Let’s be honest, it’s no easy job reading through CVs. It can either bring out the ruthless side of you, or the overly-empathetic side. It’s the stage of recruiting that many candidates are extremely cynical about, but if you’ve got 250 CVs (the average number of applicants corporations get for any one job posting) you need to get through those… and make sure the most qualified people for the job make it through to interviews.
What you need is a system that’s efficient, but also compliant and fair for your applicants
Recruiting software will do a lot of the donkey work here, filtering out the candidates with the best skills match, but when you get down to the final 20 or so, you need to carefully go through these applications. Your approach should also be flexible as no one role is going to be the same. What you need is a system that’s efficient, but also compliant and fair for your applicants. Here’s a few things to bear in mind.
First things first, decide on the number you want to interview. This gives you a general reference to work towards and helps you to be discerning about the candidates you have in front of you. Consider doing this final round of CV screening with a colleague. A fresh pair of eyes can bring a whole new insight on your candidates.
Define the criteria: when recruiting for a specific role, there are certain skills that you are not going to be able to do without. When looking at the skills required in a candidate for any role you’re hiring for, it may be worthwhile implementing a scoring system. The two main skills groups you should look at are ‘essential’ and ‘preferable’. Essential skills are those you cannot do without, preferable skills are those that can be easily trained or developed in a successful candidate.
Keep the essential skills down to a brief list
When setting out your essential and preferred skills, you should probably have about twice as many preferred skills as essential skills. If your list of essential skills are getting too broad or nebulous, you’re only making your own job more difficult. Keep the essential skills down to a brief list.
Even your list of essential and preferred skills can be subdivided again. You can look at a candidate’s technical skills, work experience and personal experience. A candidate’s technical skills may be certification in industry standards or key skills competencies. Work experience is obvious enough – do they have professional experience demonstrating particular skills? Personal skills can demonstrate communications skills or creativity, which can be shown in particular experiences.
A quick look over social media will help you to determine if someone is a good cultural fit or if the work experience they listed on a CV matches up with what you see on LinkedIn
When you’re getting down to the nitty gritty of filtering candidates, it may be worthwhile using spelling, grammar, inconsistencies or content errors as criteria for elimination. Looking at gaps in a CV or frequent job changes can also be criteria for whittling down candidates, but this comes with a health warning – there can be good reasons for this, so unless it’s a glaring issue, it may be something worth discussing during phone screening or interview stage. Similarly, keep an eye out for cultural differences. What might be acceptable to include in a CV in another country may look conspicuous to you, so be sensitive to such differences.
Significant in this final stage is reference checks or background checks. Even a quick look over social media will help you to determine if someone is a good cultural fit or if the work experience they listed on a CV matches up with what you see on LinkedIn.
What to take away: while recruiting software can be discerning for you and make the job of finding top candidates a little easier, the ultimate job of selecting candidates will be done by you and your colleagues. Make sure that all candidates are getting an answer, and where possible feedback. Make sure that the work you put into screening candidates has some learning value for them in the long run.