The Best Way to Sift Through All Those Resumes

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The world is full of hundreds of thousands of Job Seekers and most of them are technically qualified to do the job. But you don’t want just anyone. You’re on the hunt for your ideal employee. So, to that end, you’ve put your best job ad in the best place to attract the best candidates. The reward for your efforts is hundreds of great looking resumes filling your inbox and falling off of the piles you’ve stacked on your desk. Now what?

Well now the job of gathering, reviewing, sorting and discounting starts. This can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some strategies for getting to the bottom of the pile and coming up with the list of candidates to interview.

What do you REALLY need?

First, you need to decide what you’re looking for. Yes you’ve written something like that for your job ad but take a closer look at it now. For this phase of your hiring process, you need to use the list of skills and attitudes that you created for your job ad to create a grading system for the resumes. For example, you’ve stated in your ad for an Office Clerk that word processing and bookkeeping skills are required. Well, which of these skills is most important? Do you hire the person with the most bookkeeping experience over the person with the most word processing experience or the other way around? You need to decide now how much “weight” you’re going to give each skill and attitude.

Take a Systematic Approach

Use a clear point system to grade each resume as objectively as possible. There’s some room for subjectivity but taking a systematic approach minimizes it. You want to be as objective as possible when going through the pile of resumes so that you’re not needlessly influenced by extra information, vague information, or employment gaps in a resume. Here’s how it works.

You’ve decided that word processing skills are more important to the job of Office Clerk than bookkeeping skills. So, you’re going to award 2 points for every year of word processing experience that the candidate has and 1 point for every year of bookkeeping experience that they have. That’s pretty objective. You’ve also decided that leadership and creative problem solving are very important so you’re going to award points on a scale of 1-5 to candidates whose resumes illustrate these traits. One point for “not so much”, 3 points for “sort of”, and 5 points for “definitely”, etc.

This is the subjective side of the grading system. You can leave this aspect of the system as subjective as you like or you can delve into exactly what you define as, in this case, “Leadership”. It’s up to you. Write these scales down and photocopy them on small pieces of paper. You’re going to use those papers to help you grade each resume for sorting.

Grading the Resumes

Now, let’s say that Margaret has applied at your company for the job as Office Clerk. She has 3 years experience word processing and 2 years as a junior bookkeeper. She also chaired the charitable committee with a previous employer.

Tom has also applied for the job of Office Clerk. Tom has 4 years bookkeeping and 1 year using word processing software. Tom was also on the team that helped implement the new accounting software in his previous company. Now use your grading system to rate these two candidates.

Word Processing

6 points
2 points
5 points
13 points

9 points

Here you can see that Margaret scored higher and you can safely move her resume higher up on the pile than Tom’s.

By deciding in advance what your priorities are and sticking to them with a specific grading system, you’ll be able to get through that pile of resumes in no time. Also, when you have other employees and you’re involving them in the vetting process, you’ll all have a common tool to use when sorting and comparing resumes. There will be fewer arbitrary, personal or subjective decisions made and the whole process will be far more clear cut and workable.



Kathy Legg, President and Senior Employee Engagement Evangelist at LittleBrownMouse,

With over 25 years experience, Kathy Legg specializes in the art of employee retention and engagement. “We’re all about employee engagement, enthusiasm, commitment, and helping clients see how they can encourage and foster a successful corporate culture”. Her company, “LittleBrownMouse” partners with business owners to create clear, simple strategies and individualized hiring and employee engagement systems that lead to positive and profitable organizations and businesses.

Kathy is also an accomplished and dynamic public speaker. In addition to regularly delivering lively and informative seminars and workshops for her clients, Kathy has also been invited to speak on a wide range of timely business topics at Train the Trainer Conferences, Executive Training Workshops, and been a Guest Lecturer at several post-secondary institutes.

Kathy has also written a book entitled, “That Book About Hiring People” that is expected to launch this Fall through Langdon Street Press. Learn more about how to get a Sneak Peek at the first chapter by going to

Subscribe for Free to her monthly Recruiting and Employee Engagement Tips and also receive her latest report, “Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Your Best Employees”



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