Resume screening tools: the pros, the cons, and best practices

Resume screening tools: the pros, the cons, and best practices

Our blog Resume screening tools: the pros, the cons, and best practices
Resume screening tools: the pros, the cons, and best practices

Creating a robust talent pipeline is a critical step on the road to building a successful team. When executed well, the interview process is swift, painless, and hopefully even enjoyable for the candidate and company employees. But before you get there, a tremendous amount of work goes into sourcing and screening candidates. 

At larger companies, hiring teams may include several recruiters and recruiting coordinators, allowing for a shared workload. There’s strength in numbers, and larger teams are better equipped to catch red flags and bring in top-rated talent. 

On the other hand, some teams only have one or two recruiters who wear many hats. To help small teams get through a massive pile of resumes, some companies turn to resume screening tools.

What is resume screening software?

Resume screening software helps recruitment and talent acquisition departments increase efficiency. It does that by organizing all the resumes received for each role, so that the team is able to prioritize the candidates they want to invite to the interview process. Typically, a resume screening tool will determine the best applicants for a role based on keyword search results or answers to specific questions.

Usually, a resume screening tool will be part of your applicant tracking system (ATS).

“More than 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to streamline the recruiting process and keep up with the thousands of applications received weekly, but plenty of smaller employers have embraced the tool too, according to data collected by Jobscan,” reports CNBC.

But that doesn’t mean that resume screening software is the best option for all companies.

The Pros and Cons

As with any software, there are many advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration before using this recruiting tool. Here's an infographic illustrating some of the pros and cons.

Resuming Screening Pros and Cons Infographic

The advantages of using resume screening software

It saves time. Time is precious for a recruiter. It is reported that they spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume before rejecting it or deciding to give it a closer look. With the average open position garnering 250 applicants, a recruiter could have thousands of resumes to sift through depending on the number of open roles the company has. 

That can quickly amount to several days spent on the resume screening process alone. And that’s just the beginning of the hiring process. Recruiters and hiring teams ultimately dedicate an average of 42 days per job post, if not longer. Considering research that shows that 88% of said applicants are unqualified for the role, it can be draining and counterproductive for a recruiter to give specialized attention to each resume. 

As Hire Right explains, “Elements like resume screening, online job posting, and interview scheduling can help relieve much of the manual work associated with finding ideal candidates, allocating more of your time to other pertinent hiring efforts.”

It can help manage a large volume of candidates. As we stated, the average job posting attracts the attention of approximately 250 applicants. This can often result in an increased risk of human error and carelessness. A recruiter may overlook key qualifications when scanning resumes due to a high volume and a deadline to hire. This can result in missing out on great talent. 

As mentioned earlier, many resume screening programs come as a part of ATS software that serves as a one-stop shop for all resources, information, and materials related to the recruiting team and talent pipeline. 

The system can help determine whether a candidate is a good fit, and keep their resume and contact information on file. The hiring team then saves time on manually scanning resumes, recording notes and contact information, and keeping track of tasks related to the recruiting process.

The disadvantages of resume screening tools 

False positives and false negatives. Of course, like anything related to technology, resume screening tools are smart, but they’re not perfect. 

While the system can eliminate those who are not a fit, some applicants may know how to manipulate the algorithm, resulting in a bad fit landing on the desk of a busy recruiter. 

After all, most of the top results for “resume scanner” are written to explain how to game the system. 

And wasting time on candidates who aren’t a fit isn’t the only problem you may encounter. The system cannot always read certain fonts, colors, or unconventional formatting, and may end up “kicking out” someone who may be perfect for the role.

Not 100% customizable or flexible. Although most ATS solutions are being updated all of the time, they lack the capability for full customization. For example, Lever will allow recruiters to log the status of their talent with flags such as “Reached Out,” “Responded,” “Phone Interview” and “On-Site Interview.” But if your company has a different interview process with additional steps, you may have difficulty tailoring the software to your unique approach.

How to maximize the use of a resume screening tool

Do your research. You’ll quickly find there are countless options when it comes to resume screening tools. Some of the most trusted and widely used companies include Lever, Greenhouse, SmartRecruiters, and LinkedIn Recruiting. Learn about their features and decide whether any of them fits your company’s current and future needs. 

Each of these companies have packaged their resume screening tool within a larger ATS, so you’ll need to make sure that you need most of what they offer or you may end up overpaying for extra features you don’t need.

Ask for a trial period. Many of the resume screening and ATS companies are excited to acquire new business and are willing to work with various budgets, timelines, and company needs. It never hurts to ask for a trial period of 90 days at a prorated cost. Many of them even offer a free trial period.

Work closely with the vendor. Because complex tools can be overwhelming to new users, most companies will work with the client to create an implementation plan and provide robust training. Be mindful of your team and the learning curve that will inevitably come with introducing a new tool. 

Vendors often can provide guides and best practices to ensure client satisfaction. Ask about the onboarding process and the availability of a customer success team.

Survey your HR team. To get the most out of any software, your team will need to buy into it. These tools take time to learn, so you’ll want to make sure your people are excited (or at least willing) to implement a new system. 

Survey your HR and talent acquisition teams for feedback. Be open to new ideas and pivoting in a direction that is best for the team. 

Review the metrics. Examine the progress that you make with the resume screening tool you select. For example, is it decreasing time to hire or is slowing your team down?

How to determine what is best for your company

Still unsure if a resume screening tool is best for your company? Consider your process and the current gaps you’re experiencing within the interview process and candidate experience. You should be able to identify the problem you’re looking to solve. 

Is it time, money, resources, or quality of candidate? (Maybe all of the above!) By identifying the key issues you’re solving for, you can prioritize the features you need in an ATS, and you may determine that a resume screening tool isn’t the right fit for your process. 

Resume Screening Alternatives

If you’re looking to quickly reduce hundreds of resumes to a manageable number of truly skilled applicants, consider supplementing (or replacing) resume screening software with online skills assessments.

It may be that currently, many applicants aren’t getting a good look in the hiring process just because of when they apply (you may be so overloaded that you just can look at resumes that are submitted after a certain period of time). After implementing a resume scanning tool, you may find that you are still missing out on good candidates because they are being spit out in favor of applicants who know how to please your resume scanning software.

An online skills assessment can be a good way to find out who has the skills you’re looking for without looking at a single resume. For example, with TestGorilla, you can build an assessment with up to five of the 90+ scientifically validated tests in our Test Library, and have candidates take the assessment instead of sending in their resume.

Then you spend your time following up with the best candidates instead of poring over resumes and cover letters.

Find the Tool That Works for You

Whether it’s a resume screening tool, an online skills assessment platform, or something else entirely, finding the best tools for your hiring process is an important step for any company. 

It’s essential to understand what systems and tools will propel your team to greater success. Set yourself and the team up for success by conducting thoughtful research and examining the costs associated with your current and prospective hiring process. That way you’ll be sure to make the right decision for your organization.

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