15 Tricks to Narrow Down Job Candidates Faster

Question: It's nearly impossible to read through every resume word for word. What techniques do you use to get through stacks of resumes fast while also making sure that you pick the best talent for the job?

Question by: Sara

Seach Social Media Profiles

"When I get a resume, the first thing I do is look at the links to their social media profiles. I receive award-winning cover letters and resumes, and then look at someone's social media sites and see them cursing up a storm or posting inappropriate photos on their blogs. You can get the best possible picture of who someone is by how they act in social media -- not what they write in their resume."

- Kris Ruby | President, Ruby Media Group

All Is Fair in Formatting

"The way an individual crafts a resume should tell you something about them. Read the first few lines, up to half the page before deciding to keep going or toss it in the trash. Without reading the whole thing, you get can a good idea of their best skills and qualities within the first half of the page, since individuals will arrange the most important things first, and the least important, last."

- Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Advisor and Lead Evangelist, Blank Label
Leverage Quick Filters

"Just pick one. Is the format clean and professional? Is the objective statement well-written and tailored to your company, as opposed to something generic? What was their GPA? I'm not a huge proponent of GPA, but in a large stack a 3.8 usually indicates that someone knows how to work work hard, apply themselves and be disciplined."


Where's the Proof?

"You're right, it is impossible to read through all those resumes and it's not worth your time. Make them show you real work and projects they have done, either in school or at past jobs. I don't care about GPA or how many minors someone has -- show me what you've done and how you will be a valuable part of my team."

- John Meyer | Founder/CEO, Lemonly

Longevity and Loyalty

"A key indicator of future performance is past performance. To weed out resumes quickly, I look at longevity. Check to see how long they've stuck around at past jobs. If I see six months, nine months, three months, and so on in one resume, I automatically pass. If I see someone who has been dedicated at each company and stayed for a while, it shows me that the person has capacity for loyalty."


Include a Quirky Instruction

"I always make a specific off-the-wall request to observe who will read carefully and follow instructions. Examples include asking for a favorite color or asking for an answer found on our website. In all of my companies, noting the details and following instructions are a must. If they can't follow instructions in a job ad, it's improbable that they'll be a good fit for us."


Favor Referrals Over Resumes

"If any of the applicants have come recommended by people you trust, focus on those resumes first. A personal endorsement of someone's abilities, work ethic and character is more important than a stunning resume."

- Elizabeth Saunders | Founder & CEO, Real Life E®

Digital Resumes Reign

"Resumes are becoming obsolete! Instead of reviewing their resume word for word, analyze their online personal brand to verify who they are, what they've done and what makes them different. If they are active on social networks, carry some influence, and have evidence of the work they've done, they might be a good hire."


What Do You Think?

"Reading resumes is one problem, but what they represent is another. Not all resumes are effective in representing applicants. When I announce job openings, I require a one-page form to be completed that includes personal interests, self-descriptions, and behavioral questions that have a word limit and/or a bullet point format. This also weeds out spammers who blindly mail out resumes."

- Kent Healy | Founder and CEO, The Uncommon Life

Surveys Come First

"Accepting and reading through resumes is a fool's game when you're trying to sort through dozens of applications. Instead, have every job seeker fill out a survey that you create using an online tool like SurveyMonkey. You can quiz them about specific knowledge and requirements required for the role you're looking to fill. You'll also weed out people who don't follow direction quickly."

- Matt Mickiewicz | CEO & Co-Founder, Hired

Judge by the Cover

"When posting a job, require applicants to attach a cover letter explaining why they are the best fit for the job. This allows them to match their skills and experience to your position. Screening cover letters is easy since the first sentence will tell you if you need to read more. Create a short list based on the cover letters, then read their resumes to select the best candidates for interview."

- Kwame Kuadey | CEO & Founder, GiftCardRescue.com

Put Up Your Screen

"We used to get hundreds of resumes for each job opening, until we implemented a screening process. The screening process was a simple survey that asked candidates very specific information about our company that they could find on the web. The survey takes a half hour to complete, weeding out candidates that weren't really interested in putting in the time. Then, start accepting resumes."

- Derek Johnson | CEO/Founder, Tatango

Attention to Detail Is Key!

"In your job posting, instruct them to “paste” resumes only. Any applicants who attach their resume should be deleted and not even looked at. Also, in the job posting, instruct them to include two sentences about how they've exhibited leadership in the past. Any applicant who does not include this in their cover letter should be deleted. You’ll be surprised at how many applicants this weeds out."

Single Page Only, Please

"One of the ways that I like to filter people is to see whether they follow directions. I always ask applicants to send in a one-page resume. You'd be surprised by how many people submit more than one page. I just put those people who don't follow the rules into the recycling bin, and focus on the people who care enough to follow the rules."

- Eric Bahn | Advisor, Webflow

Don't Read Resumes at All!

"People want to work with you because they believe in what you're doing. They'll write emails and show how exactly they could help, and also say exactly why they want to be part of your company. A resume isn't going to do that. Just like top talent attracts top talent, the people I want to work with don't just send a resume. They don't need to!"

- Adam Gilbert | Chief Body Tutor, My Body Tutor

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads  #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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