How to Screen Resumes

This article was originally published on Quick Sprout

Advertising a job opening can be an exciting time for a growing small business seeking a new candidate with the perfect skills.

But the thought of going through dozens or hundreds of resumes can dampen the enthusiasm for the process.

Learning how to screen resumes efficiently and successfully is a skill, but it’s also nice to have some help.

Having great recruiting software can facilitate this process, and it can help employers have more success paring down the resumes and screening candidates to find the perfect one.

The Easy Parts of Screening Resumes

Resume screening is the process of determining whether a job applicant has the skills, experience level, and education level required for the open position. Although this can seem like a difficult chore, some aspects of screening resumes are easier and more enjoyable than others.

Saving Time

Using recruiting software, such as Breezy HR, to screen resumes can bring time efficiency to the process of filling jobs. This software can provide several tools to help weed out unqualified candidates, including:

  • Automated candidate screening, based on keywords
  • Applicant tracking
  • Assessment testing
  • Advanced candidate sourcing
  • Problem-solving testing
  • Personality screening
  • Pre-recorded interviewing

HR software can ensure compliance with labor regulations, too.

Certainly, recruiters can duplicate some of these tools and processes when manually screening resumes. Recruiting software enhances the time-saving aspect of using these processes versus performing them manually, though.

Meeting Great People

Through the job search, your company may end up with a host of great candidates. It’s very possible that some candidates aren’t perfect for this job but may fit a different position or a yet-to-be-created position.

Finding and meeting highly qualified people through this job search can be a source for filling future job openings. Recruiting software can help the company stay in touch with these candidates.

Additionally, it can be inspirational to see the interest good candidates have in the company. It gives the company confidence that it’s moving in the right direction with its growth.

Improving Job Descriptions

If the company receives a bunch of resumes that don’t really fit the job description, think of this as useful information. Use it to figure out how to write a better job description the next time, resulting in higher-quality candidates.

Some recruiting software has job description templates available that may help with this.

The Difficult Parts of Screening Resumes

The process of screening resumes has plenty of challenges, even when using the best recruiting software.

Narrowing the Candidate Pool

It’s nice to have a large pool of candidates when advertising a job opening. However, there’s also a downside to this: it leaves the employer with more work to do when screening.

It can be frustrating to try to narrow the candidate pool. Not only are there a lot of resumes to sort through, which eats up time, but there’s the fear of missing a great candidate because of the sheer volume.

Bringing some aspects of automated screening into the process with recruiting software can help with this issue.

Losing a Great Candidate

When the resume screening process takes too long, the perfect candidate for the job may receive another offer. As a recruiter, spending dozens of hours trying to find just the right candidate, only to have the candidate unavailable when the job offer occurs, is incredibly disheartening.

The screening process in recruiting software can help narrow the candidate pool faster, allowing the process to move more quickly. It does this with term and key phrase searching, and some even have artificial intelligence to screen for softer skills and not just what is listed on a resume.

Dealing with False Positives

Recruiting software is helpful when screening resumes, but it isn’t perfect. Its screening tools sometimes lead to some unqualified candidates surviving the first round or two. Savvy job candidates may be able to trick the recruiting software’s keyword assessments, placing them in the pool of shortlisted candidates inadvertently.

Unfortunately, false positives can lead to significant issues. The company may miss some great candidates while focusing on the false-positive candidates, for example. The best recruiting software will do a better job of avoiding false positives, keeping the job search on track, and moving forward quickly.

Step 1: Create a Job Posting

With a high-end recruiting software package, such as Breezy HR, your company can handle the entire hiring process through the software.

For starters, after the company determines that it has an open job position to fill, it’s time to create a job posting. We will use Breezy HR to walk through the setup process.

Add the Position

Breezy HR has an open positions page from which users can add the new job opening. Click on the Add Position button to start the process.

Follow the steps listed on the left side of the window to complete the new job listing. Recruiters can post the job on multiple job boards through the software too.

Create the Job Description

In each of the text boxes and drop-down menus on the screen, add descriptions that describe the job.

Recruiting software can often help add the text for the job description by prefilling some text boxes. This is helpful for job positions where the recruiter has little knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the actual position.

However, when a job listing has less precise information and requirements, the sheer number of candidates who think they’re qualified will increase. Tread carefully when creating a job description. Ask for help from someone with more knowledge of the position, if necessary.

Add a city and state for the job position, even if it will be a remote or freelance position. When posting on job boards, a physical location is important.

Use bullets, bold text, and headers in the text box to make the job posting easily scannable for potential candidates. Save the changes.

Step 2: Create an Application Form

Beyond just having candidates submit resumes, it’s helpful to have a form applicants can use to submit information.

The proper form ensures that each candidate submits the most important information that companies need. The candidate may have an incomplete resume, limiting the software’s ability to properly consider the candidate. The form ensures all desired information is available.

The form also gives the recruiting software the ability to quickly search the candidates’ data. Using a form offers more success than having the software scan the resume alone.

Breezy HR gives suggestions on which items should be part of the application form. Add the items that make the most sense for this particular job position and avoid the others. Too many questions on the application form can frustrate candidates.

Add a Screening Questionnaire

As an added screening tool, Breezy HR allows companies to have candidates complete questionnaires as part of the application process. These questionnaires can determine skills the job candidate has, such as:

  • General aptitude
  • Educational specialty areas
  • Real-world skills developed
  • Ability to work inside a team
  • Mathematical or scientific aptitude
  • Writing aptitude

For a job posting that requires specific skills not covered in the built-in questionnaires, companies can create a custom Q&A form.

Once an applicant completes the questionnaire, Breezy HR will be able to screen candidates based on their answers, along with their resume information. Having more information available often results in a more successful screening process.

Step 3: Assign Permissions to Team Members


When hiring people for new job positions at a small business, one recruiter may handle the process from start to finish. At medium- and large-sized companies, though, multiple people typically will participate in the hiring process.

You can assign different people in the organization to specific job postings in Breezy HR. Through this feature, multiple people can involve themselves with a single posting, if desired, to collaborate about candidates.

Additionally, certain team members can receive permissions that allow them to approve the posting of job positions. Other team members will need to obtain permission to post a job.

Step 4: Set Up the Recruiting Pipeline


When using recruiting software like Breezy HR, the software helps the company track candidates’ progress through the recruiting pipeline.

This pipeline handles the entire process, from the introduction of candidates who applied through hiring.

Create the Pipeline Steps

For those familiar with project management software that uses cards in different columns, the Breezy HR pipeline offers a similar design. The software has other interface designs available, too.

Each candidate will have an individual card. The recruiter can move the card back and forth in the columns to indicate the candidate’s current status.

Breezy HR has a set of suggested columns to use in the pipeline. They can include:

  • Application received
  • Passed initial screening
  • Passed phone screening
  • First interview
  • Passed background screening
  • Final candidates
  • Final interview
  • Job offered
  • Job accepted

Breezy HR also allows for customization of the pipeline steps.

Filter the Pipeline Views

If the pipeline window is too cluttered, enacting filters to remove some of the candidate cards temporarily may help.

Along the left side of the Breezy HR window, click the Positions/Pools link. In the upper left corner of the window, click on the filter icon to open a list of available filtering criteria.

After placing checkmarks next to the filtering criteria to use, click the Apply Filter button. With the filtering criteria applied, the pipeline view will have fewer candidates displayed. This simplifies the process of screening the candidates.

Remove the filter selections to return to the normal pipeline view.

Step 5: Use Candidate Cards in the Pipeline

Using the pipeline greatly simplifies tracking candidates after screening the resumes. First, though, candidates need to have a card in the system.

Manage Cards for Prospects

As candidates apply for jobs at the company, the recruiting software creates cards for them. This automated process simplifies things for the recruiter at the company and prevents data entry errors.

These cards contain all of the information the job candidate submits for the job. Some of this information includes:

  • Resume and other files
  • Answers to any questionnaires
  • Any recorded video interviews
  • References
  • Discussions about candidates among team members
  • Calendar of communications with the candidate
  • Notes and ratings of the candidate

Once the cards exist in the system, the Breezy HR users can edit the information on the cards. Users can add new, edit existing, and delete information.

Migrate the Cards

Moving candidate cards from column to column is an easy process. Just drag the card from one column and drop it into the new column.

The software allows recruiters to move multiple cards at once.

Recruiters can delete candidate cards from a particular job posting once the candidate drops out of consideration or once the recruiter removes the candidate from consideration.

Step 6: Compare Candidates

Another feature that can help recruiters screen resumes and candidates in Breezy HR is comparing one candidate in the pool to another. The easiest way to do this is through a scorecard feature.

After creating a scorecard for the candidate, Breezy HR will provide a series of categories that the recruiter can use to rate the candidate. Additionally, the recruiter can add specific categories to the scorecard to reflect the type of job under consideration.

Recruiters can give candidates exact scores on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 for each category within the scorecard. They also can rank a candidate on a scale of poor to good.

Depending on the permissions assigned earlier in the process, multiple members of the hiring team can have the ability to provide scores for the candidate. Team members who don’t have permission to add scores can add comments on the scorecard.

Discuss Candidates

As an additional means of comparing job seekers and screening resumes and candidates, team members can hold text discussions on the candidates. Use the notes sections in the candidate’s card to make comments. Only members of the hiring team can see these notes. Candidates never have access to these notes.

Through these discussion areas in the recruiting software, team members can make their feelings known for each potential hire without meeting in person. With the notes and scorecard in place, important discussion facts about candidates won’t fall through the cracks.

Every bit of information is always on the card for team members to reference as they make final decisions.

Step 7: Maintain Potential Candidate Pools

As recruiters work through a list of candidates for a particular job, they may find the ideal candidate. However, they may also find that a few other candidates would be good fits for different positions that the company expects to have open in the near future.

Having a chance to save the information for these candidates and to be able to contact them about other jobs is a key feature in Breezy HR. Rather than deleting the candidate’s information, just add the candidate to the candidate pools section of the software.

The administrator for the recruiting software will be able to create different types of candidate pools. These differences will help the recruiters keep the candidates sorted based on their skill sets. This makes it easier to pull a high-quality candidate from the pool when a new job opens.

Breezy HR makes the process of creating candidate pools very similar to creating new job postings. Recruiters don’t have to learn any new techniques to keep track of potential candidates in the pool.

All of the notes and scorecard ratings that the candidate collected during the initial job candidacy will remain as part of the card in the candidate pool. This historical data can be helpful as team members consider the candidate for the new position.

This article was written by Lars Lofgren

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