Guest post by Aditya Sharma.
The job market has whipsawed from record-low unemployment to near Depression-era joblessness in just a few months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the shuttering of vast swaths of economic activity. Business owners and managers who are still hiring find themselves swamped with qualified candidates for any open role.
Screening resumes, whether manually or using automation, is of course a vital step in narrowing the field to the most qualified job seekers. Various criteria come into play while screening resumes: not just work experience and education but also certifications, keywords, even the use of specific verbs.
Recruiters need to determine which applicants’ qualifications best match the job requirements before scheduling interviews. Resume screening makes sure that the shortlisted applicants have the background and knowledge required to excel in the role.
If you’re hiring, here are five tips that can help you screen resumes more productively and effectively.
The Three Steps of Resume Screening
Screening starts with matching resumes to the preferred and minimum qualifications for a position. These qualifications need to be further related to the candidate’s past job performances.
In the screening process, you will likely use a combination of manual processes and HR software to judge a candidate’s education, work experience, personality traits, skills and knowledge, and competencies.
Step 1: Screening based on minimum qualifications
The required “minimum qualifications” listed in the job description are the first bar you set for candidates. Anyone who doesn’t clear it gets eliminated from further consideration.
The minimum qualification could range from a minimum number of years of experience in a specific role to holding an advanced degree. It depends on what job you are hiring for.
Once you’ve excluded candidates not suitable for the job, further screen the candidates who meet the minimum qualification criteria.
Step 2: Screening based on preferred qualifications
You can further refine your list with candidates who have the qualifications that you would prefer in a model employee. These are not strictly mandatory but would make a candidate’s case stronger.
For example, a candidate who previously worked for a direct competitor would be preferred over one with only marginally relevant industry experience. Preferred qualifications can range from specific technical skills to someone with a master’s degree in an industry-specific field.
Shortlist the candidates who meet both the minimum and preferred qualifications before moving onto the third step of the resume screening process.
Step 3: Shortlisting candidates based on the minimum and preferred qualifications
Select the candidates you’ll invite for a phone screen. Keep your recruiting needs in mind while selecting candidates for the shortlist.
If you are doing bulk hiring for a basic role, you can shortlist almost all the candidates that meet the minimum qualifications. For more selective roles, only candidates who meet both the minimum and preferred qualifications should be interviewed.
The number of candidates that should be shortlisted is based on your recruitment conversion rates.
Based on recruiting data from Jobvite, the average recruitment conversion rates are:
- Application to Interview conversion rate: 12%
- Interview to offer conversion rate: 17%
- Offers accepted conversion rate: 89% (steady over the years)
Based on this data. if you interview 12 candidates from a pool of 100, only two of them will likely receive an offer, and only one candidate will accept the offer.
Be aware of the common challenges of the resume screening process
The most common challenges of the screening process are volume and predicting the quality of hire.
The biggest challenge, however, remains the sheer volume of applications a job opening is bound to receive in the current environment. This significantly increases your time-to-hire. According to statistics published by Glassdoor, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes on average. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job.
This means a recruiter has to screen 250 resumes to find one hire.
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help solve this volume problem. It organizes your screening process by automating it through keyword matches or knockout questions.
Use tech to automate your resume screening process
Gone are the days of manually poring over resumes to find that one perfect hire. New technology being called artificial intelligence (AI) for recruitment can accelerate this process. This software integrates with your ATS and completely automate your resume screening process.
AI can not only help select candidates based on specified job qualifications, but also find better candidates for you by learning from your past hiring decisions.
It will inspect your existing resume database and learn about the candidates who became successful employees and those who didn’t, based on their job performance and tenure. It will then apply this knowledge to screen resumes.
It can even analyze their public social media profiles to enrich their applications (which may sound a bit Orwellian, but can potentially help prevent a bad hire).
Put shortlisted candidates to an online test
Most applicants have now figured out that using certain keywords and some other tricks will get them easily shortlisted. Administering a simple online skill test before interviewing prospective candidates can help you weed out under-qualified candidates.
You can simply share a link through email and ask shortlisted candidates to complete the test within a limited timeframe. There are basic skill assessment tests available for many positions. The results will help narrow your choices so you can prioritize desirable candidates to interview.
Elements to look for when manually screening resumes
Pay attention to these details to make sure that you only select the best candidates:
- Clear contact details including phone number, email address, and location.
- Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as these shows attention to detail.
- Relevant job experience, education, and skills.
- Consistency and verifiable facts.
Watch out for red flags like several job changes in a short period, employment gaps, and missing information.
Recruiting a new employee, particularly for a higher-level role, is a significant investment. Carefully consider the skills and qualities you need in a role before beginning the process. Determine what you need from a new hire and use the techniques here to find the ideal candidate.
- Establish minimum and preferred qualifications on which to screen and shortlist candidates.
- Recognize common screening challenges and find solutions to overcome them.
- Use intelligent screening software that automates the resume screening process.
- Give online tests to candidates before selecting them for the interview round.
- Look for common red flags.
On a quest to help professionals across the world land their dream jobs, Aditya Sharma lives and breathes. Hiration — an AI-powered online resume builder and platform to help job-seekers find their way in the treacherous job market — where he’s a Co-Founder and the unofficial CPO (Chief Problem-solving Officer). He likes to code away his days and nights when he’s not busy disrupting the career space.
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