People not Paper – How to Begin Digging Out from the Piles of Resumes

One of my clients receives about 950 resumes every single day! That adds up to more than 28,000 per month and over 340,000 per year. Even though the company has over 400 positions open at any given time, this is an overwhelming amount of paper with which to deal. Just the act of sorting this data, whether it is received electronically or by paper, requires powerful computer systems, scanners, and a sizeable staff. The payoff? Less than 150 of these resumes each month actually result in an interview. Why? While the Internet has made it easier for us to find people, it has also made it much easier for candidates to send us a resume. In many cases, candidates simply send resumes in the hope someone will be attracted and call them for an interview. In other cases, people are just “fishing” and want to see how attractive they are in the marketplace. I suspect that only a fraction of the resumes received by a company are both relevant and from candidates who are truly interested in the position. Managers, on the other hand, want to interview well-qualified candidates very soon after they have opened a position. They are always at least somewhat unhappy with what they perceive as the slowness of the staffing department. They turn to agencies or to their friends for referrals or they comb their own address files to look up people they used to work with. The gap between the recruiter’s ability to deliver qualified people quickly and the manager’s needs is growing despite the huge number of resumes received by large, and even many small, firms. Cost rises too. Handling paper or paper equivalents is expensive. Services that handle paper for you charge anywhere from $1.00 up per resume. Using an ASP service can quickly run into a lot of money every month. What can de done? Do what good agencies and executive search firms have been doing for years: prescreen and develop a relationship. Today’s Internet tools are beginning to allow you to do much of this in an automated way.,,,,, Korn-Ferry’s, and many other providers are offering semi-intelligent screening tools to filter down the number of resumes that actually get placed into your recruiting system. Generally, these providers have developed “profilers” or query tools that ask the candidate a few questions up front that are particularly relevant to the hiring manager. These questions can be very simple and are usually answered by picking one response from several in a multiple choice fashion. Questions might be about previous work experience, desire to relocate, ability to perform a particular task or speak a certain language. This quickly reduces the number who get on to the next level of screening. Unfortunately, at this time the tools that I am aware of either give the hiring manager a scored report on how the questions were answered, or simply queue up the resume without any immediate further contact. Ideally, I would like to see a system that would take the candidate on to further screening immediately. This could be to a skill-based test or to a more in-depth personality review or whatever. It would still be rather simple and quick, but would promise the candidate an immediate interview either by voice or video. While this would require recruiters to be on stand-by to answer inquiries and conduct the interviews, it would be time much better spent than sorting r?sum?s. The whole approach should be of focusing resources away from resume processing and screening to PEOPLE processing and screening. These are not the same thing. Up until now technology has just duplicated what we have always done by hand. It has made the manual process quicker and faster. This is what early business software did in accounting and payroll. It simply automated the human process. Only later did we get software that can run in-depth analyses and do projections. Modern software has moved way beyond duplicating human processes and this is also beginning to happen with recruiting tools. The rest of this year will be filled with exciting new tools that push our ideas about getting a job, about screening candidates, and even about the recruiting process itself. NOTE: Last week’s column, as many of you know, was based on research done by Forrester Research ( The introductory sentence, which was omitted, said: “Recent work by Forrester Research leads them to believe that the profusion of job boards is coming to a head.” I apologize for the inadvertent lack of proper credit to Forrester.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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