I'm a manager of a team looking to hire a new member. The way we review resumes historically involves emailing them around, gathering comments, and telling the HR guy what to do. Since it's email, though, this easily gets lost, as there's no built-in tracking system.

I'm considering moving to a new system of weekly or biweekly (every other week) meetings, at which the team goes through all resumes that came in since the last meeting. There are a few ways I can see this working:

  • I hand out all resumes along with a grading sheet, and we all just review ourselves. Pros: (1) Forces it to get done on a periodic basis. (2) Everyone's in a room, conversation can happen as needed. Cons: Boring.
  • We review them one by one on a projector. Pros: More discussion, more engaging. Cons: Probably takes longer?
  • (...something else?)

Has anyone done this? Any suggestions as to successful methods?

Please note that I'd like to avoid software solutions.

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    Biweekly meetings? Exactly how long do you plan to keep the position open for? Do you notify the unsuccessful applicants earlier? – Jane S Apr 12 '16 at 14:00
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    What is your hiring process? In my experience, the initial review of resumes is just a shortlisting process to identify the people that look qualified enough to interview. It should require only a quick review, not detailed comments, discussion, and scoring. To me it sounds like you're spending too much effort on this part of the process. – user45590 Apr 12 '16 at 14:10
  • @JaneS - (1) As long as needed to fill the position. (2) We'll notify the applicants after we review their resume. – eykanal Apr 12 '16 at 14:13
  • @dan1111 - Pretty standard; screen resumes, phone screen, interviews. If we have 20 resumes to review, you should be able to sit down for 30-45 minutes and bang through them. At approx. a resume every 1-2 minutes, that's pretty quick, at least from my experience. For me, any faster and you're just skipping stuff. – eykanal Apr 12 '16 at 14:16
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    Not a duplicate, but this answer to an unrelated question seems relevant here. Collect 100 resumes. Toss at least 50-75% by yourself. Have the group cull the remaining 25 to 12 for phone screen. Interview 6, hire 1. – Dan Pichelman Apr 12 '16 at 15:11

We don't do this on a regular basis, but several times a year (after we've been to a job fair to recruit), we have a big pile of resumes and need to process them quickly. We are a team of about ten people; here's what we do to process a hundred or more resumes in an hour.

First (and pre-meeting), if somebody has interacted with the candidate (e.g. talked at the job fair), that person writes notes on the resume and makes an initial assessment on a three-point scale.

Next we gather for company-provided lunch around the stack of (paper) resumes. If most of the resumes have ratings we start with the top category and work down; in your case it sounds like you don't have that, so proceed to the next step.

The pile is divided up roughly evenly among the people at the table. Each person goes through his pile doing an initial screen and producing a rating. We the pass the piles one position around the table and do it again; yes this creates extra work, but it removes the "analysis paralysis" that sometimes happens when people know they're the sole decision-maker. Some of my coworkers, especially more-junior ones, are reluctant to be the single "no" that kicks a candidate out of consideration. If your reviewers are all senior and confident, you could skip the second pass.

Next, the top-rated resumes from this process are distributed to people to do phone screens. The other resumes are kept on hand (sorted into buckets) in case we need to dig farther down into the pile.

We have considered doing this digitally instead of on paper, but as you point out, asynchronous online review can fall to the bottom of the priority list. By providing lunch we create incentive to just get it done, and by gathering together we can have conversations about the unusual or borderline candidates as cases arise.

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Your company's culture really comes into play here. Do you have an electronic meeting tool available or do you only have physically getting into a room in order to do this kind of collaborative review?

Are the people you are reviewing the resumes with equally invested in reviewing the candidates?

Do you have enough volume and reason to review them all that they all make it to the meeting?

Obviously these questions lead to several different options. Generally speaking, here is how I would approach it if the collaborative route was a required method:

  1. Independently self-select those that explicitly do not meet criteria. Bring them into the room so they are available if needed, but after you set the meeting agenda and state how many to go through and what roles are being matched against, explain how many you have held back and why.

  2. Start a spreadsheet, list, or something in a visible and interactive way to allow a stack rank to be created and updated as the meeting goes on. It provides a great record of the outcome and also helps you figure out what the bar is among various options. To the right of the candidate name, have a column for strengths and another for weaknesses. Not every candidate needs an entry, its just a reminder if the discussion emerges something that is exceptionally high or low for later consideration.

  3. Pre-sort the resumes. Either start weakest first or strongest first. Its only your point of view but provides a logical progression. Remember that you lose people's attention or face higher risk of people getting called out of regular meetings the longer you go on. I would start strongest first, and that way if they miss weaker candidates, thats probably "more ok".

  4. Keep your meetings as short as possible. If you want recurring collaboration, every single second needs to come accross as valuable. A rote, boring, run through sheets of paper will get old quickly. The more that you can do to extract highlights, do the pre-work, and make every second count, the more likely you are to retain interest and participation from the group as the weeks roll on.

Finally, if someone in the room has significantly more power or a greater share in making the decision, consider a tiered process. Do the collaborative session to get down to a recommendation of "above" and "below" the line to recommend moving forward. Approach that person with recommendations already set by the group for them to review/endorse rather than to unbalance the collaboration in the room.

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  • Good answer, thanks. I should have put more context. The people in reviewing The resumes are the other members of the team. We typically have every team member resume for deciding whether to go forward. With a team of four people, this isnt so hard. – eykanal Apr 12 '16 at 17:38

Stick to electronic communication but do not make them as email attachment. If your organization is using MS exchange as your email infrastructure, you can send TASK items to people and expedite an answer by the specified date. If you are not on exchange platform, I am quite sure you can do the same thing with online todo list apps with task delegation functionality.

Putting people in a room to review resumes, might be a novel idea for one or two meetings but after that it will become hum-drum and people will start bringing their laptops to do work while they are in the meeting room or will pull out the tablets or cell phones to do god knows what. Meetings are the biggest killer of productivity in my opinion. It gives the management the warm-n-fuzzy feeling that something is taking place, but effectiveness of those things is next to nil, most of the time. A mundane task like this in a meeting is unfathomable to me. But of course, to each, his own. Right ?

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    Responses like this depress me. (1) There is such thing as a well-run meeting, where people talk and ideas are shared. Slack/Hipchat/whatever is not the same as a face-to-face discussion. (2) You're suggesting that the solution to people ignoring email is to... send an email. I know what tasks are in outlook, I personally use them extensively, but almost no one else I know does. I'm skeptical that this will work. – eykanal Apr 12 '16 at 14:14
  • To be perfectly honest, anything that turns into a routine, will NOT work in the long term. Take it from my almost 30 years f industry experience. More routine tasks you give me is equal to telling me to work less and lose my enthusiasm. If a meeting is longer than 15 minutes, it is never effective. And what you are suggesting, i.e. resume review in a room with 5-6 people is not going to be 15 minutes. It will be a waste of time, regardless if it makes you feel sad or not. Especially if these people in meeting are techies, even 15 minutes is stretching it. – MelBurslan Apr 12 '16 at 14:18
  • Did you consider a token award for people who chose the best candidates for the month/year etc ? Doesn't have to be something substantial. A $20 Starbucks gift card or a prime parking spot like the one given to the employee of the month etc ? – MelBurslan Apr 12 '16 at 14:20
  • This would be a terrible way to engage with nearly everyone I have ever worked with. – enderland Apr 12 '16 at 16:34
  • @enderland You are a moderator. Terrible is a bit harsh. How about ineffective? – paparazzo Apr 13 '16 at 18:09

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