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The Problem with Resume Screening – and How You Can Fix It

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Resume screening has long been at the core of candidate recruiting. And why not? The goal is to narrow down huge piles of resumes to help hiring managers shortlist the cream of the crop before moving onto interviews.

But … resume screening only works if the process itself is not fundamentally flawed. Get it right, and your hiring team is well on the way to a successful decision. But miss something important or rely too strongly on it, and they may end up interviewing or worse yet, hiring the wrong people.

  • You don’t want to miss the hidden gems. These are the good candidates – maybe even the best ones for a role – whose resumes are screened out even before they get a chance to reach the next level. Maybe they didn’t go to the best school, or get the highest grades, or work at a company with an internationally-known logo. Spoiler alert: These “pedigree proxies” are not necessarily indicative of good job performance.

The Diagnoses – and the Cure

Resume screening involves inherent shortfalls because it tries to match resumes to job descriptions and then identify preferred candidates who look like they would be a suitable fit. But:

Resumes don’t always accurately predict performance.

Candidates use resumes to outline their education, experience, skillset, and statistics to showcase their accomplishments. But ultimately, a resume only provides background, which isn’t always enough to make a good decision.

Resumes can perpetuate bias.

Most resumes include at least some information that can lead to bias – however unconscious – on the part of the reviewer. For instance, a candidate is female, or has a difficult-to-pronounce name, or attended a university that is not well known. Ideally, readers should disregard details that may cloud their judgment like this, but it’s simply not that … well, simple. Bias can happen even when resumes are approached with the best of intentions.

Automated screening processes may skip top candidates.

The basic problem with automated resume screening is that it screens people out rather than in. A highly qualified candidate may be eliminated because they failed to include a keyword or two. Or, the screening software may simply have misread their resume. Its sorting algorithm may even be biased based on false assumptions, such as that academic background is a fail-safe predictor of future job performance.

A viable fix?

View resume screening as only one tool in your hiring toolbox. Augment it with interviews, reference and background checks, and other tactics, including skills testing. Don’t cut corners, and don’t stop digging until you reach a decision point based on total comfort and confidence. Sure, you can’t afford to waste time. But a hiring mistake is even worse.

  • Remove all potentially biasing information from your resume screening and hiring process.

Partner with Search Wizards

Building your resume? Building your career? With your eye on the prize, consider partnering with Search Wizards. We represent only recruiting and sourcing talent, so we can place you in the best professional environment to showcase your strengths and build your future. Give us a shout today so we can tell you more.



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