Posted By:

Cheryl Miles on March 24, 2016

Effective Ways to Sift Through That Pile of Resumes

You’re trying to fill a vacant position to find the best possible candidate for your company and culture. You’ve had a positive response, which is great — but now a huge stack of resumes looms on your desk like a sleeping giant. To streamline the process, implement the right strategies to effectively sift through that pile of resumes and find a superstar without becoming overwhelmed.


Take Advantage of Technology

In the past, combing through resumes had to be done manually and was incredibly time-consuming. Fortunately, technology has made it possible to filter through dozens or even hundreds of resumes much more quickly and efficiently with an application tracking system or ATS. This type of software allows you to narrow down applicants based on criteria such as skills, qualifications, experience and educational background.

In turn, you can expedite this process and separate the wheat from the chaff to find a smaller list of candidates who would be a great fit for your company. You can compare some of the top ATS software systems on a guide found on the Software Advice website.


What to Look For

When you’re dealing with a high volume of applicants, it’s smart to look for individuals who go the extra mile and put forth just a little more effort than the others. This shows that they have a strong interest and are serious about getting hired rather than simply going through the motions. For instance, you might look for a resume that’s accompanied by an interesting cover letter rather than something that’s completely generic and lacking personality.

Some other things to look for in candidates include:

  • The exact qualifications and level of experience you’re looking for
  • Articulate and concise resume content
  • Specific facts (e.g. they helped increased productivity by 20 percent during their tenure)


What to Discard

  • Resumes with spelling and grammatical errors as this shows a lack of attention to detail
  • Lack of longevity where applicants consistently spend less than two years at former jobs
  • Generic fluff content (e.g. they are a team player)
  • Significant employment gaps without a valid explanation


Looking Beyond the Resume

A resume definitely gives insight into a candidate, but it by no means tells the whole story. To truly gauge the value of a person, examine intangible soft skills such as work ethic, motivation, adaptability, flexibility, communication skills and so on. Because this usually requires personal interaction through phone, video conferencing or a face-to-face meeting, save this step until last after you’ve already narrowed your list down to only a handful of applicants.

In order to assess a candidate’s soft skills, ask the right questions. A list of 10 interview questions on the Omnia website gives some examples of what to ask to determine various soft skills.


The mountain of resumes on your desk can no doubt be overwhelming and even a little maddening. Using the right approach allows you to sift through the pile of resumes to identify the strongest contenders without waking the giant.


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