Businessman select a contact from a list with the profile imagesHow much time does your company or recruiting team spend sifting through resumes?

Is the amount of time and cost justifiable/acceptable?

Could the time spent on resume sifting (often inappropriate applications) be better used in other areas of the hiring process to improve quality and job satisfaction?

If you do believe that you have an overly laborious resume sifting process, you might be interested in the five techniques that I have outlined below that you can use to more efficiently screen out the masses and free up time to focus on more value-added work.

1. Include a ‘deal breaker skills’ section at the top of the job advert

Include a ‘deal breaker skills’ section right at the top of the job vacancy that outlines the deal breaker criteria and stipulates quite cogently that, “if candidates do not have the following skills, they will not be invited for interview and need not apply”. Making the selection criteria a headline will ensure it catches the eye of all readers; it will have a greater chance of deterring inappropriate applicants and attracting suitable applicants, than if hidden away at the end of the job description among a long list of criteria

2. Include hidden instructions that enable you to identify more genuine applicants

Place some specific application instructions within the job description, ideally at the end under application instructions, so you can quickly identify attentive applicants who have applied in the correct way. For example, ask applicants to apply quoting a specific code in the subject header of the email, or to answer a specific question and to put the answer on the very first line of their email message. You might want to dismiss those who fail to do this as showing sufficient individual attention to your job description and not having properly considered the job description and role before applying (It is not what I would call a considered application and doesn’t bode well). If dismissing seems too harsh, at least ask them to re-read the application instructions and apply in the right way.

3. Have candidates submit a unique document as part of the application

Most application processes adopt a template approach (resume plus cover letter), which is an approach that makes it easy for applicants to make multiple, repetitive applications to many companies. Template style application processes can result in high volumes of unconsidered, inappropriate applications. Make your application process unique in some way by having candidates complete an unusual application exercise, such as prepare a 2 minute video pitch of product X, or critique this website, etc. This approach may deter the less resolute, giving you a lower volume but higher quality applicant stream.

4. Video Interviewing

There is plenty of software on the market, such as Taketheinterview.com, Hirevue, Interviewstream, etc., which makes it very easy for you to email all your applicants a small set of pre-screening questions that they can video a response to and upload to the system. Putting this hurdle in will cull the masses and give you an effective and efficient means of cross comparing and pre-screening your applicants.

5. Pre-screening tests

Use sites like Brainbench.com (SHL) to set up a suite of online pre-screening aptitude and attainment tests. This should deter the less resolute. Cost may be an issue here, but you save time as the tests can allow you to quickly prioritize who you might invite to interview.

And, of course, another effective way to screen out the masses or at least rank applications is to use an applicant tracking system to automate the resume sifting and short-listing process. Not innovative? Well, by definition if you are not using one now, it’s innovative!

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in Recruitment and Selection]