Improve Your Hiring Results… Tweak Your Resume Screening Process, So It’s More Objective

Not getting great hires? Look no further than letting your recruiters/managers develop their own whimsical resume screening process. In many cases, these unstructured and undocumented resume screening processes produce the most damage to your hiring results of any screening step. That resulting hiring damage is so severe because there are no “do-overs” in resume screening. Once an applicant is rejected, you’ll never know that you had an “Einstein level applicant” that gets permanently screened out for no other reason than your screeners whimsically didn’t like even one inconsequential thing. Such as the resume format or length or the spelling and grammar. The simple solution at this hiring stage is to design and require every human screener to use an objective screening process that forces screeners to restrict their screening to the listed objective hiring criteria.

The Many Problems With Most Resume Screening Process

After your recruiters are provided with the initial ATS resume dump,  recruiting leaders should closely examine the follow-up human-driven processes that their recruiters and hiring managers use to screen in and screen out resumes for the initial interview slate. Most of these processes are flawed for one or more of the following reasons.

  • The consequences of a screening error could mean permanent rejection – suppose an applicant is screened out of the interview slate for a subjective reason not related to the job qualifications. In that case, you will never know how good they could have been because there is no process for revisiting screened-out resumes.
  • The process used is not consistent – there is normally no formal step-by-step process for everyone to follow. And the ad hoc screening process developed by most individuals won’t be reliable because it will vary between screeners.
  • Nonjob-related criteria are used – because the screening process is ad hoc and personalized. Many of the screening criteria used will be subjective and non-qualification related, while others may reflect unconscious biases. Problems can arise if there is an EEOC issue involved.
  • No documentation of the process used – there is no transparency in the resume screening process. So, no record of specifically which factors were used in screening out a resume. Especially those factors involving unconscious biases or nonjob qualification-related reasons.
  • No testing for accuracy – the individual screening processes are not pretested for validation or consistency. After the hire, there is no assessment to assure that the hired candidate has the job requirements. And that over time, those job requirements led to a good performing hire. 

8 Recommended Action Steps For Creating An Objective Resume Screening Process

There are eight steps in tweaking most resume screening processes. They include:

  1. A mindset change is required –– rather than asking screeners to merely “go through the resumes and seeing if there are any candidates you like.” The goal is replaced by “scientifically and objectively screening the candidates so that you identify the ones that have the stated qualifications.” The mindset of everyone involved must change to understand the seriousness and the impact of the resume screening process.
  2. The approved screening process is universally used – an objective, standardized process is developed and then used by all to increase consistency so each of the screened-in candidates will have the required job qualifications. The result is a hire that is likely to perform at an above-average level on the job.
  3. Job postings focus on the required job qualifications – recruiting ensures that the job announcement reiterates the need for every applicant to have each of the specified job qualifications. In addition, applicants are proactively encouraged to specifically address each one of the specified qualifications in their resume.
  4. Assess resumes using an objective checklist – assessing every received application against an approved assessment checklist specific for each job. The checklist only allows for the assessment of job qualification factors. Point deductions and rejections for any additional reason are not possible because of the structure of the form.
  5. Allocate sufficient time – rushing through resumes is unfortunately quite common and damaging. Require setting aside a sufficient amount of focused and uninterrupted time for the initial resume screening (at least one minute on qualified ones).
  6. Use redaction – whenever possible, electronically redacted information from the resume that is not job-related to reduce biasing factors to impact the resume assessment (the name, your relevant educational data, age, hobbies, etc.).
  7. A second independent assessment is required – rather than relying on the screening judgment of a single individual. Two independent assessments must be completed before any resume rejections are made. The second person is usually the hiring manager or a volunteer technical person from the department. The two independent assessors are not allowed to interact until after their assessment is completed.
  8. Postpone the assessments of any subjective factors – initially, assessors are not allowed to reject or assign lower resume ratings to any factor that is not a specific job qualification. Later on, some subjective assessments can be allowed. However, they must be delayed until after the initial telephone interviews are completed. Delaying subjective assessments like fit, resume style issues, personal knockout factors, or being overqualified must be postponed until the initial interview slate has been selected.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, most recruiters and hiring managers spend little time critiquing and improving their resume screening process. However, that is a huge mistake because, at large corporations, policy screening processes may be costing you millions of dollars. The processes prematurely and permanently screen out fully qualified candidates that have violated some minor subjective rule that the individual screener arbitrarily added. Instead, what is needed is a universally used objective process that makes it difficult to reject candidates on any factor that’s not the specified job requirement. 

Author’s Note 

  • This article was designed to make you rethink a relatively obscure management area. And if it succeeded, please help others by sharing it widely among your team and network.
  • Next, please join the many thousands that have connected with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn. After following core connecting, you can leave and read comments on this article on his page. 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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