Resume Screening : How To Guide On Effective Screening

In a recruitment process, resume screening is a task that is most critical and at the same time most time consuming.

On an average, a job position fetches around 250 odd applications. To everyone’s knowledge about 86% of them are not suitable for the job. Nevertheless, a recruiter or a hiring manager has to go through the pain of screening all resumes.

Resume screening happens in two stages. Initial screening is generally done by a recruiter and then shortlisted resumes are forwarded to hiring manager. Hiring manager ends up shortlisting only 10% of those. This clearly explains the amount of time spent on just screening resumes.

In recent times, because of the outburst of the social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, it has become easier to spread the word about various job openings. This has contributed significantly in increase in number of applications received per job. Also, some of the recruitment softwares or recruitment CRM products also helping in improving recruiter’s reach with recruitment marketing methods.

Post sourcing candidate applications, some organizations use various assessment tools that help them with initial technical screening. However, technical screening only works for entry level or junior candidates. It could be a big NO for most experience candidates.

We all know, how competitive recruitment market is! In a candidate driven market. It is extremely important that we reach right candidate at the right time. Hence, we have to be extremely efficient with our resume screening process.

We have come up with few guidelines that could help you to be more efficient and effective with resume screening. As part of these guidelines we will also brief you about how AI can be used for resume screening.

What Is Resume Screening?

Resume screening is a process of finding if the candidate is suitable for the job role based on skills, education, experience and few other criteria.

Basically it’s a match making process between job positions and resumes.

What Are The Important Factors In Resume Screening ?

Below are some of the  important factors that weigh in while screening resumes. Although, not all factors at once will define the fate of resume, however most of these are important.

  • Education
  • Skills
  • Relevant experience
  • Years of experience
  • Current Company
  • Other Companies worked for
  • Functional Domain worked in
  • Cities or countries worked in
  • Number of Jobs 
  • Written Communication
  • Visa Status if applicable
  • Contact Details
  • Current Location
  • Web Presence
resumes received for a job position are found irrelevant
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How To Screen Resumes?

Screening resumes can be broadly classified into two categories.

A. Objective or Binary Resume Screening

B. Subjective Resume Screening.

A. Objective or Binary Resume Screening

As the name suggests, it is a kind of resume screening where you can use binary filters. Here, you just need to find if candidate meets the required criteria or NOT. For example if you are strictly looking for candidates with Phd then you just need to ignore candidates who do not have Phd. Or if you are looking for candidates with minimum 5 years of experience then you just need to ignore candidates with less than 5 years of experience.

Same criteria can be followed in case of country, visa status, location, etc. Recruiters find such screening easy as there is almost no confusion in the screening criteria. Using such criteria help in case of high volume hiring. If you are hiring for niche positions then such criteria are often secondary.

B. Subjective Resume Screening

There are some screening criteria like skills, relevant experience, working background where you simply cannot use binary filters.

For skills you might think keyword search or keyword match could work. One with maximum keyword match would fit for the role. However, this is often misleading because more than keywords the context in which that keyword is used is also important.

Sometimes, candidates would put the certifications or training program they have attended on their resumes and they may not have the actual work experience to show for. Also, sometimes skills are written in the different fashion such as long name vs ACRONYM.

Similarly, some of the most contributing factors towards resume screening are –

  • What kind of universities candidate comes from.
  • What kind of companies candidate has worked for.
  • What kind of functional domain candidate has experience in

This helps to understand if candidate comes from similar or aspirational working background. This could also help in  assuming the kind of salary candidate might be drawing currently.

Pay attention to some X factors in the resume such as –

  • Significant awards or difficult certifications done
  • Hobbies
  • Duration with previous firms
  • If any pattern in job hopping
  • New skills acquired over the tenure
  • Writing skills in the resume such as grammar, presentation, etc.

Limitations and Challenges Faced in Resume Screening

Resume screening has been a manual tasks. Its efficiency and effectiveness depends on the factors such as number of resumes received, or domain expertise of the recruiter in order to comprehend the details given on the resume.

Time To Screen Resume

As mentioned earlier, on an average 250 resumes are received for every open job position. Often, about 86-90% applications received are irrelevant. So, imagine the time spent in screening irrelevant candidates!

Because resume screening is a manual process, you would expect resumes are screened on first come first basis. Unfortunately while screening hundreds of resumes manually, very often,  that is about 90% of time you would find resumes are irrelevant. The irrelevancy we are referring here is more on the subjective areas like relevant experience, company culture, etc.

This could make you believe that the candidates you are looking for are hard to find and you tend to make compromises in quality of hire.You could settle for less or average.

Domain Expertise of Recruiters

It is not easy for recruiters to acquire knowledge outside their domain. Recruiter often screen resumes for multiple verticals. For example, a recruiter in a company could be screening profiles for marketing, sales, IT, engineering profiles. We cannot expect them to have good understanding of all the verticals especially if those are technical. This often leads to short listing wrong profile for the wrong job.

In such scenarios it is often hiring manager who does most of the screening. The time spent by recruiter in such kind of first level of screening is completely unproductive.

Limitations of Existing Recruitment Technology

Recruiters often use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or recruitment spreadsheet. Recruitment spreadsheet cannot automate resume screening for you. That means recruiter are completely dependent on manual screening.

ATS helps recruiter to some extent where you can easily automate binary level of resume screening. It is also called as pre-screening where you filter our candidate who do not fit into binary criteria such as qualification, years of experience, location, etc.

ATS could also help you match candidates based on keywords. However, it is very well known that keyword matching is flawed. ATS would often matches resumes that are stuffed with  keywords and leaves out resumes which are not so dense on keywords.

Resume Screening Using AI

With advancement in technology such as AI, machine learning, NLP and deep learning, recruitment technology is also undergoing a big change.

AI For Recruitment

AI recruiting software now automating recruitment process like never before. Such AI recruiting tools are modern, intuitive and easy to adapt. These tools are slowly changing the face of HR technology.

Automated Resume Screening Using AI

AI algorithm understands the kind of job requirement you have. It also learns from your hiring practices the kind of candidates you generally interview or hire. Such learning from the recruitment process goes beyond keyword match and takes into consideration multiple factors such as context in the resume, hiring pattern of your organization, etc. Basis that it does the matching and ranking of resumes. It helps you identify right candidates in the very beginning of recruitment and selection process.

AI for resume screening can be integrated with existing ATS or it could be an ATS with AI resume screening capabilities.

Using AI for resume screening solves all three concern areas viz. Time to screen, Domain expertise of recruiters and keyword based resume screening.

AI automatically learns from your hiring process. It learns the kind of candidates you shortlist, interview or hire. Hence, it can easily identify which candidates match the requirement best.

Using AI for resume screening you can screen thousands of resumes in matter of few seconds hence saving recruiter’s precious time.


Resume screening is a process to find right candidates that matches the job role, matches the company’s expectations. If the volume of applications is high then it always makes the job of screening very difficult. Hence you need to use the right mix of binary filters, subjective screening and right technology.

Use of advance technology like AI for resume screening can help you tremendously to overcome most of the challenges and engage best candidates in hiring process.

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