Is Screening Job Applicant Resumes For Keywords Fair To Applicants?

Hardly a week goes by where the issue of screening job applicant resumes for keywords isn’t raised by a potential customer, one of their applicants, or in an article somewhere. Depending upon which side of the fence you reside, the answer typically can vary quite a bit.

The Employer Perspective

Usually when it comes up from a customer’s perspective, it’s not so much a question of whether this approach is fair. Employers and their recruiting/hiring teams tend to feel bombarded by resumes on a daily basis. Even when hiring volume is reasonable, it may not be practical to physically review every resume that comes in the door. For these employers, having the ability to use automation of any kind to ease this burden is attractive.

With that, when a vendor offers them an affordable piece of technology that will screen resumes for keywords and then “rank” those applicants accordingly, it’s hard to say no. Again, this isn’t some malicious effort to exclude applicants or take the human element out of the hiring process. Instead, it’s simply a way to target the perceived “better candidates” much more quickly and easily. When you look at it from this perspective, it’s easy to see why these types of solutions have gained so much traction over the past few years.

The Applicant Perspective

Now, if you’re an applicant in this type of environment, it’s a much different story. To some degree, putting together a resume has become somewhat of an arms race. Since it’s much less common for a human set of eyes to screen that resume initially, many applicants are frustrated that their experiences and unique traits are disregarded.

To offset this, many are finding that they must revamp their resumes to adopt a more strategic keyword approach for certain positions they’re seeking. Along those same lines, there are individuals and organizations who specialize (for a fee) in helping optimize your resume for keyword search purposes.

In my role, I have the advantage to look at this in a much more neutral fashion. When I step back and think about this, it leads me to one significant, overriding question…

Are you really getting the best applicants?

This is important to both parties in the equation. Employers don’t want to spend the time and money hiring someone to have them fail. Applicants don’t want to take a new role and find that it isn’t the fit they hoped it would be.

The Best of Both Worlds

Here at ExactHire, we feel strongly that our applicant tracking software tool can bridge this gap to the benefit of both parties. Instead of relying so heavily on keywords, our suggestion is to get more relevant information from applicants when they submit their resume.

Regardless of how much or little data our clients choose to gather in the initial stage of the application process, we strongly advocate the use of job-specific screening questions. These questions may be developed by each client for any given position or set of positions. In short, that means the employer is asking about key things that are especially relevant to their organization and the particular job for which applicants are applying.

Additionally, the responses applicants submit to these questions may be scored by the employer. Again, the scoring is based on whatever parameters each employer chooses. In turn, this provides the automation so many employers are seeking to help streamline the process. Just as importantly, the employers are now screening applicants with more reliable data — leading to better quality of applicants.

However, the applicants benefit as well. They’re now given the opportunity to share their experiences and values in a more objective environment. Instead of being ranked by the keywords in their resume, they’re allowed to complete the equivalent of a mini-first interview as part of the application process. This helps them feel that they’ve been treated more fairly.

If you’re interested in learning more about how ExactHire applicant tracking software can improve the efficiency and results of your hiring process, please visit our resources section or contact us today!

Comments are closed.