Once you have sourced your CVs, unless it has been a very targeted search or specific head hunting campaign, then you need to vet them and select which candidates you are going to invite in for an interview. If you have written a good job description then this should be fairly simple, just a logical extension of that. If not then it is still possible to rescue the situation.
Keep it simple and then it will be efficient.
The format and length of a CV tell you something about the candidate; If it is too long then they probably can’t summarise or be concise and if it is badly presented then their written communication skills are probably not great.
Next there are the job titles and the dates: If the job titles don’t resonate with you then they probably don’t have the right kind of experience and if either the dates have big gaps or show very short term assignments then that’s usually not a good sign either.
Once you’ve applied these two common sense filters then you need to be a little more scientific, both to make sure that you are being objective and to allow you to give feedback.
Look back to the job spec and write down the 5 most important things you want in your recruit. Draw up a quick table with the names and these factors. Score each candidate out of 10 for each factor. If some are very important you can then double weight them, if some are show stoppers i.e. a qualification, it can be a simple 0 or 10. Then see how many of the applicants scored more than 70%. If this is a short enough list then interview all of them, if not then take the top 3-4. If none score that highly then I recommend starting again so as not to waste your time. Relook at the job spec, salary, your sourcing methods and change something.
This table also allows you to give structured feedback, which is good for your brand and avoids any unpleasantness. Take the time to reply to each applicant. Use a template for the bulk of the email but insert the appropriate area where they have fallen short. If they are one of the candidates who was eliminated during the first cut then you can simply state that “there were candidates with more suitable experience.”
This can all seem a bit of a blunt instrument with which to dissect someone’s career and assess their suitability, but if selling themselves on a CV isn’t their forte then a good candidate will seek professional help. Another safety net is the fact that good candidates will make the effort to argue their case if they feel they have been unfairly rejected. We’re all fallible, if you have rejected a good candidate who wants the job, and done it in a professional manner, they will recognise that it is their CV that has let them down and will contact you again to put the record straight. Anyone with the confidence and communication skills to do this is probably worth considering.
Keeping it simple and structured allows you to sift CVs quickly, efficiently and fairly. The above method also helps you begin to plan your interviews, highlighting where you might want to probe the different candidates, but that’s another topic.