How to shortlist CVs quickly and effectively

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As the title of this blog got your attention, you probably have been through this scenario: You have promoted a position to attract potential candidates, received a thick deck of CVs, the deadline to apply for the position passed, and now it’s time to find a quick, efficient, and accurate way to do candidate shortlisting, the most challenging and time-consuming step in the recruitment process.

A survey directed to talent acquisition leaders concluded that 46% struggle with attracting strong candidates, and 52% said the most difficult part of recruitment was identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool. You are not alone!

The heroes you are looking for to fit the positions are there but unfortunately won’t walk into your office with a cape, you should find them. The aim of this article is to help you solve this bottleneck. Here are 6 steps we suggest to shortlist CVs quickly and effectively:

1. Decide on the essential and desirable criteria for each position

Know the criteria that you definitely want and the criteria that you would like to see. Start by rejecting all the applications that are missing essential criteria. Now as you have excluded many CVs, take the ones left and score each candidate based on how many of the desirable criteria they meet.

2. Consider the CV boosters

Some candidates put in some extra work to make sure they stand out from the crowd. If you see an CV of an applicant who wrote for the student newsletter at the university, joined the student union, took a leading role in a club or a youth-led organization, been on a cultural exchange, participated in voluntary work, or learned a new skill, consider these factors. People who go the extra mile can be highly committed to the career path they have chosen.

3. Create a tracking sheet

Set up a sheet that contains the names of candidates, their contact info, the points they scored in previous steps, and any outstanding factors in their CVs, add a column for notes such as the location, current employer, required salary, gaps in the career path, number of times the candidate switched jobs, etc.

4. Categorize the applications

Add another column to the tracking sheet where you sort the candidates in 3 categories: Eligible, ineligible, and maybe.

5. Decide on how many candidates you are willing to interview for each position

Based on that, you can start taking the eligible CVs. You may wish to look through the “maybe” ones as well.

6. Use telephone interviews to minimize the effort

If your shortlist for interview is considerably large, a telephone interview may be the best option for a first stage interview as it is less time consuming for both the hiring manager and the candidate.

With your shortlist complete, it’s good to notify the candidates who did not make the cut. You should give the reason they were unsuccessful but should not be too specific.

Now as you made it through the shortlisting, all you have to do is invite your shortlisted candidates to interview, go find the heroes!


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