Become a resume screening champion

Ange Connor

Reading through resumes and deciding who to take through to the next stage of the recruitment process can be a time consuming process. Depending on the type of job you have advertised for you may have been inundated with applications and need to weed out the applications that don’t meet your selection criteria as quickly as possible. In today’s business world, where everyone is time poor, most people want to be able to screen that pile of resumes as quickly as possible but without compromising the recruitment process by ruling out a great potential candidate. Industry experts say that people will make a judgement on a resume in the first 7 seconds that they look at it, so if you want to keep up with the best of the best and become a resume screening champion here is where you should focus your attention.

A poor or ill aligned career statement or summary

A wishy washy vague career statement is not going to hook me nor is a statement that indicates the candidate is passionate and keen to further develop their career in retail when the job I’m recruiting for is in administration. This can indicate a copy and paste which reflects a lack of attention to detail and effort in customising their application. This statement can be a great way to gauge the candidates’ genuine interest and fit for the role as well as giving you an insight in to who they are and why they are applying.

Employment Dates

No employment dates are a red flag for me, are they trying to hide that they haven’t stayed in a job long and that there are gaps in their work history. If there are dates, are there gaps in employment? There may be a logical explanation but be sure to proceed with caution here. A stand out resume for me lists the month and the year the person started and finished in the role – they have nothing to hide. Just having the year is a common way to hide that they may have only been in the role for a week or a month but to the reader it looks like a year.

Relevant work experience

I’d suggest focusing in on the responsibilities listed under each position. Don’t fall in to the trap of honing in on the position title. People tend to pigeon hole and rule them in or out of the process based on title. Titles can mean a different level of responsibility in different organisations and with the creative titles that we come up with these days sometimes a title tells you nothing about what the candidate actually did or was responsible for. Focus on the responsibilities and look for transferable skills, a great resume will give context around their responsibilities so you should be easily able to align them to the responsibilities of the job you are screening for.


If you are screening for a role which has non-negotiable qualifications you should focus on this section of the resume first. Then it’s a yes no question, they either meet the criteria or they don’t. If your role doesn’t require specific qualifications and it’s simply desirable, check this section quickly then spend your time focusing on the relevant work experience and skills sections to identify relevant experience and transferable skills.

Work Achievements

I am a fan of work achievements. I like to see how a candidate has contributed or made a difference, how they have gone over and above in their role. It can also be interesting to see what they consider as an achievement and what they are proud of.

Personal Accomplishments / Community or Volunteer Involvement

Not all resumes include this info but if you’re reviewing a resume and it does, be sure to hone in on what’s listed. This section adds a personal element so you can get a bit of a feel for who they are and what they are about. This information can add to or compliment the candidates’ transferable skills, culture fit, and highlight their genuine interest in the industry or company.

As you are screening your way through the mountain of resumes, don’t forget to take in the look and feel of the resume. The way the resume is presented and formatted can highlight a lot about the candidates’ ability to produce a business document or their writing skills. Typos of course are an instant “to the unsuccessful pile” for me. While you might be time poor and need to screen the resumes as quickly as possible, ensuring you invest the time to screen the resumes thoroughly will ensure you take the right candidates through to interview, giving you a better chance at appointing the right candidate for the job.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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