When you’re trying to decide whether or not to bring on a candidate into your company, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Where do you even start? Well, if you have a big stack of resumes in front of you and you need to start narrowing down the choices, we’ve got the perfect guide to help you along. Keep reading to learn what steps should be part of your screening process for a new hire, from start to finish.

Resume screening

A candidate’s resume is often the first impression you’ll get from an applicant. Resumes aren’t always the best indicator of skills, but they can still help you understand an applicant better from an experience standpoint.

Check the resume for the required skills that you listed in the job description on the job posting site, previous work background, formatting, and attention to detail. Pay special attention that the resume lacks any spelling or grammatical mistakes, as this can be a sign that the applicant may drop the ball when it comes to small details.

Another key component you should pay attention to is whether or not the candidate’s resume actually fits with the job requirements. Many job candidates make the mistake of sending out the same resume for every single position when in reality, the resume should be tweaked slightly to reflect different roles. Keep that in mind when you’re reviewing resumes.

Cover letter screening

Next, you will want to read through the applicant’s cover letter, making sure to pay attention to organization, clarity, and style. In the job description, you should ask exactly what you’re looking for in a cover letter. In turn, the applicant’s cover letter should show that they followed directions, that it is an  adequate length, shows a professional personality, and is tailored for the job in question.

If a job candidate has obviously relied on a template for their cover letter, that’s a clear indication the candidate hasn’t thought thoroughly enough about the position.

On the other hand, if an applicant has spent time perfecting their cover letter and their letter reads well, it’s a signal that he or she is serious about the job.

Applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems are a smart way to monitor all of your candidates in one place. This type of software can automate much of the hiring process for you, like running through a list of resumes on your behalf to parse out the most promising applicants. ATS is especially helpful for larger companies who get a huge number of applications.

Formal background check

Besides Googling a candidate, which might be important to verify publicly available information, conducting criminal background checks for employment is also a crucial step. A criminal background check provides you with the following information:

  • Information from local and state jurisdictions
  • Criminal data from 43 states
  • Results from FBI’s Most Wanted List, the National Sex Offender Public Registry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and US. Office of Foreign Assets Control

These background checks are incredibly thorough and search through over 370 million national and state criminal records. And, the results are trustworthy and accurate since the background check utilizes sophisticated record-matching logic. For you, that means fewer false positive matches.

Reference checks

Reference checks allow a recruiter or business owner to get more insight into a candidate’s job performance and personality. References can help full in the gaps after an interview or even help out an applicant who maybe isn’t great at interviewing. Candidates’ value is often whittled down to what’s on a paper in front of the interview, but references can help provide a more thorough, comprehensive understanding of a potential worker’s true character.

Takeaways: Screening for the best job applicant, one resume at a time

When you’re hiring a new team member for your business, it can be a little overwhelming sorting through massive piles of applications. However, if you strategize your screening of candidates, you can easily streamline the hiring process. First, start by evaluating candidate resumes and cover letters to determine whether or not applicants are a good fit based on their initial paperwork. Then, move into more formal screening like background checks and reference checks. With these tools, you’ll hire an amazing employee who will help your company grow.