Reviewing 100’s of resumes for your posted job is overwhelming especially when it isn’t your primary responsibility. Breaking down this task into 2 phases, the quick scan and detail review, will help you with efficient resume screening and identifying your top candidates.

Before you start screening resumes, keep these three questions in mind;

  1. What will the ideal candidate do in this job?
  2. What skills will the new hire need next year and the year after?
  3. Does this person have the real experience or applicable experience to be successful?

The answer to these questions will help you find the right candidate for today that will grow into tomorrow’s role.

The Two Phase Resume Screening Process

As mentioned, resume screening is a 2 phase process, a quick scan and a detail scan. The quick scan will help you weed out most of your applicants. Then you can dive into a detailed review with the remaining.

Phase 1 – Quick Scan

The initial quick scan of resumes can help you filter from 40% up to 60% of your applicants. Note, if you are receiving 50% or more bad resumes, think about changing the location of your advertised posting.

When scanning the resume you should be able to pull quickly the following information;


Look at how the applicant presents their resume. Is it in logical order? Is it 1 or 2 fonts or several different fonts? Is it clear and easy to read? You shouldn’t judge if the person used a professional resume service or not but look to see if there was care put into the creation of their resume. Now, if the person is a graphic designer or other creative type, then you should see their creativity in the presentation.

Previous Companies

Where the applicant worked previously can tell a great deal about their chances of success at your company. Think about the size of their previous companies, the culture, and industry. Usually, not always, people who are successful working in large organizations tend to have challenges working for a small startup and vice versa. If the applicants come from a more formal organization, and your company is more casual; the applicant might be in for a culture shock if hired. The same goes for industry; you should consider the learning curve of a new industry. The most ideal is to find someone from your competitor since they will be the easiest “plug and play” new hire.

Job Titles

A rose by any other name is still a rose. There are several unique and very creative job titles for the same job. However, if you are looking for a sales person and your applicant has been a Java developer for the past 10 years, it’s safe to say they are not a fit. Unless of course you are looking for a former developer to sell your product.


The discussion of job hopping and employment gaps is very debatable.  Wherever you land on this debate, look at their job timeline to be sure it aligns. When viewing employment gaps, you should consider the market during that time e.g. mass job loss during the Covid-19 era.

Phase 2 – Detail Review

After weeding out resumes that truly don’t fit, it is time to go back and review the ones that are possible choices. This is a good time to review your IEP (Ideal Employee Profile) to be sure you are pulling the top candidates.

Responsibilities and Accomplishments

Reviewing the applicant’s list of responsibilities and accomplishments is obvious. When reading their list, think about not only how the applicant’s responsibilities and accomplishments apply to your open requisition, but what is written. Is the list a basic list? Did they put thought into what they achieved? Were there any actual achievements? What is written will provide insight into how active they are in driving their career and if they are passionate about their work.

Choice of Words

The choice of words within their responsibilities and accomplishments will also tell you a great deal about their previous roles. Were they participants, active managers, or creators of projects? What do you need this person to do? If they are creators of projects, they probably wouldn’t like to simply be participants.


There are some who say spelling and grammar mistakes are not a big deal. If attention to detail isn’t a need in your open requisition, then you could overlook it. However, the resume is a reflection of the applicant. If they didn’t put the time into presenting themselves in the best light, what will their level of effort be in doing the work for you?

Final Thoughts

Resume screening process may seem overwhelming. You will be amazed how fast you can decrease that “stack” of resumes when you run the quick scan giving you the time back to provide thoughtful consideration to the serious applicants.