What is Resume Screening?
Resume screening is the process of reviewing a resume to determine if the candidate is qualified for the position. The decision of whether the candidate is qualified or not is based on education, experience, skills, and any other relevant information that may appear on the resume.
The Importance of Having a Defined Resume-Screening Process
Resume screening is a crucial yet challenging part of the hiring process. Even with automated processes, it is still the most time-consuming part of recruiting. On average, a recruiter spends 23 hours screening resumes for a single hire. Having a defined process will:
- Save you time
- Make the process more efficient and more accurate
- Find unqualified applicants quickly
- Result in a shortlist of candidates to interview who are aligned to the qualifications you’re looking for
This process will help you achieve your goal: to hire the most qualified and best-fitting applicant for the position.
How are resumes screened? This question has been asked by many recruiters and HR personnel. Before going into individual steps, it is important to understand the two ways resumes are screened: manual and automated.
Both are effective in different ways. Which to use depends on individual and company circumstances. Overall, many professionals agree that automated screening is better for lower positions and manual screening is better for higher positions. As an example, K&N and Applebee’s use automated processes for hiring hourly positions, but use manual screening when selecting managers or headquarters staff.
Manual Resume Screening
Manual resume screening is when a recruiter reviews each individual resume on their own, without the help of any automated systems or processing.
Pros of Manual Resume Screening
Manual screening allows the recruiter to account for nuances or synonyms of keywords. It also allows them to evaluate qualities like common sense, interpersonal skills, etc. Similarly, if an application has a nontraditional format that automatic screening might not read, a recruiter will be able to give it the same chance as other applications.
Cons of Manual Resume Screening
Manual screening requires the recruiter to go through each application to sort out the 88% of applicants that are unqualified. Manual screening also creates opportunities for human failure, such as biases, tiredness, forgetfulness, etc.
Automated Resume Screening
In automated resume screening, recruiters utilize a software tool—usually one with artificial intelligence, or AI—to scan the resumes based on predetermined criteria.
Pros of Automated Resume Screening
Using an automated system speeds up the process and weeds out unqualified applicants. Automated resume screening also removes any human biases that the recruiter might initially place on an application. The candidates will be narrowed down by important key words and predetermined qualifications, quickly finding those who fit the criteria.
Cons of Automated Resume Screening
An automated system has no way to measure the intangibles, like the level of writing or design of the resume. It usually does not identify qualified military veterans. Applicants might also try to game the system, putting in key words solely because they were in the job description.
Automated resume screening systems can also be expensive! While automated resume screenings can help, they are not and may never be a complete solution to the hiring process.
How to Screen a Resume Manually
When you screen a resume manually, it is your job to make sure you understand the position and are looking for the right criteria. You should be able to pick out qualities that are good and areas that are red flags, ultimately finding the best-fitting and most qualified candidate.
1. Know the Job Description
Before you start reviewing resumes, make sure you know what you want in an employee. Is that job description up to date? Do you understand its requirements?
2. Develop Criteria
After you are familiar with the job description, develop your criteria. What experience does the position require? Are there necessary credentials, like licenses or educational degrees? What are some of the skills you’d like to see in the employee? Imagine a person filling that position, and ask yourself what are some things you would like this employee to do and achieve?
3. Review Resumes
Start reviewing the resumes. One suggested method is using an evaluation grid. It is easy to create one in a spreadsheet or on paper.
First, list the resumes numerically or alphabetically.
Second, list the qualifications to consider across the x-axis. Organize it with the required credentials towards the front, followed by the desired skills. Other areas to consider could be education, previous employment, length of previous jobs, etc.
As you review the resumes, fill it in horizontally according to each applicant. This process allows for an easy, organized way to come back and look at each application.
4. Look for Red Flags
When you are reviewing resumes, look for potential red flags such as grammar mistakes, unprofessionalism, errors in facts, and job hopping.
While red flags might not always disqualify someone from the process, they alert you to issues to address during interviews.
Lastly, group the applicants into Yes, Maybe, and No categories. If they don’t meet the required qualifications, they are a No. If they meet those but don’t have the desired skills, they could be a Maybe. If they meet everything, then they’d be a Yes.
Continue to rank the applicants in the Maybe and Yes groups. Prioritize those who are customized for the job. That means their skills, work history and achievements match the job description and your desired criteria.
Tip: if you have a lot of people in the Yes category, a phone screening can help you narrow it down by giving you an idea of their interpersonal and oral communication skills.
Tools to Help Automate Your Resume Screening
The automated screening process still requires some manual steps. To be able to use the tools, you need to know the job and develop the criteria so it is important to still follow steps one and two of the manual process. Depending on which tools you use, you may want to incorporate parts of the other steps as well. Here are some to consider:
1. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) with a Search Function
Applicant tracking tools (ATS) often have a built-in search function. They shortlist candidates by matching search terms with their resumes. You can also search for candidates who match your own keywords by manually using Boolean search terms.
2. Resume Enricher
A resume enricher uses the information from the resume to search for the online footprint of the applicants. It can scrape social media profiles, online portfolios, and even search previous jobs to give you a better understanding of the candidate.
3. Machine-Learning-Based Screener
An intelligence resume screener uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn about employees. Specifically through machine learning (a subset of AI), it will create a list of qualified candidates based on skills, experience, and qualifications.
4. Outsource Completely to Other Companies
There are HR screening companies you can contract with, such as Start International, HireArt and TalentReef. They all provide different levels and kinds of services, so explore several to find the best fit for your company.
Legal Considerations for Resume Screening
According to federal law, you cannot disqualify a job applicant based on race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, disability, or region. One way to ensure equal opportunities and to overcome unconscious bias in resume screening would be to blind screen the resumes. Before screening, determine what information is non-essential and remove it from resumes.