Candidate resume screening

A Complete Guide to Resume Screening: Definition, Checklist, Tools

Published on December 1st, 2022


The hiring process can get chaotic and overwhelming to any amateur or even an experienced HR manager or recruiter! It is extremely time consuming and effortful to pick the right person for the right position at the right time. Having a well-defined resume screening process makes the job accurate and efficient. Let’s take a look at how we can up our screening game in this blog! 

What is resume screening?

This is the entire process of reviewing a resume to determine if the candidate is qualified and competent for the position or no! 

It is one of the most important slices of the larger pre-employment screening process. The decision of whether the applicant is qualified is based on relevant information like education, experience, skills. An effective screening process helps you find the perfect fit for the organization.  Along with that, you are also sure that the candidate possesses the right kind of skills and talents that directly contribute the overall growth and goal of the organization. With an effective screening process in place, you not only achieve the goal of hiring the most qualified and best-fitting applicant, but you are also bringing a reliable new asset onboard.

How are resumes screened? 

There are two ways to screen resume - manual and automated. 

When a recruiter reviews each individual resume on their own it is called manual resume screening. It is accomplished without any assistance from an automated system or processing methods. This is certainly one of the most cumbersome ways of screening a resume. This can also fatigue the recruiter and in turn cause them to miss out on vital information about the candidate’s skills and talents and where they fit in your organization. 

Even though both are effective ways of resume screening, many professionals come to an agreement that automated screening is efficient for lower positions and manual screening is well suited for higher positions. 

Manual screening allows the recruiter to consider various nuances or synonyms of keywords which automated systems cannot do as proficiently.  Through Manual screening, you as a recruiter can evaluate your candidate's interpersonal skills and how well they communicate the knowledge they have about a particular subject. This is especially beneficial when a candidate is maybe introverted by having excellent skills in a particular field. 

However, Manual screening can not always be reliable as it can give room for human failures,  biases, and forgetfulness.

Automated Resume Screening is an efficient and much more viable process. This tool helps you push out a clean pile of resumes who have the relevant skills you are looking for. This cuts down the cumbersome screening process and the time taken to hire drastically. It helps weed out unqualified and incompetent applicants. 

A recent survey done by LinkedIn shows that, 67% HR managers and recruiter from around the world prefer automated processes in their screening and hiring regime as this is known to save time and effort in finding the right fit! 

So how does this work?

The tool is configured to catch those words and phrases that are relevant to the job requirements or what the HR manager of recruiter is looking for. This way the tool weeds out resumes that don't have the necessary requirements and only selects the ones that are valid. 

What if candidates stuff their resumes with all of these words or phrases recruiters looking for? 

The tool understands it and these tools can be tweaked by the recruiter according to its relevancy or times a word or phrase occurs in each resume. So there's no way you can cheat. Sorry!

Is it unethical? No! Think of it this way, what if you faked it till you made it through all the rounds of the interview, especially one where there are hardly any technical rounds with barely any skill based testing? 

It’s almost the same thing isn't it, be it virtual or in real…

Automated resume screening help eliminate human biases and prejudices that the recruiter might harbor on an application.  However, with an automated system there is no way to measure the intangible qualities like the level and quality of writing or design in  the resume. And for this, you have skill assessments and talent assessment tools that help you test the candidates skills and knowledge about a particular subject. Here you check the difference between manual and automated resume screening. 

AspectAutomatic Resume ScreeningManual Resume Screening
ProcessAutomated using softwareManual review by humans
SpeedVery fast, can process a large volume of resumes in seconds or minutesSlower, as it requires individual review and assessment of each resume
ConsistencyHighly consistent in applying predefined criteria and keywordsProne to variations and potential bias among different reviewers
Bias ReductionEffective at reducing unconscious bias as it follows programmed criteriaSusceptible to unconscious bias, although efforts can be made to minimize it
Keyword MatchingRelies on keyword matching and predefined rules to identify qualified candidatesRelies on the judgment of human reviewers to assess qualifications
ScalabilityScalable for handling a large number of applications, making it suitable for high-volume recruitmentLimited scalability as it can become time-consuming for large applicant pools
Initial ScreeningOften used for initial screening to shortlist candidatesTypically used for in-depth assessment of shortlisted candidates
Resource RequirementRequires minimal human involvement, saving time and resourcesDemands significant human effort, which can be resource-intensive
Error ReductionProne to false positives or negatives if keywords are not well-definedHuman reviewers can sometimes miss or misinterpret key qualifications
CustomizationCan be customized to specific job requirements and tailored to organizational needsAllows for subjective judgments based on reviewer experience
Feedback and LearningLimited capacity for learning and improvement over timeOffers opportunities for continuous feedback and refinement of the screening process
Complexity HandlingSuitable for handling complex screening criteria involving multiple factorsBetter suited for simpler, more straightforward screening criteria

Here are a few things to you need to know about resume screening 

Resume Screening Process: 

In the fast-paced world of recruitment, the resume screening process serves as the initial filter to identify the best-fit candidates for a job. Here's a quick overview of the key steps involved:

1. Resume Collection:

  • To kickstart the process, gather resumes from various channels. This includes job boards teeming with potential candidates, career websites, and referrals from within your network. The wider the net, the more diverse the talent pool.

2. ATS Usage:

  • An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is your trusty sidekick. It helps streamline the influx of resumes, making organization a breeze. You can search, filter, and manage candidate profiles effortlessly, saving valuable time.

3. Initial Screening:

  • Time to roll up your sleeves! In this phase, you'll review each resume to ensure it aligns with the basic qualifications and job requirements. Consider this your first pass, eliminating those who don't quite match the criteria.

4. Shortlisting:

  • With the initial screening complete, it's time to compile your dream team. Create a shortlist of candidates who closely align with the job criteria. These are the individuals who have passed the first hurdle and deserve further consideration.

5. Communication with Candidates:

  • Candidates on the shortlist deserve personalized attention. Reach out to them with clear and engaging communications. This may include setting up interviews, sending assessment tasks, or requesting additional information. Make them feel valued and respected.

Mastering the resume screening process is a crucial skill in talent acquisition. It ensures that only the most promising candidates progress to the next stages of the hiring journey, saving both time and resources. So, gear up, embrace the process, and unearth the gems hidden within those resumes.

Key Criteria for Effective Resume Screening

identifying the perfect candidate from a pile of resumes is no small feat. It requires a discerning eye and a keen understanding of the key criteria that matter most. Here are three critical factors to consider when screening resumes:

1. Relevant Skills and Experience: When you begin reviewing resumes, the first thing to look for is whether candidates possess the relevant skills and experience required for the job. Pay attention to qualifications, certifications, and work experiences that directly relate to the position. This ensures that candidates have a solid foundation to excel in their roles from day one.

2. Job-Specific Keywords: In today's digital age, keywords play a pivotal role in resume screening, especially if you're using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Identify industry-specific keywords that candidates should possess based on the job description. The presence of these keywords indicates a candidate's familiarity with the industry's terminology and concepts.

3. Culture Fit: While skills and experience are essential, they aren't the whole picture. Assess whether candidates' values align with your company culture. A candidate who fits seamlessly into your organization's culture is more likely to thrive and contribute positively to the team dynamics.

Remember, effective resume screening is about finding the right balance between qualifications, industry knowledge, and cultural alignment. By defining and applying these key criteria, you can streamline your hiring process and identify candidates who not only meet the job requirements but also align with your organization's ethos.

Resume Screening Checklist 

To ensure a systematic and thorough resume screening process, follow this concise checklist. It's your secret weapon to identify the perfect candidate for your organization:

Key Qualifications and Skills: Check if the candidate possesses the essential qualifications and skills required for the job.

Relevant Work Experience: Assess whether the candidate's work experience aligns with the job's responsibilities and expectations.

Education and Certifications: Verify the candidate's educational background and any relevant certifications or training.

Achievements and Accomplishments: Look for concrete achievements and accomplishments that showcase the candidate's contributions.

Culture Fit Indicators: Examine if there are indicators of a cultural fit between the candidate and your organization.

Job-Hopping: Eliminate resumes with excessive job-hopping, as it may indicate a lack of commitment.

Formatting and Readability: Ensure that the resume is well-organized, easy to read, and free from clutter.

Grammar and Spelling: Check for grammatical and spelling errors, as attention to detail is crucial.

LinkedIn Profile: Review the candidate's LinkedIn profile for additional insights into their professional background.

Referrals and Recommendations: Take note of any referrals or recommendations provided, as they can offer valuable insights.

By following this checklist, you can streamline your resume screening process, save time, and pinpoint the best-fit candidates. Remember, thorough screening is the first step toward building a high-performing team. 

Resume Screening ChecklistTick Box
Check for key qualifications and skills.[ ]
Assess relevant work experience.[ ]
Verify education and certifications.[ ]
Evaluate achievements and accomplishments.[ ]
Look for culture fit indicators.[ ]
Eliminate resumes with excessive job-hopping.[ ]
Ensure proper formatting and readability.[ ]
Check for grammatical and spelling errors.[ ]
Review the candidate's LinkedIn profile.[ ]
Consider referrals and recommendations.[ ]

Simply tick the boxes as you complete each step of the resume screening process to ensure a systematic and thorough evaluation of candidates.

Avoiding Unconscious Bias in Resume Screening

In the world of resume screening, maintaining objectivity is paramount. Unconscious bias can unintentionally influence hiring decisions, leading to missed opportunities for both employers and candidates. Here are two effective strategies to help you avoid unconscious bias during the resume screening process:

1. Blind Screening:

Blind screening involves reviewing resumes without access to sensitive candidate information such as their name, gender, or other personal details that are not directly related to qualifications. By removing these identifying factors, you're better able to focus solely on the candidate's skills, experience, and qualifications.

Blind screening promotes fairness by ensuring that candidates are evaluated based on their merits rather than factors unrelated to their ability to perform the job. It's a simple yet powerful technique that can significantly reduce bias in the early stages of recruitment.

2. Diverse Review Panels:

Another effective approach to minimizing bias in resume screening is to involve a diverse group of reviewers in the process. Diverse review panels bring together individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This diversity can help identify and mitigate biases that a single reviewer might overlook.

When multiple people evaluate resumes, it becomes less likely for any one person's unconscious biases to dominate the decision-making process. Diverse review panels promote objectivity and fairness while ensuring that a broader range of perspectives is considered when assessing candidates.

Incorporating blind screening and diverse review panels into your resume screening process can help your organization make more objective and fair hiring decisions. By doing so, you create a level playing field where candidates are evaluated solely on their qualifications and potential, increasing the likelihood of finding the best fit for your team and promoting diversity and inclusion in your workforce.

Remember, the goal of resume screening is to identify the most qualified candidates who align with your organization's needs and values. By addressing unconscious bias, you can make this process more equitable and effective for everyone involved.

Resume Screening and AI-based talent sourcing tool

Keyword Matching and Parsing:

  • AI tools can parse and analyze resumes to extract relevant information, including skills, qualifications, and experience.
  • They use natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to identify and match keywords from job descriptions to candidates' resumes, ensuring that the resumes are a good fit for the job.

Candidate Ranking:

  • AI-powered algorithms rank candidates based on their match to the job requirements, presenting the most qualified candidates at the top of the list.
  • This eliminates the need for HR professionals to manually sift through resumes to identify suitable candidates.

Customized Screening Criteria:

  • AI tools can be configured to consider specific criteria, qualifications, and skills that are critical for a particular job.
  • They allow organizations to set custom screening rules, ensuring that only candidates meeting these criteria are presented.

Automated Shortlisting:

  • AI-based tools can automatically shortlist candidates who meet predefined qualifications, reducing the time and effort required for manual shortlisting.

Resume Scoring:

  • AI algorithms assign scores to resumes based on their relevance to the job, making it easier to prioritize candidates for further evaluation.
  • HR professionals can focus on candidates with higher scores, streamlining the selection process.

Candidate Recommendations:

  • AI-driven systems can provide recommendations for similar candidates based on the profiles of previously successful hires.
  • This feature assists recruiters in identifying potential candidates they might have overlooked.

Predictive Analytics:

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Pankaj Deshmukh

Pankaj Deshmukh is a digital marketing professional working with HireQuotient. He strongly believes in the never-ending process of learning and stays updated with the latest trends in order to produce valuable content.

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