How to screen resumes effectively

  • 26-09-18
  • David Landau

When you’re faced with a mountain of CVs to review, it’s easy for the differences to blur together and turn it into an overwhelming task. There’s plenty of advice out there for writing the perfect CV, but as a manager, where do you start? After all, when screening candidates, it’s not just about reducing the pile of resumes but comparing candidates objectively so that you’re able to put together an excellent shortlist for the interview stage.

As recruitment specialists in the Sydney Accounting market, we’ve seen thousands of CVs in our time. You can always skip this part of the process by partnering with a specialist Accounting Recruitment Agency but if you decide to go it alone, here’s our advice on what to look for.


Before starting out, know what to look for in an Accounting CV. Make a list of requirements necessary for the position, outlining the minimum experience and skills that you want in a candidate. Knowing what to focus on during the initial scan will help you to successfully assess and compare the CVs. Be familiar with the trigger words to identify applicants that deserve a closer look.


Depending on the seniority of the position, you’re going to have certain expectations when it comes to sector-specific experience. While it’s important to keep these at the forefront (and sometimes there is no other choice), try to keep an open mind. There are a lot of Accounting candidates that want to expand their skill sets, and industry knowledge and grow into new roles, so hiring for potential should also be considered, especially if you’re struggling to find the perfect fit.


Knowing what to look for in a CV includes the ability to pinpoint Accounting candidates with the appropriate skills. Spend some time thinking about the keywords that best identify your ideal candidate, and scan the document for those relevant to the job title and description.


Top applicants will customise their resume, with a specific job as the end goal. A well-tailored CV will reflect their experience and skills in direct relation to the job advertisement. You’ll easily be able to tell which candidates have put in substantial thought, so if any CVs appear templated and generic, you might want to think twice. The same goes when vague statements are used in resumes and cover letters. There are plenty of people looking for “a challenging opportunity from which to launch a fulfilling career”, however, you want to find someone who is specific in their goals.


Look out for candidates with proven ability to get the job done. Do they have a history of delivering on specific objectives? Have they produced any definitive results? It’s easy to 'fluff' up a CV with what an employer wants to hear, but hard facts are trickier to fabricate. A solid candidate will be able to back up their statements with facts thereby increasing their credibility.

Keep an eye out for resumes that have detailed data like percentages, dollars and other signs of quantitative or financial impact.  If you find a candidate who has proven their value in the past (and has the numbers to prove it), you’re on to a winner.

Don’t forget the basics…

It doesn’t have to be a visual masterpiece – you’re not hiring a graphic designer – but is the formatting clear and consistent? CVs can often be a good indicator of how a candidate approaches their work. Be wary of resumes that appear unorganised or thrown together without thought. Attention to detail is important in the Accounting profession and a worthy applicant will take time to be certain their document is free of typos, spelling errors or grammatical mistakes.


Reviewing Accounting CVs can be a time-consuming process but knowing what to look for and being aware of any red flags will help you streamline your efforts. Remember to remain focused on what you’re looking for, and stay objective in your decision-making, and your applications will be whittled down to an excellent interview shortlist in no time. If you’d like to discuss the characteristics of a good CV in more detail, or for support in recruiting top candidates in the Sydney Accounting market, speak to the team at Richard Lloyd.

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David Landau
Co-founder and Director