How to shortcut your resume screening

Last updated:
February 26, 2021
June 14, 2023
min read
Brendan McConnell
shortcut your resume screening
Table of contents

By far one of the most frustrating parts of being a recruiter is all of the resumes that you constantly have to sift through. Technology has at least gotten rid of the stacks of paper, but, let’s be honest, emails and LinkedIn messages aren’t that much better. Luckily, there are a wide variety of ways to cut down on your resume screening time, most of which start with the right technology and some good old fashioned planning.

Typical steps to resume screening

Before we get into how to reduce your resume screening time, let’s recap what a typical process looks like.

  1. You’re assigned a job vacancy to fill.
  2. You write a job description, including minimum and preferred job requirements.
  3. You post your job ad and wait for the applicants to roll in.
  4. You screen the applicants’ resumes.
  5. You shortlist based on your job requirements.
  6. You schedule and conduct interviews.

Typically, the most time-consuming step in the resume screening process is #6 – the actual act of going through resumes. As you’ll see in the next section, this time-consuming process can be streamlined using a combination of proper planning, technology, and modern techniques like recruitment video answers.

How to reduce your resume screening time

Speeding up your resume screening consists of three primary activities to improve efficiency:

  1. Better planning.
  2. Recruitment technology.
  3. Modern recruitment tactics.
  4. Ask the right interview questions.

Let’s take a look at each.

Better planning

Taking the time to research your job requirements internally with key stakeholders is an invaluable first step to streamlining the remainder of the process. Meet with managers and team members to learn exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate. This will give you insight into what your job description and requirements should look like.

Then, write your job description and recruitment ads with your target candidate in mind. Speak to them, and tell them exactly what you want out of an applicant. Be clear about your minimum and preferred qualifications, and use those as the basis for your resume screening. This will help candidates pre-screen themselves, reducing the number of unqualified resumes you need to sift through.

When done properly, recruitment planning typically involves the following steps:

  1. Gap analysis or forecast of resource requirements. It’s a good idea to always have insight into what your future hiring needs might be. This means conducting regular meetings with company management to stay up to date on strategic priorities and direction. From there, you can conduct a gap analysis of your current human resources pool versus what your future needs will be. This, combined with your regular backlog of vacancies, will help you prioritize the jobs you spend the most time on. Understanding your needs, and being strategic about how you fill them, is the first step to improving efficiency when screening resumes.
  2. Creating core job requirements. Spend time collecting information about every job vacancy that will help you develop and accurate picture of the job requirements needed to be successful. That means meeting with hiring managers and team members, doing industry research, talking to people who currently or have held that role, and any other tactic you can think of to get a full picture of the position. From there, you’ll be able to write clear and relevant job requirements to use when seeking out candidates. This step helps to eliminate unqualified candidates before they even submit a resume.
  3. Writing and advertising recruitment ads. After job requirements, it’s time to write your recruitment ads. The language and content of your ads should both speak to your target candidates, while also staying in line with your brand voice. Be sure to add all relevant information about the job, while also showing off the personality and values of your company. This will help candidates pre-screen themselves as to whether or not they’re a fit.
  4. Collecting and analyzing resumes. As explained in the next section, how and where you collect resumes is incredibly important to speeding up your resume screening. There are hundreds of tech platforms available to automate and streamline the collection and analysis of resumes. Be sure to do your due diligence to find a platform that works best for you.
  5. Screening and shortlisting candidates. Many tech stacks help to automate the process of screening resumes by using keywords and artificial intelligence technology. To do so, however, it’s critical that you go through Steps 1 and as thoroughly as possible so that you have a clear handle on what your technology should be screening for.

As mentioned, recruitment technology is at the core of efficient resume screening.

Recruitment technology

Once the resumes start streaming in, your best friend will be a solid Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Modern ATS platforms offer automated resume screening and shortlisting features that sort out candidates who do not meet your specific minimum requirements. This reduces your workload immensely right off the bat.

From there, you can use tools like Boolean search and other ATS sorting features to narrow your candidate list down even further. Here’s an example of how this process might work:

  1. Recruitment ads are posted online.
  2. Candidates fill out the online job application and submit their resumes.
  3. The application is sent to the ATS platform, where a candidate profile is created based on the information provided.
  4. The ATS uses keyword searches and language analysis to determine if the candidate profile meets the job requirements inputted by the recruiter. Recruiters can manually search this database at any time.
  5. A shortlist of candidate profiles is generated based on this initial screening.
  6. The recruiter reviews the shortlisted resumes and refines the list from there.

Once you have a shortlist of resumes you’d like to interview, you can then leverage some modern recruitment tactics to streamline this phase as well.

Modern recruitment tactics

Perhaps the most time-friendly recruitment tactic you can use to speed up the resume screening process is video answers. These are answers you collect from candidates via video chat, which address specific screening or interview questions related to your job requirements.

Using video answers during the resume screening process gives you an extra layer of information to work from when sorting your resumes. In the early interviewing phase, video answers can be used to put a face and personality to a resume, helping you further narrow down your candidate pool without having to bring everyone in for an in-person interview.

Asking the right interview questions in these phases will help you get the video answers you need to make informed decisions about who to call back. Here’s a Recruitee article that lists the top interview questions you should use to get the best results.

With a combination of thorough planning, a solid recruitment tech stack, and modern tactics like video answers, you’ll be able to drastically improve the efficiency of your resume screening process.

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