Candidate resume screening

A Complete Guide to Resume Screening

Published on December 1st, 2022


A Complete Guide to Resume Screening

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 posesses 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 relavent 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 screenign 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 relavant to the job requirements or what the HR manager of recruiter is looking for. This way the tool weeds out resumes that dont have the necessary requirements and only selects the ones that are valid. What if I could stuff my resume with all of these words or phrases they’re looking for? The tool understands it and these tools can be tweaked by the recruiter according to its relavancy or times a word or phrase occurs in each resume. So theres 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, especailly 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 harbour 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 paricular subject. Here are a few things to keep in mind about resume screening

  1. Job Description Start with knowing the job description before you start reviewing resumes. Make sure you know exactly what you want in an employee. Look at the relevant description that is up-to-date. Look at what are the requirements for the positions that are open at your firm.
  2. Develop Criteria After you familiarise yourself with the job description, develop criteria for inclusion and exclusion. What does the potential candidate need to have in terms of skills, education level and experience? Are there necessary credentials, like license or work permit? List them all down and prioritise them as well. Look at the necessary criteria which you definitely seek and list them down separately from the criteria which are preferred and can give the candidate few brownie points. What are some soft skills or personality traits you wish the candidate has? Think about leadership skills, communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, some roles require a person who can stay calm in stressful situations like a editors or newspapers who are constantly faced with breaking news and dilemmas of how to break a certain type of a story to public with utmost sensitivity. What about the desired technical abilities that the applicant must possess? Should the applicant know MSExcel or tally or Adobe Photoshop? What are few things you do not want the candidate to have like gaps in work history? Try to run your exclusion criteria through someone else to assure that your personal biases did not lead to prejudiced hiring.
  3. Screen Resumes Phew! After all the background work start with reviewing resumes that you have recieved. Create a rubrics or an evaluation grid to sort and categorise the vast amount of information you will have to come across in this stage. It is easy to create an evaluation grip on a spreadsheet or you can even go old school and do it on paper. You can list the resumes numerically or alphabetically and fill the first column with it. For the following columns organize the required qualifications or credentials, followed by the desired or preferred skills. Then start putting down other aspects like current job title, length of previous job, education and so on. Now, as you assess the resumes, fill in each category horizontally corresponding to each applicant. This is a relatively easy process which allows for an organized and tidy referencing system to come back again if needed.
  4. Look for Red Flags Hiring is really a tedious and expensive process especailly if it is not organized and done in the right way. There barely any room for trial and error. This is why it is one of the most important and significant steps in resume screening. Red flags are not same as exclusion criteria. Exclusion criteria is particular to a role and regards to skills or credentials which might not fit the needs of the role you are screening resumes for. Whereas red flags are clear no no. They are signs that indicate that the candidate might be a fraud and needs to be disqualified. You cannot hold that resume for other positions or pass it on for future openings. Some potential red flags to watch out for are hidden criminal records,, evidence of unprofessional behaviour or language, or even forgery of skills, recommendation forms and so many more. They might make obvious errors like fake their education qualification. For instance, maybe the salary package you quoted in the Job advertisement was pretty attractive and so now you have a downpour of applicants. In this, you happened to come across someone with an extreamely fancy educational background, only for you to run a background check on this induvidual and find out the certificate was not only fake but it was bribed and then made only to land this for job… Heartbreaking is’nt it?If Let’s take another case: You have recived a resume that shows you that the candidate has changed more than 4 jobs in the past year. Now this is questionable and you might mark this off as ‘Stability issue’ But, when you run a background check, you find out that this induvidual was looking for a particular work culture and your sources validate the same. And coincidently, the candidate applied for your job advertisement in the hopes of finding a job and being a cultural fit. These are two ways the system of Red Flags work. It can either benefit you by NOT hiring a bad apple or it can be a case of ‘What is useless to some might be usefull to you.’
  5. Categorize After carefully screening the resumes for red flags, the next step in resume screening is to group the applicants into Yes, Maybe, and No categories. If they don’t meet the required qualifications or have clearly indicated multiple red flags, they are a No. Those that do not meet the preferred or desired skills, but have the required necessary credentials and qualifications they could be put under the Maybe category. If they meet all the inclusion criteria – the must have’s and the coulds have’s, then they would definitely be a Yes. Once this is done, continue further to rank the applicants in the Yes as well as the Maybe groups. Line up those who are tailored for the job. That means their skills, achievements, credentials and work history matches the job description and your desired criteria. If you have a lot of people in the Yes category, as it is usually the case with certain high in demand roles, a telephonic screening can help you further filter out candidates by giving you an idea of their interpersonal and communication skills. Make sure your screening process is in accordance with your country’s legal and universal ethical standards. You cannot disqualify a job applicant based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability (unless it causes some real hinderance) or age. One way to ensure unbiased and impartial resume screening would be to blind screen the resumes. Before you start screening resumes, determine what information is non-essential and remove it from resumes, for instance, the region or nation of origin, their caste etc..
  6. Run reference checks One of the most crucial steps to resuming screening is confirming that the details on the resume is valid. Run through the reference and recommendation as it helps you confirm if the details on the resume are trustworthy and reliable. It gives you an opportunity to learn about some of the intangible skills and abilities of the candidate such as their integrity, work ethics, punctuality, ability to take feedback. You will learn about their strengths and weaknesses that they may or may not be aware of themselves. But then, if you reach out the candidates’ previous employers, take what you hear with a pinch of salt as they might deliberately sabotage the candidate’s future due to their own selfish and obvious reasons.
  7. Save the Resumes or a little something called ‘Talent Rediscovery’ This is a process where you go back to a set of resumes you previous thought could be a good fit but maybe due to lack of skills or other factors, you had to cancel them. You go back to these resumes in the hopes of, either they have upskilled themseleves or that they are now available for the position. Its alwasy good to save resumes as this helps you reduce the time taken to hire and the time takent to fill up a position. On events like High-volume Hiring, this little trick will come of great help. Hence, having a talent pool to fetch resumes from can prove to be very beneficial.
  8. Review your process Needless to say, it is very essential to review your resume screening process. If the candidates you screened were hired, and they did not stick around for long, investigate what went wrong. Brainstorm and come up with a few factors that could have led to such outcomes. This process helps inform future course of action and helps save cost-per-hire and training costs. Challenges recruiters face while resume screening

Unconscious Bias As mentioned above, ascertaining that bias-free and unprejudiced hiring is taking place and no applicant is rejected for their identity, discard irrelevant information from their resume. Try to steer clear of their social media activity on their personal pages. It is not uncommon that many candidates with female-sounding names are rejected for managerial or leadership roles or that candidates with male-sounding names are rejected for nursing roles due to gender-based stereotypes prevalent across cultures and countries. Keeping an open mind and being aware of your own biases and personal preferences or stereotypes will really help create a bias-free hiring process. Volume Cost per hire per role increases exponentially when you have received resumes in huge numbers. You might have posted about the opening for the position on job portals, your website, and social media handles. Resumes are pouring in from all these channels this is where you can use ATSs to screen using keywords or knockout questions. The quality of hire and time to fill are influenced by your resume screening process so make sure to not let the overwhelming volume of resumes knock you down. Here is a blog on Hire Volume Hiring and how you can handle it like a pro!

You can attach a pre-assessment section in the application form. This will help you short list the candidates who will apply and, also help you assess their level of commitment to stick through the entire hiring process. Make sure to keep it relevant to the requirements of the position or the role. Quickly! Go over everything you learned here! Know your job description and requirements clearly. Use ATS or other software to search for keywords and swiftly navigate through crushing amount of resumes Keep an eye out for red flags Use Personalized Screening Tests or pre-assessments along with resume submissions to reduce the number of shortlisted candidates. Run background checks and reference checks Be aware of your unconscious biases and prejudices Save good resumes for future reference Review your resume screening process


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