5 Recruitment Shortlisting Strategies To Speed Up Time-To-Hire

When the average job posting receives 250 resumes and up to 88% of candidates who apply are unqualified, recruitment shortlisting strategies are more important than ever.

Despite advances in recruiting software and technology, screening resumes and shortlisting candidates are still the most time-consuming parts of recruitment.

That’s why I created this list of the 5 best recruitment shortlisting strategies to help speed up your time-to-hire.

1. Using keywords as a recruitment shortlisting strategy

One of the classic recruitment shortlisting strategies is finding qualified candidates using keywords. A good Applicant Tracking System (ATS) should allow you to screen candidates using keywords based on desired skills and experience. You can also search for candidates using keywords on sites such as LinkedIn.

LinkedIn keyword search

However, candidates have long understood how keyword matching works and have even been instructed to “keyword stuff” their resumes, which creates the potential for wasted time on false positives.

Keyword stuffing also has the potential for allowing the best candidates, who may be more honest on their resumes, to slip through the cracks.

2. Using Boolean search as a recruitment shortlisting strategy

Another one of the classic recruitment shortlisting strategies is using Boolean search, which allows you to combine keywords using AND, NOT, and OR to create your shortlisting criteria.

There are many guides on Boolean search tips and tricks, whether it’s using a specific site like LinkedIn or using a search engine like Google.

For example:

site:instagram.com (sales OR account management OR business development) (san francisco OR Bay Area)

Will search for people with Instagram accounts who are in sales or account management or business development located in San Francisco or the Bay Area.

3. Using an algorithm as a recruitment shortlisting strategy

One of the newer recruitment shortlisting strategies is to use an algorithm to shortlist candidates.

The early results are intriguing: among 300,000 hires, employees who were picked by an algorithm stayed on the job 8% longer and were just as productive as employees picked by human recruiters.

Why does an algorithm outperform a human when it comes to shortlisting candidates? One of the reasons is because the algorithm is immune to human biases such as being influenced by the candidate’s name or the school they attended.

This can be a relatively simple recruitment shortlisting strategy if you use software that shortlists candidates for you based on an algorithm.

4. Using a pre-hire assessment as a recruitment shortlisting strategy

Recent innovations in people analytics software have allowed pre-hire assessments to become cheap and efficient enough to be used as a recruitment shortlisting strategy.

Pre-hire assessments enables you to shortlist candidates based on desired personality traits, job skills and knowledge, and other abilities.  

As long as the pre-hire assessment software you use allows you to assess your entire candidate pool, using a pre-hire assessment can be one of the most objective and accurate strategies for shortlisting candidates.

As a bonus, using a pre-hire assessment as a recruitment shortlisting strategy helps increase workplace diversity. A study of more than 150 companies found that those who used a pre-hire assessment in their recruitment have more racially diverse workforces.

5. Using shortlisting software as a recruitment shortlisting strategy

One of the newest recruitment shortlisting strategies is using shortlisting software. Shortlisting software lives inside your ATS and uses people analytics to automate resume pre-screening and candidate shortlisting.

Shortlisting software analyzes your existing resume database to learn the skills, experience, and personality of successful employees for the role you’re recruiting for and creates a shortlisting profile that it uses to match applicants.

In general, shortlisting software is most effective for high volume recruitment such as customer service or retail positions.

The takeaways for recruitment shortlisting strategies

Finding effective recruitment shortlisting strategies is essential because it’s estimated to take 23 hours to shortlist candidates for a single hire.

Innovations in software have added valuable tools for shortlisting candidates. These recruitment shortlisting strategies and tools include:

Recruitment shortlisting strategies

  1. Using keywords
  2. Using Boolean search
  3. Using an algorithm
  4. Using a pre-hire assessment
  5. Using shortlisting software

These strategies can be used in combination with each other to drastically reduce time-to-hire.

The most effective strategy (or strategies) for you depends on factors such as the role you’re recruiting for, the volume of applicants, and the number of hires you need to fill.   

Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min