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Hiring Secrets Revealed – Making the Shortlist

Big data and complex algorithms now play a big role in assisting in the task of identifying as objectively as possible the best candidates, and talent acquisition leaders (a.k.a. HR recruiters) are feeling increased pressure to find better methods of candidate sourcing, screening, and shortlisting. Indeed, left up to just one individual to make an important hiring decision leaves the process open to human frailties such as physical appearance, “schmooze factor” and other subjective perceptions.

With the increased ability to distribute job postings, the volume of submitted resumes places an additional burden on HR to filter for best candidates and develop a shortlist out the thousands of resumes streaming in over the Internet. Shortlisting is the process of identifying the candidates from the applicant pool who best meet the required and desired criteria. According to these numbers, for every 100 candidates sourced, you need to shortlist 12 of them to interview, two of them will receive an offer, and one candidate will accept for you to get one successful hire.

Big data and the introduction of algorithms have been developed to assist in the task of identifying as objectively as possible the best candidates based on clearly defined criteria. For job candidates, this means that there must be a clear understanding of the job requirements and the necessity of not “fudging” certain requirements to better match the job description. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has proven to be an effective tool, and a survey of users showed 94% felt that an ATS improved their hiring. However, how it improved the process was not revealed. Was the improvement in the candidates hired or the speed of developing a shortlist? In any case, applicants should now consider that the first filter will be dependent on the responses in the application. If there are any doubts about the requirements, it makes sense to call the HR department to clarify before taking it for granted the requirements are standard for similar jobs. Moreover, there will be subjective questions on most applications, and certain keywords have become more important for the automated process. As a result, we offer up a checklist to help applicants make it past the machines and reach the shortlist.

1) Research the organization.

There is an abundance of online resources to help the applicant research not only what the company does, who their competitors are and what the major challenges of the company may be, but also the company 10K and website are sources to look for more subjective information such as the company philosophy, mission, and vision.

2) Research the position and requirements.

To make sure you meet them and note that requirement where you have special abilities and experience. Also, keep in mind that the person who wrote up the job posting may not fully understand the true nature of the job. Calling the HR department to clarify questions not only helps define the job description but also demonstrates professional due diligence. Try to develop an insight into the company by reading articles and reviews (including employee reviews) to help develop your ability to address those subjective questions that seek to delve deeper into your less tangible qualifications. Having a deeper understanding of the company can be very important for the shortlist interview.

3) Be truthful with yourself.

You might have qualifications that you consider to be similar but not exactly a match with what has been specified in the posting. If you feel that your experience or training meets the stated requirement, place your comments in the cover letter.

4) Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

When filling out applications, there is a tendency to use abbreviations and incomplete sentences. Also, spelling can be inaccurate, and the algorithm may check for those errors.

5) Double and triple check the application before sending it in.

Make sure your contact information is correct, and no questions are left unanswered.

6) Ask for an email response that the application was received.


Nation's Executive Search Group is sought out by leaders in Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing Services and Decision Analytics for mission critical sales and marketing leadership talent.

For more information, email or call Rob at (410) 827-0180,


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