How to Shortlist the Right Candidates When Reviewing ResumesHiring is an exhausting process, especially when you’re a small business owner. You don’t have a Human Resources department to do the legwork for you; instead all you’ve got is a small team that has to wear many hats while trying to expand.

You’ve got to write out a job posting, get it up on the right job boards and career sites, and then wait for the applicants to trickle in. Now more than ever, thanks to the internet, even small businesses can get hundreds of applicants for one role. So your life just got harder.

You already don’t have enough manpower to look through all of the applications, but just to hire someone new you need to spend hours reviewing resumes and conducting interviews to figure out who that “someone” is. That’s why you need to approach the hiring process like a recruiter looking for the right candidate.

Recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing an applicant’s resume before deciding to read further or to trash it, according to a 2012 study on recruiter behaviour released by The Ladders. Think about how much time you’ll save by only wasting six seconds on a bad resume.

The real question is – how will you know it’s a bad resume after only six seconds? That’s where we come in. We’ve created a list of four items to focus on in those six seconds. Treat this as a checklist, if you don’t like what you see on the resume in regards to these four qualifications, then trash it and pick up the next one.

1. Most Recent Role

Glance at what their current or most recent position title is and how long they’ve held the role for. Ideally you want the candidate to hold a role related to the position they are applying for, and you want them to have stayed in this role for at least a year.

2. Academic Background

Your second glance should be looking for their academic section. What did the candidate study in school and is it related to the role they are applying for? Also take a look at how long ago they finished school and if they’ve completed any other programs or professional development courses.

3. Technical Skills

First make a list of the programs the candidate will be using on a daily basis in the role you’ve posted. Ensure to mention those program names in the job posting itself. When you receive a candidate’s resume, they should clearly mention if they have proficiency in these programs.

4. Experience

Depending on the level of role you are hiring for, experience can be an incredibly important factor or a less important factor. Scan the resume to see how many roles the candidate has held in the last ten years, and if the roles are related to the position they are applying for. If you are looking to fill an entry-level role, check to see if the candidate has completed any co-op placements or internships related to the field to ensure they have real-world experience.

Remember each of these steps involves a glance through the resume and a quick scan of the information you are looking for. At first, this process may take up to 15 seconds per resume, but you’ll eventually become more efficient at spotting the candidates who will succeed from the ones who aren’t qualified.

If your candidate passes through all four steps, take a few minutes to read the entire resume and decide if you’re interested enough to bring them in for an interview. If they don’t make it through the first four steps, then toss the resume aside. Use this checklist to minimize the amount of time you spend on candidates who are not qualified for the role, and to increase the efficiency of your hiring process.

About the Author: provides professional resume writing services for clients of all career levels across North America. We are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume coupled with the guidance of recruiters, to guarantee that your resume will get results.