Automated resume screening systems are currently in use at almost every large company in the world. With the economy on an upturn, employers are on track to start recruiting in larger numbers. And in order to keep up with the demand, automated resume screening systems are becoming almost a necessity in today’s workplace. The only problem with this type of screening is that some good candidates get left behind, and a lot of job-seekers think it’s unfair that companies are turning them down without even looking at their applications.

The humble beginnings of automated resume screening software were simply to help recruiters keep track of candidates through the entire hiring process. However, it has developed into more of a full-time receptionist that tracks keywords, years of experience, interests, and other types of candidate traits to help weed out 98% of applicants before they even hit the recruiter’s desk.

The pros and cons of automated resume screeners could be argued for days, but in the interest of brevity we’ve come up with the top three pros and cons of using this type of screening process. Although in many cases it’s a necessity, it sometimes means that candidates don’t get a fair shot if they’re not writing their resume specifically to be optimized for this kind of software.

TOP 3 PROS:

  • Time is money, and automated resume screen systems give you just that: time. Anyone who talks about the pros and cons of automated resume screen systems will tell you that this the major benefit of using this type of software. Companies like Wal-Mart and Starbucks receive millions of applications a year, and there is simply not enough time for their HR teams to go through all of those resumes.
  • Another major benefit of using this type of software is that it allows you to find the best candidates in your applicant pool a lot quicker. Just think: if you had even a hundred resumes for one job req, it would take you a good day to sort through all of those resumes to narrow it down to 10-15. When recruiters are balancing many reqs at a time, their job would be impossible without this type of software. Finding that applicant more quickly means you can contact him or her before your competitor does.
  • Algorithims can be smarter than humans. There, I said it. Sometimes machines can process applications better then a recruiter who’s reading over a hundred resumes a day. When you rely on algorithms to help process applications, you’re not only saving time (yes, I said it again), but you’re making fewer mistakes.

TOP 3 CONS:

  • One of the biggest issues with using automated resume screeners is the perceived black hole that all resumes are thrown into when a candidate applies for a job. The black hole is a real thing, and if you want to build an employer brand that candidates feel comfortable applying to, you’ll need to mitigate it.
  • Automated resume screening software is just that—automated. It doesn’t have the ability to perceive that a candidate may be a diamond in the rough, someone you might be able to develop into a stellar candidate. They look only at the elements that are easily measurable like book smarts, and not at the qualities needed for someone who will fit perfectly into your company. These systems can do a lot of work for the recruiter, but there is also a level of error that occurs, so you may miss out on an exceptional candidate because the computer doesn’t like him or her.
  • When using automated resume screening, there is a good chance that some people will basically cheat the system. Some recruiters and consultants understand the mechanics behind how these software programs work and how to tailor a resume for them. With this type of knowledge, not only are these consultants making a lot of money, but they’re giving candidates who hire them an advantage in being selected for their next job. So whatever the system tells you, you need to verify it at the interview stage.

Automated resume screening systems are used for a reason. The major benefit of using them is the time and energy saved when considering the millions of resumes some companies receive. Yes, there are some negatives, but they are usually considered worth the risk. But since each company is unique, you’ll need to decide what’s best for your company in the long run.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

3 Comments

  • Avatar Ashlie Dawson says:

    I think the best way to counter the shortcomings of the automated resume screening system is to first send all the resumes through the system, and then allow those in charge of recruitment to manually review all documents. I know that this may seem like a waste of time and energy, but it can prevent such cases where good candidates are lost, especially since there are some people who know the key points of the system and are able to pass the pre-selection without being suitable for the job.

  • Avatar Edith S. says:

    I really liked your article and especially the way you addressed this topic. However, as a recruiter, I consider it necessary that we adapt to arising situations and not rush to simply apply an algorithm. I guess you have encountered situations in which this system of selecting candidates proved to be a little useful. I think that every company should decide how it selects the candidates according to the needs of the moment.

  • Avatar Holli Evans says:

    Because of the resume automated screening system, candidates may have the opportunity to be employed only if they optimize their resumes for this type of screening. But most of the time, a candidate applying for a job does not make a resume for each job; he or she prefers to send the same document to each company. Designing a special resume for each job and to add keywords for the automated screening systems can be quite difficult.

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