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5 reasons you should be using automated resume screening


Reading time: 11 min
Author: Viktor Nordmark

If you’re in recruitment or human resources, you’ll likely be familiar with the ongoing shift towards automated resume screening as part of the recruitment process. These tool, powered by AI technology, has grown into a substantial HR resource, and with good reason. Automated screening effectively frees up a big time-block in one neat, little package. In this article, we take a look at the top five reasons every recruiter should be implementing AI-driven screening into their hiring practices.

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How does automated resume screening work for the recruiter?

First though, let’s do a quick rundown of how automated resume screening works in practice, and particularly what the process looks like for you as the recruiter.

Step 1: Establish requirements and characteristics

High-performing AI technology is built to achieve one thing, which for this application is to find the perfect candidate matching the job description. Hopefully, the AI-system is pre-trained on past placements and knows what has been working out in the past for similar positions.

But every job and every workplace is unique, which is why it makes sense to be very detailed when setting up the parameters for the system. The extra work will show in the final results.

Effectively, this means that if your requirements are poorly formulated or unclear, the screening will suffer. When, on the other hand, the system is provided with clear-cut information, the chance of a strong shortlist improves considerably. For you, the recruiter, this stage means formulating a curated list of qualifications that corresponds with the business’ needs.

List of requirements

Step 2: Candidate pool resumes are uploaded

Once the screening system has sorted the foundational data, it’s ready to examine the candidate pool. And the AI is put to work doing what they do best: Look for patterns. Once you’ve told it what to look for, it’ll do exactly that. By combing through the text in each resume/CV you’ve received for your job listing, it effectively ranks and categorizes each candidate.

Because AI-powered systems are both powerful and automated, the initial sorting process is completed at lightning speed. For the recruiter, this step replaces the work task of meticulously going through each resume and evaluating it against the job ad and its requirements. More on how this makes for a fairer hiring process a little further down in the post.

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Step 3: Preparing a framework for interviewing/testing

During the first two steps of the screening process, the AI is collecting, analyzing and sorting data. Initially, it’s figuring out what the company needs. Then it looks at each candidate and to which extent their qualifications match the job profile/description. At the next stage, the system spits out suggestions on what data needs to be clarified.

This stage can take many different forms. It can either be achieved in a chatbot interview, a video interview or a traditional face-to-face interview. Or a combination of all of them. For the recruiter, this is probably the most interesting step of automated resume screening, because it takes a lot of routine, monotonous tasks off your plate.

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Step 4: Candidate shortlist forwarded to the recruiter

Finally, when the screening system has parsed, checked, checked again and analyzed, it’s ready to rank. The result of this is a ranked list of those candidates that best match the job requirements — a shortlist, if you will. It’s up to the recruiter how much time they’d like to spend looking at how the screening was conducted. The shortlist is intended as a helping tool — not a final decision on who gets included and excluded from the next stages of the hiring process.

crowd of candidates

So what does this mean in practice? Which recruiter problems does automated candidate screening actually solve?

1: Automated resume screening reduces time-to-fill

Time-to-fill is an incredibly important aspect of any recruiter’s day-to-day. It’s a KPI that impacts best practices, improvement initiatives, and often individual assessments within the company. Simply put: If you’re a recruiter, reducing your time-to-fill and getting the hire right is crucial.

Time pressure and quality don’t often find themselves hand-in-hand, though. If you want to be thorough, it takes time. If you want to be quick, it’s difficult to be thorough. And what could be more complicated to evaluate quickly and thoroughly than human beings?

In the SHRM Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report from 2017, the average time-to-fill out of the 864 samples analyzed was 36 days. Now, obviously recruiters don’t spend all that time screening. But it’s still a lot of time.

The average cost-per-hire was $4425, and divided by an average hourly of $21 for recruiters in the US that works out to 210 man-hours per position filled. This obviously includes interviews, correspondence and process facilitation, too. But the fact of the matter is that hiring, and hiring right, is an incredibly time-consuming endeavour.

timing resume screening

No matter how super-powered a recruiter is, he or she is still human. Faced with a pile of 50, 100, 300 applications, anyone would get tired. And in many ways, it’s at the early stages of screening where it’s actually most important to be thorough. What if the ideal candidate slips through the cracks because of a mistake? Misinterpretation of facts? Or because of time pressure?

AI-powered resume screening is the tool that gives recruiters their time back. The screening that manually took hours and hours is automated, meaning the person in charge of hiring reduces their time-to-fill, without reducing their quality of hire metric.

2: Separating qualified and unqualified applicants

And speaking of quality of hire. Deciding on which candidates to qualify and disqualify at the first screening stage of a hiring process becomes the foundation for who is eventually offered the job. That decision, in turn, will have an outcome that reflects on how well the recruiter did.

How long does the selected individual stay in their job? How happy are they? How much do they contribute to the business? So coming full circle, separating the qualified from the unqualified applicants early on can make or break the success of the hire. Screening with AI gives this process a serious boost.

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AIs are data super-readers. They can run multiple processes at the same time, and identify patterns invisible to humans in seconds. Lastly, an AI doesn’t care about anything other than what it’s been programmed to search for. Opponents argue that this takes away from the essential humanity required in human resources.

But as any recruiter can attest: Comprehensive evaluation is extremely time-consuming. It also slows down the screening which often needs to be approached almost clinically in the beginning.

Automated resume screening ensures a comprehensive and fair process for every applicant. Rather than be judged on subconscious bias from the recruiter, a machine simply extracts the relevant experience and education from each candidate, and ranks them in accordance to best match with the job description.

This certainly doesn’t mean that AI should substitute the human evaluation in the hiring process as a whole. But when it comes to early-stage screening, saving time without losing quality is a dream come true for recruiters worldwide. It means they can spend more time on tasks that require a human touch, and less on mundane checks and crosses off a list.

3: Automated resume screening forces you to elevate your HR practices

Good hiring is dependent on good HR practices. If the foundation is weak, the house won’t stand for long. Considering the long-term perspective of both hiring and job positions (some people might work in the same company for decades), it goes without saying that you should invest some time on that foundation.

Happy co-workers

The great thing about using artificial intelligence for candidate screening is that it keeps recruiters on point. How, you ask? Let's backtrack to the initial parsing, the first step in the screening process: the input on which all AIs depend in order to do their jobs.

How much time does your HR department spend on researching for and writing up really stellar job adverts and requirement specifications for every position? Do you know what the department that’s hiring needs in detail? Are you good at expressing it in precise terms? Do you have a checklist for how to formulate the company’s listings to a standard format?

Read through most job ads today, and the answer to these questions seems to almost always be no. They are riddled with unclear terminology, generalised statements, and unspecified qualifications. That might do for humans applying for the job. It won’t for the AI parsing your initial foundational screening data.

For automated screening to perform optimally, it must be based on good input. The specifications list is what will make for a successful process, in other words. In this sense, implementing AI as a recruitment tool for your business also elevates your general HR practices.

By requiring you to do the groundwork thoroughly, automated candidate screening forces you to think long-term about the business. Which specific qualities does the open position need? What kind of background should the ideal candidate have? Any particular personality traits that are necessary? Watertight data input for the AI = watertight hiring practices for the company.

Successful recruiter

4: Human-to-human interviews are made better

Hiring is very much like a funnel, fully integrated with flushing mechanisms at each step. It’s harsh, but it’s true. And ideally, both the selected candidate and the company hiring will have found their perfect match by the bottom. The thing about it, though, is that the narrower the funnel gets, the more time each step takes.

At least that’s how it should be. Think about it. If you’ve managed to shortlist five interesting candidates for a job, from a pool of tens or hundreds, don’t you want to spend as much time as possible on figuring out which one to hire? Once the hiring process has come this far, human-to-human interaction becomes essential.

That’s why automated candidate screening should be used as a tool that adds to the human aspect of hiring, not takes from it. And if the recruiter can skip the screening process altogether, that means they can spend that time on more meaningful, mindful and comprehensive human screening.

How often have you experienced being under-prepared for a Round 2 or Round 3 interview? Stressed because your time-to-fill was drawing out? Worried because you discovered in the interview that initial screening of this candidate hadn’t been thorough enough? Candidates that make the shortlist cut should be given a chance to shine — and recruiters interviewing them should have enough time to facilitate a good interview.

By letting artificial intelligence take over the initial candidate screening, the recruiter can:

  • Spend more time getting to know the shortlisted candidates well
  • Set up individual interview structures to best get to know each applicant
  • Have more time to actually conduct the human-to-human interviews
  • Analyze the interview in more detail post-conversation
  • Decide to interview a longer shortlist — or do call-backs for a select few candidates

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5: Automated resume screening = a growing applicant pool

Recruitment is about networking — and today, when the ideal candidate could be sitting in the next-door office as well as on the other side of the globe networking is more important than ever. Although the Internet has given recruiters access to a growing applicant pool, finding candidates that have the necessary skills for open job posts is becoming harder.

Attracting them is also proving difficult, as businesses globally compete for the best employees. Building employer brand as well as implementing passive talent sourcing are becoming standard methods to get high-quality applicants knocking at the door.

Another key component of finding that perfect employee is obviously keeping track of past and present candidates. Perhaps John, who was the runner up for a job three years ago would be the ideal match for a position you have out today. Automated resume screening is a great tool for curating a strong applicant pool.

It would be a waste of resources if all the people who were shortlisted through the years were flushed out without a trace from your recruitment funnel. These are all potential candidates for upcoming jobs. Now, imagine having an updated database of them all easily accessible at your fingertips.

Candidates all over the world

We already mentioned that AI has the capacity to run several processes at once. Parallel to seeking out the ideal candidate, it also automatically compiles and analyzes the data from every single resume. And it does that every time you ask it to run through this process.

Long-term, this means that automated candidate screening gives you the option to compile individuals suited for future jobs. The AI can even cross-check them for you, against qualifications for listings down the line. Which, once again, can save recruiters a whole lot of time.

Some ways automated resume screening can be applied

So there you have it. Those are the five biggest reasons you should be thinking of automating your resume screening. Remember that this process can be as complex or simple as you’d like it to be. Whether you’re in a small or big business doesn’t really matter. If your department is struggling with time-to-fill or wants to cut back on time spent at the early stages of the hiring process, automation is a powerful tool.

Big business applications

Automated resume screening is being implemented in a big way across a range of sectors and industries. In a big business, it would be most beneficial for recruiters to sift through the large numbers of resumes that job listings typically receive. This is particularly the case for brands that attract many applicants. Furthermore, in big business, HR consumes a considerable amount of resources. With early-stage screening automation, this can be cut back and so reduce costs.

Big Business

Small business applications

Small businesses aren’t exempt from receiving large bulks of applications for vacant positions. In this context though, automated candidate screening might do the most good when it’s applied for rigorous background-checking and testing. In small businesses, the HR department is usually small, and so time is precious. Additionally, the AI can provide the team with objective evaluations to underpin in-person interviews.

Basic screening options

AI-powered systems perform the tasks they’re programmed to do. They can screen for single qualifications only, like the level of education or work experience in each applicant or sift out candidates that live more than an hour’s drive away from the office. As a recruiter, it’s important to know that you can and should use automated resume screening the way it helps you best. If that’s in small components, that’s how it should be implemented in your day-to-day.

Comprehensive screening options

But this technology is also popular because it handles complex and sophisticated problems and can complete several stages of the hiring process on its own. That’s why businesses are choosing to extend AI resume screening with other artificially intelligent applications for more in-depth screening. Chatbot interviews are growing increasingly advanced; video interviews powered by AI is a reality for companies all over the globe. If you see an opportunity within increased quality of hire and time-to-fill metrics with a more comprehensive application, that’s possible too.

All in all, non-human screening options are built to enhance the human aspects of the hiring process. As a recruiter, that means you get to spend more time doing the tasks you love.


2020-04-22 10:57