4 Steps to Rapidly and Easily Sift Through Your Role Applications

When you’re searching for the perfect talent to fill the gaps in your membership organisation, an influx of applications can be both a positive and negative thing.

The more CVs available to assess, the more likely it is that you’ll find the ideal candidate. Of course, sifting through all that information can be both exhausting, and overwhelming.

Over the years the team at membershipbespoke have worked with and supported hundreds of chartered institutes, professional bodies, and trade associations with reviewing their applications, using the following simple steps.


Step 1: Assess the Cover Letter



The presence of a cover letter alone is enough to determine whether the candidate has put time and effort into their application. However, it’s also important to pay attention to the contents of the document. Is the letter tailored to fit the vacancy?

If the person applying for a contractor position outlines their history with similar trade associations you know they’ve done their research. Other evidence of a well-informed candidate includes:

  • An explanation of how your role meets their professional goals.
  • Bullet-pointed list of experience with similar trade bodies.
  • Cover letter language that echoes keywords and terms in the job description.
  • Some level of personality and enthusiasm about working in the role in question.


Step 2: Determine your Criteria

Once you’ve sorted your applications according to the presence of a bespoke cover letter, you can begin to dive deeper into the contents of the CVs.

Use the job descriptions written together with your recruiting partner to determine specifically what you’re looking for in the ideal candidate. This screening process will break down into three sections:

  • Technical competency
  • Experience
  • Soft Skills


Technical Competency



Any position comes with a specific number of must-have skills. One of the easiest ways to sift through your CVs is to sort them by people who possess the qualifications to excel in your role.

Scan the CV searching for any critical education, or qualifications necessary to succeed in your role. If the technical skills in the application aren’t precisely what you were looking for, they may still have merit, which means that you may end up with a “yes,” “no” and “maybe” pile.



The potential of some candidates goes beyond their existing qualifications. Previous experience with similar membership organisations may pave the way for a successful career in yours.

Look for transferable skills and evidence of previous achievements in similar or related roles. Sometimes qualifications can be gained after employment if the candidate has the right experience.


Soft Skills

Though both education and experience are crucial to building a high-performing team for your organisation, CVs must also pass the soft skills test. In todays’ multiconnected society the ability to communicate well and get on with others is key in today’s multigenerational workforce.

Decide which soft skills and attributes are essential for your position. Your job description will help here. Then award points on a scale of 1-5 for each relevant quality. Attention to detail may be a “5”, while good teamwork may be a “3”.


Step 3: Organise the CVs into Separate Screening Piles

Once you have your list of potential applications, you can separate them into three specific piles or folders on your hard drive (old school is better)  based on.

  • Pre-screened / Interview
  • Rejected.
  • Maybe interview

Candidates in the most qualified pile will have all the essential qualities linked to your role, as well as some “desirable” traits too. Alternatively, those in the “maybe” pile will have most of the requirements and a few extra assets.

While organising your CVs, decide if previous experience within a trade body or professional institute is essential. For some positions, experience may be an advantage, but for others, you may want to introduce alternative industry experience so that you have fresh insight and an outside perspective.


Step 4: Sift Through The CVs a Second Time



Finally, sift through your applications again, focusing on the most qualified pile.

Search for any red flags in both the cover letter and the CV. These might include unexplained employment gaps, a lack of consistency in career path, or issues with presentation and grammar.
Other points to look for include:

  • A match in salary expectations.
  • A workable notice period.
  • How the candidate’s expectations match the job description.

By the time you’re finished, you’ll have a highly-relevant selection of potential employees, ready to complete your team.




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