Four Ways To Help Your Resume Pass The HR Screen-Out Phase

25 Jan

Article Title: Four Ways To Help Your Resume Pass The HR Screen-Out Phase
Author Byline: Cathy Eng, CARW, Owner of Resume Rocketeer, Inc.
Author Website:

In most cases, before your resume even gets to a hiring manager’s desk, it is passed through a screen-out process that is designed to immediately eliminate candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements. This makes it a lot more efficient for companies to fill positions, but I can also leave qualified candidates out in the cold if their resumes do not display those clearly defined requirements.

If you are wondering whether your resume will pass the screen-out phase, simply examine the previous feedback you have received after submitting your resume. Are you getting rejection letters or no response at all? Odds are it is because you are either not right for the job or your resume doesn’t clearly show that you are right for it.

With so many resumes to sort through, HR staffers must have a short list of questions that will help them immediately weed out most of those resumes, only leaving the most qualified to move on in the hiring process. Here are several of the top questions they ask and how you can answer “YES!” to all of them:

1. Is this resume focused to the required job? This question simply examines the candidate’s clear display of skills, accomplishments, and focuses as they apply to the job. For example, if you are applying for an accounting job, your resume should immediately establish your accounting credentials and career accomplishments relating to accounting. Grab their attention right away, and don’t expect them to dig around because they likely won’t!

2. Does the candidate meet “the basics”? By that, I mean do you possess the number of years of experience required? Do you have the degree required? Do you know the specific software or business principles required for the job? Don’t underestimate the importance of shouting out these simple requirements on your resume! If HR can’t find them on there, you’re out.

3. Are the employment dates clear and complete? If you are missing dates, or your dates aren’t in a solid reverse chronological order, you are sending HR the message that you have something to hide (or lack attention to detail). Be clear about the dates you were at each position and do your best to justify gaps in employment. What did you do with your time between jobs? Do you go back to school? Volunteer? Take on part-time work? Let them know you were busy!

4. Are the requested documents present? In addition to a resume, if the job description asks for a college transcript, letter of recommendation, writing samples, salary history, or reference list, you’d better ensure they have what they want. If not, you are communicating that you can’t follow instructions and have no follow-through. They are not likely to call you requesting the documents and your resume will soon be in the “no” pile.

Simply stating on your resume that you are a dedicated and goal-focused person will not win you an interview, and presenting overly-general statements like that make the resume unfocused, making it difficult for HR to answer their most basic question: Do you meet the minimum qualifications to move on to the next phase in the hiring process? By asking yourself the above questions, you can begin to think like a hiring manager and ensure you make the cut.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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