Resume Screening — The Complete Guide For Recruiters

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Posted by: David Garcia June 02, 2021

When a new position opens up, hundreds of people will apply for the coveted spot. Hours can fly by while recruiting, just sorting resumes into piles of “no,” “yes,” and “maybe.”

It is up to recruiters to sift through a high volume of resumes just to find a candidate with proper qualifications worth interviewing.

Even experienced recruiters say the hardest part of the job is resume screening. In fact, on average, 75% of all candidates are unqualified for a position! But once you learn how to streamline the resume screening process, you will save time, have better candidates, and more successful recruitment.

This article will break down everything you need to know about resume screening and increase your chances of recruiting only the best talent.

What Is Resume Screening?

Screening resumes are basically like the recruiting version of playing matchmaker. Recruiters or hiring managers match qualifications to job requirements. The end goal is to create a shortlist of those candidates who seem perfectly suited for the open position.

Recruiters analyze education, experience, certifications, achievements, awards, and more when determining who moves on to the next stage of the hiring process. Screening resumes is an essential part of the recruitment process and the only way to learn about a candidate before they come in for an interview.

How To Screen Resumes

Most recruiters use an application checklist to start separating candidates into various groups, like “must-sees” and “potential-interview.”

The checklist is a quick way to scan resumes for keywords. Some candidates will use buzzwords that don’t mean anything just to try and stand out. For example, if ‘synergy’ is used more than once on a resume, that’s a sign it is going in the “no” pile. But if they see a candidate have an advanced degree in the required field, they will have a higher chance of an interview.

The recruitment process also takes into account deliverables. A fast resume screening by a great recruiter will search for numbers and markers of progress, e.g. ‘made 100 videos gathering over 1,000,000 views within 3 three months.’ Candidates should highlight real tangible accomplishments to stand out from the crowd.

Sometimes two or more positions are available, and candidates may be more qualified for a job they did not apply for. A good recruitment practice and resume screening exercise is to call in a candidate for potential interest in other positions.

Those are some quick tips to screen resumes, but everyone has their own unique resume screening process. If you’re looking for new ideas, follow these top strategies for successful recruitment:

Have High Standards From the Start

If you come across typos and clear errors while resume screening, toss it before moving on. This is a clear indicator the applicant lacks attention to detail. A resume that seems copied and pasted is a sign that the candidate is not actually eager for the open position. It can also be a warning of job-hopping or throwing resumes into the wind and hoping one sticks.

There should be no difficulty in reading a resume. It should plainly and concisely break down previous experience and qualifications. Do not waste your time screening resumes that were made without care or effort.

Create a Clear Job Posting

The more specific you can be when breaking down the roles and responsibilities of the position, the more likely you are to attract the best candidates. List all skills, software knowledge, and years of experience necessary in the job description to narrow the volume of candidates.

Rewarding recruitment starts on your end, and a clear list of necessities will give applicants a better time deciding if it is worth their time to apply.

Request Cover Letters and References

The more barriers you put in place before an application is allowed to be submitted, the fewer people will apply. Those who do apply will have spent time and effort writing about themselves and reaching out to past colleagues.

You can trust listed qualifications when other professionals have backed them up.

Check For Employment Gaps

If you spot more than a month between jobs while screening resumes, ask the candidate to explain that period of unemployment. Some people have legitimate reasons for gaps, like military service or family leave. But while hiring, you need to be sure your candidate will commit to a long-term position.

Resumes Are About Work

Resumes sometimes document hobbies, volunteer positions, and vacations. A professional resume should only list qualifications, not interests. During resume screening, you should reject all non-professional resumes that do not have any real job experience.

Prioritize a Cultural Fit

Even candidates with top qualifications on their resumes can have limited success in person. Always value communication skills, leadership, and teamwork in your search.

If a candidate cannot work well with others, you may find yourself posting another listing and screening resumes again sooner than you would hope.

Value Quality Over Quantity

More jobs on a resume do not mean better, more varied experience. Most likely, this is a sign of job-hopping, especially if the candidate seems to change positions every few months.

A candidate who has committed several years at past companies has clearly valued long-term growth within a business.

What Are The Challenges Recruiters Face While Screening Resumes?

For years resume screening has been a long and tedious manual task usually just done by a single hiring manager or recruiter. This, of course, leads to many challenges in the recruiting hunt for great talent.

Let’s take a look at the notorious difficulties involved in resume screening.


The average number of candidates for a new position is 250! Let’s say you spend 10 minutes looking at every single resume in detail, which comes out to over 41 hours of resume screening. Anyone would start to burn out after reading so many applications.

What makes this even more difficult is that over three-quarters of candidates will be irrelevant or not have proper qualifications.

Recruiter’s Personal Knowledge

A recruiter is hired to screen resumes and bring in the best candidates, but they are often not experts on the open position. Detailed jobs in the IT department can be more difficult to screen than general management.

A recruiter could bring in the wrong candidates just from not fully understanding the requirements and qualifications of the job.

Settling Too Quickly

Sometimes a recruiter will find what seems like the perfect resume near the top of the pile and call them and hope they work out. Often this leaves out other candidates who might be more well-suited but happen to land further down.

This is one of the cons of accepting and screening resumes on a rolling basis versus waiting for applications to be submitted before resume screening.

Time to Hire

Qualified candidates are going to have many offers. The average time to hire is 30 days, but your favorite pick could be stolen by another company that is faster in offering a position.

Shortening the time between resume screening and job offers will only benefit you and the company. Get ahead of the curve and hire outstanding applicants before it is too late.

Supporting Resume Screening — The Solutions

The best and most trusted way to facilitate resume screening is by using a recruiting Applicant Tracking System. An ATS system allows you to parse through a high volume of candidates in record time.

An ATS will create individual and standardized profiles of all candidates, which you can quickly browse. Plus, you can enter your preferred parameters to parse out only those who meet certain keywords and qualifications. For example, you can set up an ATS to send automatic rejections to everyone with fewer than 3 years of experience in the required field.

Don’t let great candidates slip away, use an ATS to save stand-out resumes for future hiring opportunities.

An ATS also comes with mobile and cloud-storage capabilities, which both you and your favorite candidates can easily navigate. Never worry about losing someone in a mess of paper and make recruiting a breeze when all the information you need is safely stored and organized in the cloud.

Conclusion — Reach Out to ScoutLogic

The experts at ScoutLogic are here to make the hiring process easier and smoother. Once you’ve completed a thorough resume screening and are ready to take on the next steps, ScoutLogic will take over.

We provide background checks on your candidates of whatever information you need, from reference checks to criminal history and even drug testing. We tailor our services to your HR department’s needs to take pressure off you during the stressful hiring process.

ScoutLogic speeds up your background checks to have more time to study resumes from top candidates.

Connect with us today and get your free assessment now!

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