Why You Should Stop Using Automatic Resume Screening Software (And What to Use Instead)

Have you ever found a candidate with a perfect resume, but once you interview them you realize they aren't that great? If that's the case, the problem might lie in your automatic resume screening software.

Resume screening software is growing in popularity, but it doesn’t always deliver on its promises.

Going through resumes takes a lot of time, especially when you are dealing with hundreds of candidates. AI seemed to be the solution to getting the important data without actually reading each and every resume.

However, somewhere along the way, it failed to make the hiring process cheaper or faster. 

A screening software looks for keywords in resumes and ranks the keywords based on your preferences. 

Resume keyword screening might save employers time, but it is often inaccurate because many people are aware of how these software work, and they exploit it.

Let’s take Bob, for example. He knows that in order to be considered for a job, he might have to insert certain keywords that are mentioned in the job ad just to appeal to the algorithm. Worse, he might not even write his own resume. Instead, he might hire someone who writes resumes for a living.

According to a Career Builder survey, lying on a resume happens more often than you may think. Over 75% of the HR managers detected lies on resumes. These stats are problematic because the entire pre-qualifying process is usually based on the content of one document.

Of course, not everyone is as informed as Bob. Jane, for example, might be a better fit for your position but chooses to use her own words to describe her experience. 

Unfortunately, her resume might not be considered a good fit by the software.


How candidates can trick a resume screening software

Many books and articles are written to educate HR workers to spot lies on resumes. But if this is the case, why do we still use them to prequalify workers?

Job boards such as Monster educate their users on how to use keywords to optimize their resumes for resume screening software.

While the article itself is not harmful, the fact remains the same: some candidates might be aware of its existence while others who might be the perfect hire miss the mark simply because their resumes aren’t “optimized.”

This raises a few questions about not only resume screening software but also how inefficient resumes are when it comes to determining the right candidate. In the end, the people who know what keywords need to be used are the ones who will always take the job.

As a consequence, you probably won’t find the best fit for your position by using a resume screening software. Instead, you’re just screening for candidates who are aware of how the process works.


3 ways resumes aren’t telling us what we need to know

Not hiring based on a resume might sound like a dangerous move. However, a resume doesn’t reveal that much.

Perhaps it’s not resume screening software to blame but what it analyzes.

Resumes are so ingrained in our culture that it seems impossible for us to find a better way to figure out whether a candidate is a good fit. After all, this document was used for over 500 years to apply for jobs.

Here are our 3 reasons why resumes sometimes miss the mark.


1. Resumes are subjective descriptions of work experience and education

In the end, a resume is a biased version of the truth that outlines a timeline of the candidate’s education, certifications, and work experience. It doesn’t say anything about the quality of their work, their level of proficiency, and why the candidate is seeking a new job.

Many job seekers include half-truths and exaggerations in their resumes, but they aren’t the only one to blame. If they would share uncomfortable truths, it would look unprofessional.

Even during interviews, the candidate knows that when they are asked about their biggest weakness, they have to give truth a makeover.

While you may argue that experience does say something, in many cases it doesn’t.

Let’s look at Bob again. Maybe he is not that great of a salesman, but he knows someone within the company who can get him a job. He gets the job, and while he doesn’t excel, he manages to keep it for 5 years.

In comparison, Angelina is an excellent salesman, but due to a tragic event in her life (the death of her spouse), she is forced to retire temporarily from the workforce and focus on raising her children.

On a resume, what Angelina did looks like an uncomfortable gap, whereas Bob seems to be a better fit due to the fact he held on to his job for so long. But without testing their skills, you can’t really tell who is better at their job.

There are many workers who don’t do a good job yet keep their job for years. 

A resume doesn’t say much about the knowledge, skills, or character of the candidate. Instead, it focuses on their experience, education, and the gaps between jobs.

We all know at least one person who got a position through connections and not because they deserved it, or maybe someone who used to be really good at what they did but had to quit their job to focus on family issues.

These are the details that aren’t visible on a resume, yet the worker who got to keep the job despite not deserving it will most likely have a better shot at getting the next one as well, while the widower will be passed over.


2. The information on a resume is hard to verify

A candidate might state they have certain skills or accomplishments, but a resume is not an official document.

The data can’t be verified unless you take your time to do some research and call their previous employers.

Eric Elliot, the co-founder of DevAnywhere.io and the author of Programming JavaScript Applications, shared his experience with hiring based on resumes on Medium.

He starts off by saying that most of the candidates he interviewed had decent resumes and even performed well on their interviews as well. But when it came to actual work, they couldn't code the simplest thing.

“Just because somebody worked for Google doesn’t mean they wrote good code for Google. Maybe they served on the QA team, or maybe they lied about working for Google? Whatever the case, skipping code tests is a bad idea.”


3. Resume writing is a time waster for candidates

Personalized resumes take time to write. But  a resume isn’t personalized, it won’t pass through the resume screening software.

This means that by default the barrier entry is higher simply because applicants need to craft a new resume for each job they apply to, which they rarely do.

When you apply to over 20 openings, it’s harder to stay glued to your computer for hours crafting a new resume for each opening.

As a consequence, you might be missing out on a great candidate just because their resume doesn’t use the verbiage in the job ad or the right keywords. Without knowing, companies ask both time and effort from candidates with no guarantee that the hours they spend writing will pay off.

To make matters worse, many job seekers hire resume writers. In the end, you aren’t even hiring based on their resume writing skills.


Why replace resumes with skills tests?

This may like a revolutionary idea, but it really isn’t.

Big companies have been using tests to determine if they should go forward with a candidate in the past as well.

The goal of skills tests is to both save time and eliminate candidates that you otherwise wouldn’t spot.

Maybe you wouldn’t hire someone without a degree despite having the skills. But a skills test will remove this bias and show you who truly has the potential to be the best candidate for the job.

Toggl is been hiring remotely by creating skills tests for a while now. The company was looking for workers from all over the world. They wanted to bring the best to their team, but they also faced the challenge of having to deal with a lot of candidates who weren’t qualified.

They relied on actual skills by creating personalized tests instead of using a resume screening software.

The result? They didn’t waste any time on the wrong people (see the case study here).

If you aren’t convinced, take a look at some of the ways skill tests makes the process faster and more pain-free both for the employer and candidates.


1. Human bias is eliminated

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges when hiring using resumes is ourselves and the way we identify with the candidate. We are drawn to people who have a similar background to us, or by people we aspire to be.

Let’s take, for example, a recent Ivy League graduate with the perfect GPA coming from one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Many candidates like this would be hired on the spot just because of their diploma. The problem with this approach is that the educational system not only rewards high achievers and skilled individuals but also those who can afford to pay tuition for a prestigious university.

You might end up missing out on a more qualified candidate who couldn’t afford to go to Yale.

Read on: Why the Ivy League Poster Boy May Not Be Your Ideal Candidate


2. You have a larger pool to choose from

When screening resumes, a large pool of candidates can cause a headache. But skill tests make it easier to filter the good from the bad right away. Why? 

Skills tests will tell you from the start who has the minimum requirements needed for the job after reviewing the results of the test.

Constantly tweaking cover letters and resumes discourages many potential candidates, but a short test is much more appealing. 

Read on: Struggling to Find Strong Job Applicants? Here's Why


3. It saves time

A hiring case study done by Hundred5 shows that starting the hiring process with short skills tests cut the overall hiring process by 50%.

Schedugram, a leading social media scheduler, hires remotely from all over the world. Their job openings attract hundreds of candidates, which slows down the hiring process.

In the past, looking at Linkedin profiles, running background checks, and reading resumes took them weeks. They could’ve used a resume screening software but chose not to because, in the end, they wanted a more accurate tool to filter out the good from the bad.

Dunja Lazic, the VP of marketing, shares her experience with skills test:

“In just a day, we had over 75 candidates, and 3 of those were already marked as ‘potential hires’. It's a great feeling knowing I didn't have to go through 70+ resumes to find the perfect candidate.”

Find the full case study here: Schedugram screens candidates 80% faster with Hundred5

Summary

The best way to find out what each one of the candidates has to offer is to test them.

Of course, resumes can shed some light on the qualifications and the potential of a candidate. But often times merely keeping a job for a long period of time doesn’t mean you excelled at it. The same concept applies to a diploma from a prestigious university.

The best way to make an unbiased, fast hire is to weed out the good from the bad by going straight to the point - by testing their skills.

Resume screening software might help when dealing with large amounts of data, but it fails to dig for real skills, only keywords and well-crafted resumes.

At the end of the day, you need people who can get the job done, not candidates who are good at writing resumes or hiring someone to do so in their place.

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