Streamlining resume review

By Scott Sargis
Published In Electronic Engineering Times
June 9, 2003

With so many candidates for each opening, many employers feel they are in the driver’s seat. The ease with which respondents can apply online, however, has created a bottleneck in hiring. A recent survey conducted by, which queried 5,000 hiring managers and recruiters, found that 92 percent of those surveyed said that they were inundated with responses that were irrelevant to their job postings. The survey found that:

  • Seventy-one percent said that a majority of resumes did not match their opening.
  • Sixty-three percent noted a trend of job seekers “blasting out” unsolicited resumes.
  • Thirty-four percent said that online candidates failed to follow specific resume submission instructions found in the job posting.

With such a data overload, what can an employer do to better screen talent?

The basic architectural structure of most online systems is flawed. They are designed to cast as wide a net as possible. Therefore, little can be done on the front end. But you can employ some simple back-end techniques to aid screening. With current technology, a little additional time and no additional expense, you can design a series of questions customized for each position to be forwarded as either an automatic response to an incoming online resume or an acknowledgement e-mail to follow.

Depending on your requirements, a couple of recommended questions are:

  • “Break down for me by a pie chart what your tasks were over the last three months of your last job (for example, if you are a software engineer: 70 percent C coding and 30 percent verification).” The caveat is to offer a useful example that is both relevant to your job specifications and instructive to the job seeker.
  • “If I called your last two managers and some of your peers, what would they tell me are your strengths and weaknesses with respect to (your job specifications)?” Candidates tend to give more honest assessments of their skills and abilities if they believe that you are going to investigate.
  • “On a scale of 1 to 10 whereby “10” is a master, “5” is average knowledge and “1” is no knowledge, how would you rate your abilities in (for each of the technical skills you seek)?”
  • “How many months or years of experience do you have (for each of the technical skills you seek)?” Though some job boards try to provide that information, you can easily customize this to your needs and add an additional layer of screening to the process.

Though no system is foolproof, adding another pre-screening layer to the back end, which includes strong relevant questions, can quickly and inexpensively reduce your online recruiting load. This information can be quickly viewed before investing any more time in the process. This will help you streamline your screening efforts and lead to better hiring decisions.