Screening resumes is estimated to take up to 23 hours for just one hire. That means resume screening is still the most time-consuming part of recruiting.

When a job opening receives 250 resumes on average and 75% to 88% of them are unqualified, it’s no wonder the majority of talent acquisition leaders still find the hardest part of recruitment is screening the right candidates from a large applicant pool.

52 percent of talent acquisition leaders say the hardest part of recruiting is resume screening

Compounding the problem, a recent survey of talent acquisition leaders found that 56% will increase their hiring volume next year, but 66% of recruiting teams will either stay the same size or shrink.

In 2017, “doing more with less” will depend on a recruiter’s ability to figure out how and where to effectively automate their workflow.

Advances in recruitment technology have added automation to candidate sourcing with recruitment marketing and to candidate interviewing with video interviews. However, technology to address the biggest pain point in recruiting—screening resumes—has been frustratingly absent until recently.

The time spent on screening resumes often takes up the largest portion of time-to-fill and with today’s competitive candidate-driven talent market, top talent only stays on the market for 10 days on average.

To help you solve the biggest bottleneck in recruiting, we created this how-to guide on resume screening and how technology is changing how recruiters screen candidates.

Resume Screening: A How-To Guide For Recruiters – Table of Contents

  • Section 1: What is resume screening?
  • Section 2: How to conduct resume screening
    • Step 1: Screening resumes based on minimum qualifications
    • Step 2: Screening resumes based on preferred qualifications
    • Step 3: Shortlisting candidates based on minimum and preferred qualifications
  • Section 3: The challenges of resume screening
    • Volume
    • Quality of hire
  • Section 4: The future of resume screening
    • AI for resume screening
  • Section 5: A summary of resume screening

Section 1: What is resume screening?

Resume screening is the process of determining whether a candidate is qualified for a role based his or her education, experience, and other information captured on their resume.

In a nutshell, it’s a form of pattern matching between a job’s requirements and the qualifications of a candidate based on their resume.

The goal of screening resumes is to decide whether to move a candidate forward – usually to an interview – or to reject them.

Section 2: How to conduct resume screening

Resume screening often involve a three-step process based on minimum qualifications and preferred qualifications. Both types of qualifications should be related to on-the-job performance and are ideally captured in the job description.

These qualifications can include:

  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills and Knowledge
  • Personality Traits
  • CompetenciesResume screening qualifications

Step 1: Screening resumes based on minimum qualifications

Minimum qualifications are the mandatory qualifications that a candidate must meet to be able to do the job. A simple example of a minimum qualification is whether the candidate is legally able to work in the country.

These types of qualifications are often considered knockouts because either the candidate has it and can move forward or they don’t and gets screened out of the process.

Candidates that meet the minimum qualifications move onto the preferred qualifications step of resume screening.

Step 2: Screening resumes based on preferred qualifications

Preferred qualifications are non-mandatory characteristics that would make someone a stronger candidate for the job. A common example of a preferred qualification is whether the candidate has prior related work experience.  

These types of qualifications are often called nice-to-haves and are generally more qualitative than minimum qualifications (e.g., strong communication skills).

Candidates that meet both the minimum and preferred qualifications move onto the shortlisting step of resume screening.

Step 3: Shortlisting candidates based on minimum and preferred qualifications

Deciding which screened candidates gets shortlisted for the interview phase depends on your recruiting needs.

For high-volume recruitment, generally all candidates that meet the minimum qualifications move forward to the interview process. For low volume recruitment, generally only the top few candidates that meet both the minimum and preferred qualifications receives an interview.

You can determine the length of your candidate shortlist using your recruitment conversion rates.

Based on data from recruiters, average recruitment conversion rates are:

  • 12% for application to interview
  • 17% for interview to offer
  • 89% for offer to acceptance

So for every 100 candidates you screen, you need to shortlist 12 of them to interview, two of them will receive an offer, and one candidate will accept to result in one successful hire.

The important thing to remember is that your screening qualification process is applied consistently and objectively across all resumes.

Section 2: The challenges of resume screening

According to a recent survey of talent acquisition leaders, the most important recruiting KPI is quality of hire followed by time to fill.resume screening recruiting KPIsBoth quality of hire and time to fill are influenced by your resume screening process.

Volume

By far the biggest challenge of resume screening is volume.

The volume of resumes received is usually one of the biggest factors that increases time to fill. An average job opening receives 250 resumes and up to 88% of them are considered unqualified. This means a recruiter can spend up to 23 hours screening resumes for a single hire.

The usual solution for the volume problem is using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS is must-have software for recruitment and talent acquisition departments, especially for high volume recruitment, because it organizes all the resumes received for an open role. An ATS often allows some measure of automating the resume screening process through keyword matches or knockout questions.

However, an ATS has some well known weaknesses. For example, an ATS can screen in a candidate as a false positive based on keyword stuffing or screen out a candidate as a false negative because he or she doesn’t meet the keyword filters but has strong qualifications otherwise.

Quality of hire

60% of talent acquisition leaders’ top recruiting KPI is quality of hire:

  • 50% measure quality of hire through new hires’ performance
  • 49% measure quality of hire through turnover
  • 43% measure quality of hire through hiring manager satisfaction

While an ATS may be effective for reducing resume volume, traditional ATS software isn’t designed to measure quality of hire. Because an ATS doesn’t have a way to learn which candidates who went on to become successful and unsuccessful employees, it can’t improve its screening function.

An ATS’s limited functionality means recruiters need different software tools help them achieve their most important KPIs including quality of hire.

Section 4: The future resume screening

Designed to meet the needs of recruiters that current technology can’t solve, a new class of recruiting technology called AI for recruitment has arrived.

AI for recruiting is an emerging category of HR technology designed to reduce — or even remove — low-value, administrative activities like manually screening resumes. The best AI for recruiting is designed to integrate seamlessly with your current recruiting stack so it doesn’t disrupt your workflow nor the candidate workflow.

Industry experts predict this type of automation technology will transform the recruiting function.

Any area of recruiting where distinct inputs and outputs occur – like screening, sourcing and assessments – will largely become automated.

-Katrina Kibben, RecruitingDaily

AI for resume screening

AI for resume screening is designed to integrate with an ATS to automate the resume screening process. This is a prime example of how AI is changing the recruiter role by automating a low-value, repetitive task that most recruiters feel is a waste of their time and abilities.

This type of intelligent screening software uses AI to learn the qualifications of the job based on the job description and learn what good candidates looks like based on your historical hiring decisions.

The AI analyzes your existing resume database to learn which candidates moved on to become successful and unsuccessful employees based on their performance and tenure.

The software then applies the knowledge it learned about employees’ experience, skills, and other qualifications to automatically screen, rank, and grade new candidates from A to D or Red, Yellow, and Green.

Intelligent screening software can also enrich candidates’ resumes by using public data sources about their prior employers as well as their public social media profiles.

Automated resume screening helps solve the two major challenges with resume screening: volume and quality of hire.

Volume

AI for resume screening can handle massive volumes of data. In fact, AI requires a lot of data in order to make accurate recommendations about which candidates to move forward. This means intelligent screening software is most valuable for high-volume recruitment such as retail sales or customer service roles.

The time you save screening resumes can be used in much more valuable ways, whether it’s sourcing, engaging, or interviewing candidates to help determine how well they’ll fit in the job and company culture.  

Quality of hire

Automated resume screening increases quality of hire by reducing false positives because candidates can’t trick the ATS and reducing false negatives because candidates with good qualifications no longer slip through the keyword filters.

Intelligent screening software learns to predict quality of hire because it’s able to analyze your historical hiring decisions as well as learn from your current hiring decisions.

Companies that have adopted AI for recruiting have seen their performance increase by 20% and their turnover decrease by 35%.

Benefits of resume screening technology

Section 4: A summary of resume screening

  1. Definition: Resume screening is the process of determining whether a candidate is qualified for a role based his or her education, experience, and other information captured on their resume.
  2. How to conduct resume screening: First, screen resumes based on the job’s minimum qualifications. Second, screen resumes based on the job’s preferred qualifications. Third, screen resumes based on the shortlist of candidates you want to move onto the interview phase.
  3. The challenges of resume screening: The high volume of resumes received – up to 88% of them being unqualified – greatly increases time to fill. Recruiters face increased pressure to show quality of hire but lack tools to link the resume screening process to post-hire metrics.
  4. The future of resume screening: Intelligent screening software automates resume screening using AI that learns from historical hiring decisions to improve quality of hire and reduce employee turnover.

Resume Screening: A How-To Guide For Recruiters

Remember to bookmark this post and keep it as a resource to answer all of your resume screening questions!

Want to Learn More? Here Are Our Top Resume Screening Tools and Resources:

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A Resume Screening Checklist For Identifying The Best Candidates

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