Careers Succeeding at Work The Best Way to Review a Resume Tips on How You Can Review Resumes to Select Superior Candidates Share PINTEREST Email Print shapecharge/Getty Images Succeeding at Work Human Resources Hiring Best Practices Job Search Resources Glossary Employment Law Employee Motivation Employee Management Management Careers Management & Leadership Employee Benefits Table of Contents Expand Determine a Salary Range Develop a Key Qualifications List Job Posting Example Marketing Specialist Preparing to Review Resumes Steps in the Resume Review By Susan M. Heathfield Susan M. Heathfield Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 11/03/20 The work of resume review starts well before the applicant resumes fill your inbox. Reviewing a resume starts with a job description or role profile so that you know broadly what the job entails. Part of the job description, in an effective job description, details the qualifications and experience of the candidate you seek to fill the job. Using the key qualifications and experience you identified for the role, develop your online and offline job postings, post them on your recruiting website, and make them available to contacts and employees for referrals. Determine a Salary Range Then, determine the salary range by using a market pay study and the additional salary research materials you have on hand. Better candidates will inquire about the pay range before they invest a lot of time in your company. Be prepared with an appropriate response so as not to lose your best candidates. This issue is a long-term controversy for people who work in Human Resources, but it is a matter of respectful treatment of candidates. Your best potential candidates are not going to waste a lot of time applying for positions without knowing the salary range. They don't want to apply for a $50,000 job when their expectations for their salary are $60,000+. Can you blame them? Develop a Key Qualifications List or Candidate Profile This process gets you started. The next key is for HR staff and the hiring manager to narrow down all of this information. Create a list that spells out your most important candidate selection criteria. This is often called a candidate profile. You’ll want to list: the key characteristics or traits,the most important skills,the most relevant experiencethe desired educational level, andthe other most important factors that you will consider in candidate selection. You now have distilled the job information into a list you can use to write ads, post jobs online, or highlight on your recruiting website. This list is the essence of the candidate you seek to fill your open job. This candidate profile is a list of key experiences, skills, traits, and education and is essential for reviewing resumes. It forces discipline into the resume review process and gives you valuable criteria to use in resume review, and later, in candidate comparison. The list also serves as the basis for the job interview questions you will use in screening and in-person interviews with candidates for your job. Job Posting Example Following is an example of an actual job posting that was created from a list of key qualifications. Notice that the candidate’s qualifications are carefully defined. Marketing Specialist Company X, an award-winning global leader in xxx, xxx, and xxx of xxx seeks a motivated, proactive, Marketing Specialist to develop marketing materials and website content, design ads, and generally, support the work of the marketing function. The successful candidate has a degree in marketing, and 1-3 years of experience in advertising, website development, and Internet competitive research. The successful candidate is an independent self-starter, creative, customer service oriented, and writes well, Must be familiar with web design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Company X offers a competitive salary and a generous benefits package. Please send or post on our recruiting website a resume with salary requirements. This posting enables you to screen resumes and evaluate potential candidates. The job posting ensures that you don’t settle for a person who is less qualified than the individual you were seeking. Or, you may occasionally decide that you underpriced the market in terms of the qualifications you seek at the salary you want to pay. In a recent search for a Planning and Scheduling Supervisor, as an example, a manufacturing company found that the $60,000 they wanted to pay the chosen employee, will not attract the qualified person they had hoped to find for the job. Their best applicants already make $75,000 as stated in their cover letters and on their resumes. All of this information helps you scan resumes more quickly. The information and preparation help you narrow down the many resumes to the chosen few resumes with greater accuracy. This preparation makes resume review relatively painless. Preparing to Review Resumes The preparation for resume review enables you to get down to the serious job of applicant resume review quickly. Set aside a block of time whenever possible. Part of resume screening is comparing one candidate’s qualifications and credentials to those listed in the other resumes you have received. Additionally, with the use of electronic applications and recruiting websites that accept applications, resume screening has taken on new dimensions. Some of the traditional devices used to screen resumes no longer bear the weight they once did. These include the quality of the stationery, the design of the actual document, and the envelope in which the documents arrived. Still viable for mailed-in resumes, these are useless for electronic applications, especially applications from job boards that can lose their formatting. In a typical website job application, you will fill out a form to apply and then the company supplies a button that allows you to attach your resume and cover letter. Employers can read these applications online and forward the link to members of the screening committee. Some employers and screeners still print the application; others read the resumes online. Other resume screening techniques never go out of style, including the search for proper spelling and grammar. Your quick, first skim of the resume should yield an overall impression of your candidate's carefulness and attention to detail. Potential employees, who make careless mistakes in application materials such as resumes, do not warrant the attention that a more careful candidate deserves. Assuming the candidate's resume passes an initial inspection, this is the recommended process for reviewing resumes. Steps in the Resume Review Read the customized cover letter. Look especially for a flawless presentation in the cover letter, correct spelling and grammar, and the applicant’s attention to detail. What—there is no cover letter? This is the downside of electronic resume spamming. Receiving countless, usually unqualified, applicant resumes, occurs following every job posting. The tip-off? Usually, unqualified applicants fail to write a cover letter. Worth noting, too, is the fact that advice to job applicants has changed. Disagreement exists about whether a cover letter is still a necessary component of an application. Supporters contend that it is a wonderful opportunity for an applicant to demonstrate that their credentials are perfect for your job requirements. Then, choose, or choose not, to continue your resume review at this point. Scan the resume to obtain an overall impression of the applicant. You'll want to see at a glance that the applicant fulfills your key expectations. experience, and qualifications of the person whom you would hire. Look especially for a flawless presentation, correct spelling and grammar, and their attention to detail. Paper resumes must pass the “feel” test. In the first skim, look for the easy-to-find qualifications. (As an example, if you are requiring a college degree, does the applicant have one?) If not, reject the resume or place it in your “maybe” meets the qualifications pile or electronic folder.Read the description of what the candidate says they are looking for in their next job. Is the statement customized to your job or does it describe any job in the world? For example, generally reject resumes that make statements such as, “I seek a challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth." Honestly, you’ve got to do better than to offer this type of generality to pass the resume screen.Look for a summary statement of qualifications and experience. If the candidate has taken the time and customized their summary for your job, this enables you to quickly find the characteristics you seek from your role profile. These resumes quickly hit the “further review” pile. Resumes Are in Databases So Focus on Keywords Applicants also need to recognize that more and more, larger organizations are scanning resumes into databases. When a job becomes available, resumes are scanned for relevant keywords. Make the keywords easy to find. Recent Employers and Contributions Review the most recent employers and the applicant’s stated experience, accomplishments, and contributions. At this point, you must have found a significant cross-over between the applicant’s resume and your requirements. Place the resume in your “to be reviewed further” folder unless you have encountered problems. Red Flags for Employers Red flags at this point in your resume review, that are unexplained on the resume or in the cover letter, include employment gaps, evidence of decreasing responsibility, evidence of a career that has reached a plateau or even gone in the wrong direction, short-term employment at several jobs, and multiple shifts in career path. Review your selected resumes against your criteria and each other. Conduct a Phone Interview You will want to telephone interview the seemingly qualified candidates. Schedule interviews with the candidates who pass your initial screen. The Bottom Line The more you review resumes, the better your resume review will become. With practice, you may begin to refer to your resume review as gone in twenty seconds, or even, gone in ten seconds, while your resume review continues to yield great candidates.