Four Things To Know to Beat The Resume Screening Process

By Jason Allaire on April 10, 2018

Before the interview, before the offer, before your new position comes the all-important resume.

While employers know that everything about your experience, abilities and company compatibility can't be demonstrated on just one sheet of paper, the resume is often seen as the starting point.

And, especially in cases where there may be a very high volume of application and resume submissions, the first glance at your resume or application may not even be by human eyes.

Automated resume screening has become a common practice in the initial rounds of hiring a new employee. It's the first step of getting your resume tossed to the side or being called in for a job interview.

This automated process has positive and negative aspects. While it saves time and money and increases efficiency, it also poses the risk of missing out on quality applicants whose resume may not have been 'just right.' Thankfully, there are things you can do to help get your resume and application through the automated screening and onto the next step in the process.

Here, we share what an automated resume screening process is and four things that you can do right now to help your resume reach the next level.

What is automated resume screening?

Male professional in business suit seated by a desk with a laptop

To make their hiring process more efficient, many companies use an automated applicant tracking system. In fact, according to a blog article from Workopolis in 2017, more than 60% of companies and organizations use an automated screening process of some sort.

These applicant tracking systems act as a pre-filter to sort out who has the basic requirements for the position and who doesn't. This helps save human resource managers a lot of time in having to sort through those clearly unqualified resumes themselves.

Most systems work by using a resume parser that segments your resume into various sections, according to Workopolis. The system then searches for keywords, relevant language, key phrases and evaluating the results. If the resume scores high enough based on its content, it may be passed on to be seen by a human reviewer.

According to an article from The Balance by Alison Doyle in February 2018, applicant tracking systems weed out about 70% of the resumes submitted for a position. That's a lot of resumes. To make sure your resume makes the cut, follow these four tips:

1) Get an Education

Perhaps most important, showing your education level is one of the primary key indicators of a quality candidate. If the position to which you're applying requires an associate or bachelor's degree, be sure to include that in your resume. If you don't mention your education and it's a requirement for the job, you'll most likely get screened out quickly.

If you haven't completed a degree, don't freak out. Returning to school to finally finish that degree can help you present yourself well on your resume and gain valuable practical experience to pursue your goals.

If you've just taken a few college courses, mention those. If you're currently working toward your degree, note that. Education requirements are often separated into a "yes" or "no"—be sure you're in the "yes."

2) Match Keywords

In an applicant tracking system, keywords matter. In fact, keywords are the pieces that contribute to your score that can help get you to the next step. To discover which words you should include, review the job description.

Make a list of the most common keywords listed in the job description, including what they may find most important and the more relevant skills necessary to fulfill the job duties. Then, review that list and use the exact words used in the description to include in your resume if they ring true for you.

When you include these keywords, make sure it's not just a bulleted list you've copied from the description. Weave your own style and personality when highlighting those keywords. Doyle from The Balance notes to, "incorporate as many of the keywords and phrases that you have identified in the job description as possible, though make sure your writing still sounds natural and reads well."

Keywords need context in your resume. Surround those keywords with your own voice.

3) Stay Relevant

Aerial view of a table surface with a laptop, individual's resume and a chart from a business report

With phrases such as, "to whom it may concern", "this particular organization" and "use my skills in this position," both the system and human reviewer can guess that you've just used the same resume for all your job applications. Using the same resume translates as boring and not interested in really chasing after the job.

You'll stay relevant when reviewing those keywords from the job application. Pay attention to the company culture and do some research before sending off you application and resume. Get a sense of what the employer is looking for specifically and know how you can fulfill that role.

Avoid those generic phrases and make each resume and application individual and personal to the goals and objectives of a particular job role. Doing so will show your interest and make it more likely to be moved onto a human reviewer.

3) Check for spelling and grammar

Reviewing your resume and application for spelling and grammar doesn't just make you able to communicate better. It can also help you get your resume on to the next level.

Having grammatical errors in your submissions can be a major red flag in the resume screening process. And there's an easy fix to it—edit and proofread. Triple check your language. Show it to a trusted mentor or friend to read over and offer advice. Don't miss out on a great job opportunity for misspelled words and missing commas.

4) Keep It Simple

If you're more of the creative type, it may be tempting to create a resume that's filled with images, colors, different fonts and a unique layout. There are industries, such as art and design, where this type of resume may be appropriate, especially if you're submitting a hard copy of your resume to the hiring manager. However, when it comes to applying online through an automated system, it's often best to keep it simple.

Elaborate graphics and extras may cause added issues that the automated applicant tracking system can't follow. Make sure the system is able to process your resume thoroughly by limiting those embellishments.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Business professionals shaking hands across a table

When you've mastered your resume with keywords, appropriate qualifications and proper grammar in an easy-to-read format, your next step is to get reviewed by someone in human services or involved in the hiring process.

Don't lose sight in the mechanics of following the automated system that you lose out on your personality and showing the hiring manager who you really are. When it comes to submitting online, know the practice of automated resume screening and use it to your advantage to get to human resources. Once you've sealed the deal for an interview, feel free to explore other options in ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd.

Category: Job Search