7 Top Resume Screening Tips

A hiring manager conducts resume screening to identify top candidates.

When you post a job opening on a popular job board, you could have dozens or even hundreds of applicants. It would be time-consuming to carefully review every single resume. Fortunately, there are ways you can simplify the resume screening process so you can hire top talent faster. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Start with an Accurate Job Description

Your resume screening process is much quicker and easier when you have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and requirements. Starting with an accurate job description will ensure you attract the right candidates and discourage unqualified applicants from applying. This will save you from having to screen excess resumes unnecessarily.

Brainstorm with your team to get the exact candidate requirements and list them on your job posting. Focus on easy-to-identify specifications, such as required:

  • Years’ experience.
  • Certifications.
  • Previous responsibilities.
  • Past job titles.
  • Levels of education.
  • Skills and competencies.

Know which requirements are necessary and which are preferred. This way, it will be easy to sort each resume into the “consider” and “pass” piles.

2. Invest in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An ATS is tracking software that can streamline your resume screening process by helping you scan and sort applications according to the preset data you specify. Used by 75% of recruiters, this software makes it easier to identify top candidates without having to read hundreds or even thousands of resumes.

For example, if you are hiring for an entry-level position and you require candidates to have at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can program the tracking system to eliminate those who don’t have the necessary education level. Some systems will rank candidates based on the keyword volume, making it even easier to decide who to invite to an interview.

More and more companies are also using artificial intelligence (AI) along with their ATS. The AI integrates with your ATS software and predicts which resume to move through the system based on your past choices and successful employees. As the AI software learns which types of candidates you are likely to hire, it uses that data when sorting through your applications.

3. Choose Screening Keywords Carefully

Screening resumes accurately can require a delicate balance. On one hand, you want to find candidates that list the skills, qualifications, and experience you want, but on the other hand, not all qualified candidates will use the exact wording or verbiage you specify.

Only you can know how strict or liberal you can be with your keyword sorting, but keep in mind that it is possible to miss qualified candidates if you are too restrictive. Rank the importance of your screening keywords so you can choose the most important ones, and think about which are extremely important, nice to have, and definite nos. This way, you will get more accurate results from your screening and won’t need to spend time second-guessing your decisions.

4. Post Your Salary Range

Many businesses shy away from this, but more are warming up to the reality that it helps sort out candidates who wouldn’t be interested in the role. It’s also required by law in some states and localities.

You don’t want to waste time vetting candidates who won’t accept your job offer based on the salary range. When you are transparent from the start, you can eliminate a large group of candidates that wouldn’t take your offer.

5. Discard Incomplete Applications

It may sound harsh, but you don’t want to consider candidates who haven’t provided all the information you ask of them. This is a quick and easy way to determine which candidates read your job post thoroughly, can follow specific directions, and put in the necessary effort.

6. Use Blind Hiring Techniques

Blind hiring helps you avoid unconscious bias. By focusing on the skills and qualifications of your applicants and blocking out — at least initially — information that might lead you to disqualify candidates who could be a great fit, it ensures you can screen resumes quickly and fairly.

For example, some organizations program their ATS to temporarily block applicant addresses, ethnicities, and other personal information so the hiring manager can focus on the candidate’s skills and abilities. Not only does it help you create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, but it also helps you make hiring decisions faster.

7. Be Strategic When Screening Manually

Even with the use of ATS and other automated resume screening tools, you might want to manually screen some of the resumes you receive since the technology can miss great-fit job prospects. If you don’t have a plan in place, you could spend far too much time scouring resumes for candidates whom you wouldn’t hire in the first place.

If you are going to scan manually — whether in conjunction with your ATS or from start to finish — have applicants fill out a quick form with the must-have and dealbreaker information front and center. It could be a simple questionnaire or dropdown that will help you sort through them with just a glance.

Also, look for figures and examples that back up the information on the resume. Sometimes job applicants will stuff their resumes with keywords, so it comes up in the system, but they lack the experience to be a good fit for the position. With so many resumes to screen and so little time, you don’t want to go down every possible rabbit hole for the sake of it. Being more strategic will help you focus on screening only those who are likely to be a good fit.

Find Your Next Great Hire Fast with Better Resume Screening

Effective resume screening can help you refine your applicant searches and quickly find strongly matched candidates. Start your next hire with a free job posting with Monster and attract top talent in your industry.