The Ultimate Guide To Resume Screening

Resume screening is the first level of filtering the applicants to determine their candidacy for any open role.

It remains one of the most time-consuming parts of the hiring process. However, learning how to do it right will allow you to save time and money later on, as it prevents needless interviews and bad hires. 

This article will guide you through the steps you need to overtake when doing a resume screening and the things to watch out for to conduct it successfully. 

After reading it you will be able to efficiently and effectively screen resumes to make sure you hire the right person for the role.

Let’s get started. 

What is resume screening and why is it important?

Resume screening is the process of determining whether a candidate is qualified for a job, based on education, experience, and other information captured on their resume.

A job opening receives 250 resumes on average and 75% to 88% of them are unqualified. So, it’s no wonder the majority of talent acquisition leaders still find that the hardest part of recruitment is screening the right candidates from a large applicant pool.

Here’s the MO of the average recruiter: 

  • find the resume online or via email, 
  • open it and review it
  • evaluate the applicant’s qualifications
  • make follow up notes to remember why they chose one candidate’s resume over another. 

In my experience, that takes about 15 minutes per candidate, and much longer if you need to verify previous experience and recommendations. 

The time spent on screening resumes often becomes the biggest bottleneck that impedes interview quality and prospect experience. Given that statistically, quality talent remains on the job market no longer than 10 days, it’s a problem that needs a swift solution.

There are two main issues that recruiters face when resume screening: 

Volume Control

Volume is certainly the biggest hurdle you will encounter when resume screening. With the numbers we stated previously (250 resumes and 15 minutes per candidate), a recruiter will spend more than 30 hours screening resumes just for one job posting. 

Quality Control

More than 80% of applicants are considered unqualified for a job position. Candidates can be creative when filling up their CV, sometimes circumventing first-round screenings. 

In some cases, resumes may contain subtle warning signs of potential problems that you may want to follow up on with the candidate. Some of these red flags may outweigh a candidate’s otherwise perfect fit or abilities and experience for the job.

That said, these problems have their solutions, and some might be easier than expected. Let’s check them out. 

Use an automated resume screening platform

The best solution to the application volume problem is an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) like the one provides. An ATS is a must-have software for recruitment and talent acquisition departments because it organizes all the resumes received for each role.

This type of screening relies on AI and keyword matching for the given position. Through an ATS, you can manage the recruitment process end-to-end starting with recruiting functions that keep track of open jobs, job descriptions, and jobs that have been posted.

These platforms can cut down the initial screening time by over 90%, letting recruiters focus on more important aspects of the process, like quality interviews, and culture fitting for the applicants. 

However, ATS is not fully flawless. They can, for example: 

  • screen-in a candidate as a false positive based on keyword manipulation or 
  • screen out a candidate as a false negative because he or she doesn’t meet the keyword filters but has strong qualifications otherwise.

Furthermore, once the first filter has been passed, there are still some aspects that will require manual screening. Let’s see how you can detect them for better quality candidate selection. 

Scan For Job-Hopping

Job-hopping is more common these days and is really something employers have become accustomed to. Despite this, too many employers in a short period could signal a lack of commitment or behavioral concerns. 

The hiring process is costly, and you want to make sure you’re investing in long-term talent. Use your discretion to decide whether or not to follow up with the candidate to learn more about their employment history.

Unexplained employment gaps

As you’re reviewing an applicant’s work history, look out for long breaks between jobs. While there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation, such as starting a family, graduate studies, or pieces of training. 

That said, the serious candidates should be prepared and willing to explain these gaps in an interview and may even hint toward reasoning within the resume.

Career development

Along with understanding employee loyalty, you want to know how candidates will grow within your company. Be cautious with candidates who highlight successes that don’t translate to your market, and try to learn more about how their career progression could help in this role.

Scan for achievements and notable growth in their previous role. Have they made an active effort to learn more about the field, and if so, how might this translate to your company?

Check For Cultural Fit

As we’ve previously analyzed, having a good cultural fit within the company is one of the best ways toward good employee engagement and retention. These are characteristics that are difficult to assess through an automatic resume screening platform, and even experienced recruiters have a hard time filtering for a good company culture fit.  

Nevertheless, it’s important to gauge whether a candidate will be happy at your company. You can, for example, scan their resume for any hobbies or interests which could mesh well with the team. Also, keywords like communication, leadership, and teamwork can be a good tell if an employee will be willing to fit in.


To summarize, we pointed out how time-consuming and costly resume screening can be. The main issues that recruiters are facing are the volume and quality of resumes.

There’s increased pressure to hire quality personnel, but if you are lacking the tools, your HR departments will only be met with frustration. 

To address these issues, companies should look into AI solutions like the ones offered by RecruitMe. They manage to cut screening length considerably and thanks to this, allow recruiters to focus on more important tasks that help them hire the best people for the job.