structure. It also helps you create a list of interview questions. 

3) Conduct an Initial Sort to Set Obvious ‘No’s Apart

Finding perfect candidates for the job can be difficult, especially if you have many resumes to look through. It would be easier to start by selecting evident ‘no’s. 

Since they are easier to find, you can save a lot of your time. Conducting this initial sort also increases your chances of finding the right talent for your team. 

Sorting through a pile of resumes in an attempt to find a diamond in the rough seems like a brilliant idea, but it isn’t. Disqualifying a few candidates first leaves you with a manageable number to work with. 

If applicants use skills-based templates for their resumes, you can easily scan and establish their suitability for the job. You can then focus most of your time and attention on the applicants with potential. 

4) Pay Attention to the Customized Cover Letter

The cover letter can be just as important as the resume. Look for a good presentation that is free of grammar and spelling mistakes. Applicants with poor or no cover letters are usually unqualified. 

Even though there are questions about cover letters and their necessity, they are still necessary. They offer a fantastic opportunity for applicants to showcase their suitability for the job. 

At a quick glance, you should be able to see that an applicant fulfills all your expectations regarding qualifications and experience. Create a shortlist based on attention to detail, suitability for the job, presentation, and grammar. 

5) Scan for History of Job Growth and Stability 

In the past, companies preferred candidates with long tenures at the companies they worked in. However, things have changed. Job stability and growth are more important. 

The ideal candidate doesn’t need to have worked in their last company for 20 years. In fact, that could be a red flag depending on the level of exposure they received while in that company. 

If an applicant has a history of growth, they are an asset to your company. You are likely to receive a solid return for your investment. 

6) Consider Their Recent Employers and Contribution

Review your employees’ last employers. In addition to their experience, you need to consider their accomplishments and contribution to their previous teams. Being experienced is pointless if the applicant hasn’t made any crucial contributions. 

7) Don’t Get Caught Up With Success that Won’t Reflect In Your Company

You want an employee with plenty of accomplishments. However, you shouldn’t get too excited over accomplishments that wouldn’t impact your business. 

If, for example, they helped their previous company scale from $1 million to $10 million, there is no guarantee that they will do the same for yours. If you are a $500,000 company, the experience is unlikely to transfer over. 

You would be better off hiring an applicant who worked with companies similar to yours. 

8) Use Relevant Keywords

If you scan resumes into databases, pay attention to the keywords. This can speed up the shortlisting process. You don’t need to go through the entire resume to determine an applicant’s suitability for the job. Ensure that your keywords are relevant and easy to find. 

9) Look Out for Red Flags

Potential red flags when looking at customer resumes include:

  • A career that seems to have hit a plateau
  • evidence that the career is going in the wrong direction
  • employment gaps
  • Proof of reducing responsibility
  • short-term employment at previous jobs
  • Multiple changes in their career path
  • Inability to match your company culture

10) Look for Specific and Measurable Accomplishments

The best resumes balance two main concepts that may seem to contradict each other: detail and conciseness. While you don’t want them to be too long, you must ensure that they offer all the necessary information. 

When you have plenty of applicants, you don’t have the time to look through three or four-page resumes. The best candidates can convey their experience and competence in a few words. 

Look for specific, measurable, and relevant accomplishments when reviewing resumes. Consider these statements;

  1. Used social media to boost online sales.
  2. Used Instagram and Facebook pages to announce promotions and engage followers. This increased online sales for the beachwear category by 13 percent.

The second statement is specific. It shows why the campaign was successful. In the end, it leaves no questions about what happened. On the other hand, the first sentence doesn’t tell you what platforms were used. It isn’t clear about the increase in sales. 


In conclusion, average corporate job openings receive about 250 applications. Therefore, recruiters and HR professionals have their work cut out for them. They must find ways to review hundreds of resumes fast and effectively. 

Even though candidates try to put their best foot forward, only a few of them can meet your company needs. 

Tips to speed up the shortlisting process include: scanning for a history of job growth and stability, paying attention to the cover letters, and setting the ‘no’s apart first. Use keywords in the search database and look out for red flags.

Michael Dunlop

Michael Dunlop

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