Resume Sorting

Category: Newsletters


I recently placed an employment ad and received hundreds of replies. Would you provide some advice for helping me get through this mountain of resumes and make the right hiring decision?

Mary, PA


The good news is that you have many candidates to choose from. The bad news is that it will take some time to find the best one.

Before you read a single resume, become clear on the skills, knowledge and abilities you are looking for in this person. Also, decide which are required and which are nice to have. Finally, look at it from the opposite direction and determine what, if any, attributes you don’t want this person to have. For example:

This person must be detail oriented, able to communicate well, and proficient at MS Word. It would be nice if they had experience using MS PowerPoint as well. It’s important this person not be sloppy as they will be representing the company in public.

Next, review your company’s internal brand document. Other helpful documents include the company’s mission statement, vision statement, or credo. If these do not exist, think about what your organization believes in and stands for. You will get some clues from what upper management talks about as well as their actions. Finally, look at the office culture. It’s important that you find someone who will fit into the existing culture and share the same values as it’s much easier to train someone on skills than to change an attitude and its associated behaviors.

Now you are ready to sit down and review the resumes. As you read, look for evidence that they possess the skills, knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes you are looking for. For example,

  • If you are looking for someone who is detail oriented, pay special attention to typos.
  • If you are looking for someone to present a professional image, look at the over all presentation of the resume: Is it professional looking?
  • If you are hiring a sales person, is he selling himself in a way that is consistent with how your company does business? 

As you finish each resume, place it into one of three piles: +, 0, -.

  • Resumes for people who appear to be an ideal fit go in the + pile.
  • Those resumes that are positively, absolutely not the right fit go in the – pile.
  • The 0 pile will contain resumes that are almost, but not quite, an ideal fit. This is your back up pile in case you don’t find the person you are looking for in the + pile.

When you have finished, if the + pile is still large you may want to pare it down further by moving some to the 0 pile, conducting telephone interviews, or asking someone else to go through just that pile and do the same thing you just did.

Good luck and have a great day!