Everything you need to know about resume parsing

Last updated:
December 14, 2020
April 19, 2022
min read
Stacey Wonder
Table of contents

A recruiter’s job is not an easy one. For any job vacancy, a recruiter can expect to receive in the tens, if not hundreds of resumes.

Imagine the number of hours needed to scan through every single resume to check an applicant’s suitability for a role and whether they should progress to the next stage. On top of that, there is the issue of ensuring the recruitment process is completely unbiased.

This is where resume parsing comes in. Rather than relying on the man-power of recruiters manually scanning through every document that is sent in, resume parsing software scans it automatically and sorts applicants by suitability according to work experience, education, and certifications.

Not only does this save a huge amount of time, but it can also ensure the recruitment process is ‘blind’ to potentially biased factors such as name, nationality, gender, race, and age.

What is resume parsing?

Resume parsing is a method of converting free-form resume documents in a more structured set of information suitable for mass storage, reporting, and editing. Above all, the main benefit of resume parsing for recruiters is to help them manage resume documents sent electronically.

Most commonly, recruiters will receive resumes in a PDF or word format, which is easy to read but not easy to manage when receiving hundreds of resumes a day. Resume parsing eliminates the need for manual processing.

What are the main benefits of resume parsing?

  • It removes the need to process manually, and analyze every individual job application received
  • It saves recruiters many hours of sorting through job applications
  • Applications can be sorted and stored in a number of different ways to create a database

How does resume parsing work?

Resume parsing begins first by uploading all the applications for a job vacancy into the parsing software. This can be done manually, but many recruiters will set this to be done automatically.

The parsing software will then scan through each resume, extract the information relevant to the application and recruiter’s needs - this could include things like work experience, specific skills, educational background, qualifications/certifications, contact details, etc.

Simultaneously, the parsing software can eliminate candidates without the relevant information - providing recruiters with a list of suitable candidates without needing to spend hours going through each and every resume manually.

What does resume parsing have to do with candidates?

Knowing about resume parsing and how it works is essential information for ensuring that when you sit down to write your resume, you use the correct layout and design to ensure the software can read your document correctly.

Without keeping this in mind, you could submit a document that can’t be read by the parsing software, and is therefore immediately eliminated from the selection without ever progressing to the next stage of the recruitment process.

A few tips for making your CV resume parsing software ‘safe’:

  • Keep your font and style simple

Use a standard font such as Calibri or Cambria and avoid flamboyant designs that could confuse the software.

  • Include your name in the file name of the resume

Don’t make the very easy mistake of simply saving your resume as ‘Resume’ or ‘CV’. Save it with your name, so recruiters know who the resume belongs to.

  • Submit your resume as a .doc format

Alternatively, you can export your document as a PDF, but don’t scan the PDF as an image as resume parsing software will not work on images and so will probably eliminate your resume immediately.

  • Avoid tables and columns
  • Give headings obvious names that the software will be looking for such as ‘education’, ‘work experience,’ ‘qualifications and achievements,’ etc.
  • Order your CV chronologically from most recent experience to oldest

While these tips may seem like your resume will be very bland and simple in design, in fact, this just makes it easier to scan for both the resume parsing software and for recruiters when looking at your resume.

Many applicants make the mistake of thinking that your CV needs to ‘wow’ recruiters in terms of design. However, what is really going to impress your recruiter is having the right skills and work experience for the job you're applying for, so a basic resume that clearly outlines your experience along with a summary of your skills and suitability as a candidate is best.

Finally, make sure you've edited and spell checked your resume properly. The parsing software will not be able to identify the spelling errors and therefore, will think the information that it’s scanning for has been omitted altogether. This final step is something that all candidates should be doing in order to ensure your resume appears professional to recruiters whether they are using parsing software or not.

As a candidate, resume parsing is an important part of the recruitment process to be a part of. It’s the knowledge that can help you edit your resume and ensure that the necessary information to determine your suitability for the role you are applying for can be easily extracted. So next time you go to apply for a new job, keep this in mind to ensure your resume makes the final cut.

Get the

Get the exclusive tips, resources and updates to help you hire better!

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linked In
Go to the top

Hire better, faster, together!

Bring your hiring teams together, boost your sourcing, automate your hiring, and evaluate candidates effectively.