This is a straightforward four-step approach to successfully screening executive résumés to find the best candidates for important jobs.

When filling an executive-level opening, I recommend that the hiring manager conduct all steps themselves rather than delegating to H.R. because this allows for serendipity, discovery, and creative hiring above and beyond the job spec.

Screening Executive Résumés

1. Reporting

The first step basically is comparing candidate’s career progression with the job spec looking for:

  • Categories
  • Companies
  • Functions
  • Responsibilities
  • Career advancement

Has the candidate been in the right places in the right functions at the right levels to potentially have learned what’s necessary to succeed in the job in your company?

2. Analyzing

If the reporting step indicates that a candidate possibly is qualified, then the reviewer can use the specifics provided in the bulleted portions of résumés to determine:

Are the successes relevant to the hiring company?

If the catalysts of the candidate’s positive progression are directly important to the hiring company’s needs, then s/he should be selected for serious consideration.

If only a few of the bragging points are applicable, it’s usually best to pass on the applicant regardless of overall quality.

3. Monitoring

The first two steps are basically a historical review looking at the agreed-to hiring requirements. If you’ve ignored my earlier advice for the hiring manager to do the entire process, this is the point that the selection-making responsibility must move from the reviewer/screener to the hiring manager who needs to quickly review the first two steps for the remaining candidates and focus on:

  • Understanding what the person is currently doing, and
  • Discovering useful incremental skills beyond the job spec.

What are their current relevant knowledge and capabilities?

4. Predicting

There should be several candidates who appear to be able to do an excellent job.

Now the decision who should be interviewed should be based on who seems to be able to:

  • Do the job best?
  • Fit the culture best?
    • While difficult to tell from résumés alone, there will be many hints in most executive résumés to make an educated decision about fit. I always ask myself: Whom do I want to work with late at night during the budget season.

While the initial concept for these four steps came at a “Smart Cities” symposium, they will help the hiring process develop “smart companies” with better employees.