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Resume Screening: 4 Smart Ways to Find the Best Applicants

You post the details about a new job opening, and within hours you’re flooded with applications. And now you’re dreading the resume screening process.

Does that ever happen to you? Resume screening is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters because it can take a ton of time and energy. 

Industry data suggests recruiters spend an estimated 23 hours on resume screening just to fill a single position. It’s not uncommon for a single job listing to bring in 250+ candidates.

That might be great if all 250 were top-level candidates. But they’re not. On average, up to 88% of the job seekers who apply don’t meet the minimum qualifications for the position you’re trying to fill.

You can see why this process can become such a time commitment, right?

So how do you improve your resume screening process to find the best candidates to interview?

Here are some things you can do:

1. Get clear on minimum qualifications

You’re hoping to make an offer and get a new employee in place within a few weeks. But you’ve got a mountain of resumes to sift through.

What’s the first step in resume screening to narrow down the list of candidates?

Get clear on the minimum qualifications for the position. This can include things like:

  • Relevant experience
  • Degree, education, licenses
  • Work-related skills
  • Basic competencies

This should be the easiest part of the resume screening process. You should be able to eliminate a lot of people from the pool quickly. If a candidate doesn’t meet one of these minimum qualifications, they’re not a good fit for the position.

2. Define your preferred qualifications

Once you’ve eliminated a chunk of candidates who aren’t qualified, create a new set of parameters based on preferred qualifications.

  • Besides the basics, what else would you like your new hire to bring to the table?
    What job-related skills or industry-experience would help make the new-hire transition and ramp-up period better for everyone?
  • What preferred qualifications would help your new hire hit the ground running if they accept your offer?

This part of the resume screening process helps you narrow the field even more. This gets you one step closer to booking interviews.

3. Create a shortlist of candidates to interview

If you’re trying to speed up the resume screening process and fill a position, now is a good time to create a shortlist of candidates.

  • Go through your list of those who meet the “preferred qualifications,” and narrow this down to the top 3 to 5 applicants.
  • Then reach out with a phone call or email to schedule an interview.
  • If you don’t get a response, or one of the candidates is out of the job market, invite the next finalists in your shortlist for an interview.

Part of the resume screening process depends on what your organization looks like, how many positions you have to fill, and what your hiring process is like.

  • Every organization is a little different. Maybe you’re trying to fill a single position. Or, maybe you have multiple positions open.
  • Based on your staffing needs, you may put everyone who meets the minimum qualifications through the interview process and eliminate candidates based on those meetings.

For most recruiters, the goal is to find a well-qualified candidate and fill a position as soon as possible.

4. Use AI software to streamline the resume screening process

Before you get buried in old-school paper resumes, digital files, or portfolios to sift through, there’s at least one more thing you can do to streamline the resume screening process.

Use AI. In most cases, the job search and application process starts online:

  • You post the job online. 
  • Candidates apply electronically and submit all the required documentation (e.g., resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc.)
  • Then you can use AI software, to help you filter out candidates that aren’t qualified, and even set parameters to build your shortlist. For example, the data that w collectfrom a candidate's profile is matched with the information you provide on your job creation and from your past behavior to stack rank candidates in order of relevancy. lso learns yor ideal candidate profile over time based on the candidates you skip, save, and message. Every time you take an action on a candidate, the system will know a little more about the candidates you prefer to engage with compared to ones you typically avoid. The more you use the system, the better it will get at showing you the perfect hires.

It’s especially effective if you do a lot of recruiting and need to sift through a high volume of resumes. If you manage your resume screening process like this, you’ll save time and find better candidates faster.

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