CV shortlisting challenges

Recruiting is a complex process, now more than ever. With an overflux of candidates, it can be overwhelming to try and parse out the best-fit candidates. That’s why CV parsing is so essential.

The world of CV shortlisting is evolving rapidly with new technology like AI, making it easier for recruiters to easily filter out candidates who don’t match the job criteria.

If HR doesn’t strategically approach the shortlisting process and conduct CV screens effectively, you can risk losing out on top talent and increasing time-to-fill. Here are the challenges recruiters may face in resume shortlisting, and how to overcome them.

What is CV shortlisting?

CV shortlisting – also known as resume parsing or CV parsing – is the process of choosing top applicants from a pool of potential candidates, based on the contents of their resume or CV.

It is a key part of the recruitment process because it helps narrow down the applicant list to those who have the minimum qualifications and relevant skills. It can help optimize the recruitment process by saving time for recruiters, establishing consistency in how candidates are assessed, and providing a cost-efficient way to tackle a large candidate pool.

Here’s how the CV shortlisting process generally works:

  • Establish criteria: The hiring team should establish criteria and metrics to assess CVs with, such as years of experience, skills, and education.
  • Screen resumes: Using those criteria, recruiters will then scan resumes or CVs – either using technology or manually – for the predefined criteria. Depending on specific roles and organizations, some recruiters may be more or less strict when it comes to how closely CVs must align with criteria. The applicants who don’t meet the criteria are filtered out.
  • Rank resume: Some Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) will rank resumes based on how closely applicants match the criteria.
  • Create a shortlist: From there, a shortlist is created, allowing recruiters to analyze resumes more closely from a more targeted, qualified group of applicants. Applicable next steps, such as assessments or interviews, are then followed.

Challenges for HR and how to overcome them

Sounds like a streamlined process, right? It is, but it doesn’t come without its roadblocks. Like any other HR or recruitment process, there are some challenges and drawbacks that come with CV shortlisting.

Here are 5 challenges of CV shortlisting, and tips for how to overcome them.

1. Manual CV reviews

The challenge: Reading, comparing, evaluating and shortlisting CVs manually can take a significant amount of time and effort – and it’s only the first step of the recruiting process.

Manual reviews aren’t just time-sucking – they can be dangerous. Relying on recruiters to look over hundreds of CVs without missing qualified applicants or shortlisting unqualified candidates by mistake can cause more problems down the road.

The solution: Embrace emerging technology and automation to help reduce the workload on recruiters. Many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) automatically parse CVs based on parameters and keywords that recruiters can input, taking all of the manual work out of it.

Once CVs are parsed, recruiters can add an extra layer of “protection” by administering skill assessments to verify a candidate’s skills and abilities. Skills like customer service may not be able to be determined from a CV alone, but an assessment can help demonstrate real-life skills. CVs also can’t discern certain interpersonal skills and communication like an interview can.

Although this won’t help candidates who have been filtered out already, it can help identify any candidates that look good on paper but may not be the right match.

2. Candidate misrepresentation

The challenge: Some candidates intentionally misrepresent themselves on their CV. AI programs and resume software can optimize resumes so they include necessary keywords to rank high in an ATS – even if their actual qualifications don’t match. Other candidates straight-out lie about their qualifications. In fact, 3 in 5 candidates admitted to lying on their resume, according to a survey from StandOut CV.

Solution: If you have misgivings about whether a candidate is truly the right match or not, try verifying their skills with assessments or skills tests. Another confirmation, other than their CV, that they’re a good fit can help ensure no time is wasted.

3. Room for bias

The challenge: Manual resume screening can leave room for unconscious bias, leading recruiters to overlook qualified candidates due to bias. Even more dangerously, recruiters are typically unaware of this bias, so there is no chance to correct it.

Bias can pop up in many instances that go beyond race or gender. For example, older candidates get 68% fewer responses than younger candidates, according to research from the University of Chicago.

The solution: Tech like ATS software can reduce human bias because the system only analyzes relevant information, like designated keywords, and therefore don’t have the same potential for bias related to candidate information like name or location.

AI is not free of bias. Because AI is trained on human data, it carries over some of those human biases. Do not use AI for recruitment without double-checking its output.

Another solution is blind hiring, which removes personal information from a candidate’s resume to reduce bias. Zippia found that over 50% of hiring managers support blind hiring to reduce bias in hiring.

4. Inconsistent formatting

The challenge: Resume etiquette has changed since the introduction of resume screening software; it’s now the norm to have a standardized, simple CV. However, not everyone follows the standard processes and adds creative elements to resumes, which can make it more difficult for an ATS or resume parsing software to read.

The solution: Balance the use of tech with human helpers. Simply discarding resumes that don’t follow the standard rules might mean overlooking an applicant who has all the necessary qualifications. Use software to parse the bulk of CVs, but have someone manually review flagged resumes that can’t be read.

5. Industry-specific roadblocks

The challenge: Many challenges come with CV parsing that are less universal, but still have significant impacts on certain industries like:

  • International: For international recruitment, verifying qualifications and work experience can be complex and time-consuming, and candidates can be judged based on cultural differences between the employer and the candidate.
  • Start-ups: Roles and responsibilities are not as standardized in these industries and can therefore make it harder to assess previous work experience.
  • High-risk: Industries like finance, government, and healthcare may require more work than other industries to verify information like certifications.

The solution: Adapt solutions to individual business needs and consider investing in an ATS or other recruitment software that is customized to your industry, or one that has plenty of customization options.

Best practices for CV shortlisting

CV shortlisting can come with its challenges, but with the right technology and assistance, it can be streamlined and optimized for efficiency.

In addition to the solutions mentioned, here are some more best practices to effectively and efficiently shortlist candidates:

  • Define success metrics and keywords for best-fit candidates.
  • Be mindful of bias and make a proactive effort to be fair and unbiased.
  • Cross-check candidate information through LinkedIn profiles, professional references, or public information.
  • Ask candidates for feedback on the process to continue to iterate and enhance the candidate experience.