How to Effectively Screen Resumes

Kevin Schmidt, LPC
4 min readFeb 26, 2021


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Screening and evaluating resumes can be time-consuming, since resumes can vary widely in formatting and content. There are certain steps you can take to make this process easier and help you choose an effective shortlist of candidates.

Using the job description and list of qualifications

When screening resumes, you’ll want to have your job description and a list of qualifications that candidates must have in front of you. As you look through the resumes, this will help you to eliminate candidates whose resumes do not show these qualifications. The more resumes you’ve received for a job, the more exacting your list of qualifications can be.

Overall neatness and consistency

For each resume, look for overall neatness, lack of typos, and consistent formatting. This can show attention to detail and a certain level of professionalism, traits that you want your employees to possess. Remember to take note of the trends and timing in work, educational and volunteer experiences of your applicants. There should be consistency in their resume. Any discrepancies or gaps between experiences should definitely be inquired into further.

Chronological and functional resumes

Resumes generally fall into two categories: the “chronological” resume and the “functional” resume. The chronological resume lists past jobs in order of dates, and the functional resume lists important functions and achievements that the candidate has accomplished but does not connect them to the jobs listed on their resume. It can be harder for you to identify gaps in employment and identify the true nature and scope of the candidate’s experience with a functional resume. Be sure that any gaps in work history are identified and are not an issue.

Look for accomplishments

Also important is to look for resumes that show accomplishments instead of responsibilities. Accomplishments show what was actually achieved by the candidate, such as “increased company sales by 50%.” Responsibilities show what was done on the job, such as “prepared budgets and project plans.” Resumes that emphasize accomplishments can show that the person is an achiever and understands how day-to-day tasks affect the bottom line.

Detecting a career path

When reviewing the resume, look for signs of the applicant’s career path. Promotions and advancement show a good focus and a certain stability. For people starting out in the careers, look for extracurricular activities and the wording they use to explain their job positions.

Also, just because a resume has a few gaps may not mean that the person wouldn’t be a good candidate. Keep the list of qualifications you are looking for in mind, and see how each resume demonstrates these skill as you narrow your search for a shortlist of candidates.

8 Additional Tips for Resume Screening

Ultimately, you are looking at the content provided on the resume, such as past experience, skills and abilities. But there are also a few subtleties that you should be aware of whenever reading a resume:

  1. Look for gaps — Has the applicant been absent from the workforce for a long period of time? Have there been significant gaps between jobs? This doesn’t necessarily mean the individual is not qualified, however may require extra training or time to readapt to a more structured work environment. Gaps in employment history may also reveal behavioural traits that otherwise could have gone unnoticed
  2. Look closely at extreme employment patterns — Be weary of the resume that lists several jobs and companies within a short period of time. Jumping from job to job may suggest the individual lacks loyalty towards their employer. Likewise, the applicant who has remained stagnant in the same position without having gained additional responsibilities suggests a lack of motivation and initiative
  3. Don’t just look at experience — Never automatically dismiss an applicant based on a lack of work experience. Perhaps the individual has a tourism-based educational background, or has volunteered in an endeavor that involves social interaction with others. Remember, the ability to interact effectively with different individuals of varying needs is essential to the success of any tourism-based operation
  4. Extracurricular activities — Consider any extracurricular activities listed on the resume, especially if the applicant is active in team-related activities that help promote a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. A list of hobbies and interests also suggests the potential employee has successfully created a balance of personal and professional well-being
  5. Pay close attention to the small details — Has the applicant taken the care of providing you with a professional resume that lists the pertinent skills related to the job, and does not contain any errors in spelling or grammar? Also, look for those cover letters that have been customized according to the specific needs of the position and your business. These types of resumes and cover letters send the message that the potential employee is sincerely interested in the job you have posted or advertised by taking the extra step in demonstrating their personal investment of time
  6. Stick to the requirements of the position — Never determine someone’s suitability based on personal information that may be listed on the resume, such as age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, cultural background or religious affiliation. Personal attributes such as these have no bearing on whether the applicant is qualified for the job and basing employment on this type of information is illegal
  7. Never hurry through the screening process — Take the time to carefully review each resume that you’ve received. Speed reading may result in your having missed important information on the applicant’s relevant background and skills
  8. Carefully read work experiences — Note the detail given in descriptions of job responsibilities or achievements as it may result in weeding the right person out. General descriptions of work experience may indicate false work experience. You will more readily catch exaggerated claims such as someone with six months of experience claiming they manage an entire restaurant, supervise the staff and purchase all inventory



Kevin Schmidt, LPC

Kevin Schmidt is a passionate safety professional, who strives to end all workplace injuries.