Resume screening is one of the most fundamental steps in the hiring process. It’s integral to helping hiring managers find the best candidates for each role and to invite those candidates to interview.
However, resume screening is a highly time-consuming process. Hiring managers often have to sift through hundreds of resumes - both from unqualified applicants and applicants who could be a great fit for the role. Ideal reports that 52% of hiring managers say that the most difficult part of their job is screening the best candidates from a huge applicant pool.
How do you ensure you’re making the right hiring decisions? How do you separate good fits from poor fits? What are reliable criteria for deciding who does and who doesn’t get invited to an interview? How do you ensure that you don’t mistakenly miss out on great talent? How do you speed up the process?
There are many questions you need to ensure you answer throughout the resume screening process to ensure you find the right person for the role that you are hiring for. In this post, we explore how to ace this key part of the hiring process. Let’s jump in.
- What is resume screening?
- The standard resume screening process for making a great hire
- Begin with a detailed job description
- Red flags to look out for
- 1. No cover letter
- 2. Unexplained gaps in employment
- 3. Failure to personalize an application
- 4. Poor spelling and grammar
- How to simplify and enhance the resume screening process
What is resume screening?
Resume screening (also known as candidate screening) is the process of assessing a job applicant’s skills, education, personality traits, and experience to see if they are a good fit for a particular job.
The resume screening process follows after a job listing has been posted and comes before an interview. It’s all about deciding who has the right background to fulfill the demands of the job role.
The standard resume screening process for making a great hire
There are three important elements to check for when screening resumes.
The first step in effectively screening CVs is to ensure that your selected pool of candidates for interview meets your basic requirements. These basic requirements may include a certain level of education (such as high-school graduate) or a specific skill-set, like coding skills or customer service skills.
After screening candidates based on their basic experience and qualifications, it’s time to narrow the pool further by focusing on the “nice to haves”. Nice to haves might include additional qualifications, likable personality traits and impressive soft skills - like team-building or listening skills, and impressive additional experience.
3. Culture add
Also known as culture fit, culture add refers to how a candidate’s values, behaviors, and interests align with your company values and the behaviors and activities that would make your ideal hire successful in a specific role?
How to screen resumes efficiently
With so many applicants to choose from, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the resume screening process. Here’s how to make the process easier, less time-consuming, and more effective.
Begin with a detailed job description
An effective resume screening process begins way before you even receive a pile of eligible resumes from applicants. It begins with a great job description. On average, there are 250 applicants for every job posted. In order to whittle down the applicant pool, provide a detailed description of the job, company culture, and role requirements.
Be sure to include:
- The experience needed for the role
- Necessary education and qualifications needed for the position
- A list of practical, technical, and soft skills required
- Details regarding their responsibilities during a “standard day”
- Insights into company culture - do you have regular socials? Is your team more independent? What are the social expectations of a new employee?
Use resume screening software
Resume screening software (also known as candidate screening software) refers to software that helps hiring managers screen candidates and fit the best fit for the role. Resume screening software sorts candidates based on keyword search results or answers to particular questions.
This software can go a long way in helping to speed up the screening process, as it quickly and efficiently screens large pools of candidates to find the best fits. Moreover, resume screening software also helps hiring managers avoid costly mistakes during the hiring process.
For example, often key information can mistakenly be missed when a hiring manager has to sift through a high number of applications. Resume screening software ensures that any and all candidates who meet the specific selection criteria are added to the “yes” pile.
Use online skills tests
To further enhance the selection process, use skills tests to test to see if candidates genuinely possess the skills they claim to possess. A staggering 36% of Americans admitted to lying on their resumes, according to a new ResumeLab survey.
To check a candidate’s credibility and ensure that they genuinely possess the skills they need for the job, ask candidates to perform skills-based tests that test both their practical skills and their soft skills.
There is a range of skills tests that you can utilize based on the role you need to fill. Some of our most popular skills-based tests include UX/UI Design, software architect, working with data, WordPress developer, SEO copywriting, and problem solving.
In addition, there are several tests that you can use to test how well someone will fit with your team and the wider company culture. These tests include the enneagram personality test, the culture add test, and the communication test.
Candidates may fluff their skills, but a great reference tells you more than any claim a candidate can make about their talents, experience, and character. Get a referee on the phone and explore a person’s background, character, and capabilities in more detail. Toggl Hire notes that the best way to find out information on a prospective employee is to ask the right questions:
“Go in detail and ask about how the candidate performed, why they left the company, how they handled feedback, what their weakest points were and what they brought to the table. Finally, ask the former employer if they would hire the candidate again.”
Red flags to look out for
When screening applicants, it’s important to know what red flags you need to look out for. By spotting red flags, you can whittle down your pool of candidates extensively - spotting poor fits among the hundreds of resumes in your digital pile.
1. No cover letter
How seriously does a job applicant take a role that they don’t bother to write a cover letter for? Cover letters provide you with insights into someone’s character, successes, skills, and written communication skills. They also help you determine who will show passion and dedication in a role. No cover letter suggests that someone isn’t invested in the job.
2. Unexplained gaps in employment
Many people have gaps in their employment history. But it may indicate an underlying issue if a candidate has large stretches of unexplained employment gaps.
Fit Small Business says, “While there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation, such as military service, starting a family, graduate studies, or taking care of a loved one, any serious candidate should be prepared and willing to explain these gaps in an interview and may even hint toward reasoning within the resume.”
3. Failure to personalize an application
In addition, an applicant who fails to personalize their application is an applicant who isn’t genuinely interested in the role. Simple personalisation tweaks, like using a hiring manager’s name, explaining how their experience and education is a great match for the job, and references to the company culture show thoughtfulness and enthusiasm for the role.
Zippia stresses the importance of this: “If you have included your name in your job ad, then if a candidate can’t even be bothered tailoring their cover letter for your role, then to me that says something about the candidate and their lack of respect towards you and your business. Even if you haven’t included your contact details in the ad, if they can’t even refer to your company name in the opening paragraph, that just shows a complete lack of eye for detail.”
4. Poor spelling and grammar
Depending on the role, poor spelling and grammar can be a red flag on a resume. More practical roles may not require grammar and spelling proficiency, so any mistakes can be overlooked. However, for many roles strong writing skills are required and make a good impression for the company.
In addition, poor spelling and grammar can often be a red flag, as they may signify that someone has been careless and in a rush to apply for the role. This suggests that someone has not taken time and care in crafting their application and that they also may show carelessness in their role.
How to simplify and enhance the resume screening process
Resume screening can feel daunting. As a hiring manager, you often have hundreds of resumes to sift through - from strong candidates and those who would never be a good fit for the job. Many hiring managers spend days working through a pile of resumes which makes for a long and stressful process.
Luckily, there are several effective ways to help simplify the process and ensure that you screen the best candidates for the role. From skills tests to knowing which red flags to look out for, have this list to hand next time you kick-off the resume screening process.
Online skills assessments are a huge help when you're trying to find the most dedicated candidates. When you assess your candidates with TestGorilla, you can rank them by skill level before you screen hundreds of resumes.
Then you only need to evaluate the resumes of qualified candidates. So everyone who has the necessary skills gets a fair shot, and you don’t waste any time on the vast majority of applications that aren’t a good fit.
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