Looking for the Right Employee? Tips for Sorting Through Job Candidates Faster


A well-written job opening can attract dozens or even hundreds of applicants. To find the most qualified applicants quickly, target specific areas of each application or resume to look for the most important information. This can help you narrow the pool of job candidates to those who are likeliest to be a good fit for the available position.


Check to see which applicants have the right academic credentials for the job. A high school diploma might be enough, but what if an applicant has a G.E.D. or is planning to graduate in six months? Be intentional when deciding if and how you will adjust job requirements like education. Some people who indicated they would be graduating with a college degree within a year got hired but ultimately did not finish college. Look for signs that the applicant follows through on professional goals and plans, like earning an earlier degree or winning awards in personal or professional endeavors.


The ideal candidates will have job skills that match your job opening. Find out how long the person has had the requisite skill and how effectively it has been used. Often, a current employer can answer those questions, or the information may be available in another part of the resume, such as work history, where former or current job duties are described at least briefly. If the resume looks good in other ways despite evidence of the essential job skills, see if there are indications that the person is willing to get additional training on request for this job if hired.


Work experience is another critical factor when screening applications. Check for gaps in the person’s work history and see if there are reasons for them. These might include leaving the workforce temporarily to raise a family, military service, or overseas volunteerism. A strong applicant whose job experience does not exactly fit with your job description might fit the role in other ways that can be adapted to the position.


An application or resume without references can be discarded unless you want to remind the person to submit names of individuals who can vouch for them. Contact each reference to learn what they can tell you about the applicant. The task of reference checking can be time consuming, but it is an essential step to confirming the applicant’s credibility and support by other professionals.

You can quickly screen numerous applicants by focusing on these four categories of information. Look for clues that reveal whether a person could be a good fit with your company.

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