Are Resume Screening Sites Useful?

Updated: Aug 27

I recently received an email from a client and I wanted to share it because it relates to an issue I’ve been seeing more and more. The email read:

"Hi James,
I really like the resume you sent me. It's a huge improvement over my old one, but when I ran it through ResumeWorded (an online resume scanner), I got a score of 61%. Now I'm not so sure."

I’ve seen concerns like this before from past clients and I’ve also come across them on career forums. Does a low scoring resume on one of these sites mean you won’t make it through the screening process?

First, I want to say that I’m a fan of sites like ResumeWorded, Vmock, and Jobscan because they help with an important aspect of resume writing and that’s keyword usage. You may be lacking certain keywords or overusing others and it’s good to have a tool that can highlight this.

Beyond this, the usefulness of the scanning function of these websites is limited because they give a false sense of confidence. Writing a resume and getting it to an 80% or 90% match doesn’t guarantee an interview. There are two reasons for that.

#1 ATS Systems are diverse - there are hundreds!

The systems these websites use differ immensely from those used by employers. Employers use proprietary software such as Taleo, iCIMS, or SuccessFactors and there are over 100 others.

The algorithms used by each system differ and to add to that, employers can customize the rules and criteria governing the system to meet their specific needs. The same resume may score very differently on two separate systems; it may even receive different scores on the same system for two different employers.

Because of this, using the score you get on a site like Jobscan as your goal post isn’t necessarily going to produce results.

#2 Recruiters make the call, not the ATS

Ultimately, after receiving 500+ applications, a recruiter will use ATS to create a shortlist of candidates based on a set of criteria (experience, education, skills etc.). After reviewing the resumes on that shortlist, the recruiter will decide which candidates will go on to the interview round. They make the final call.

I'm not saying job seekers shouldn't use these sites, but they should definitely recognize that they’re not 100% reliable and are only make up a small part of the big picture; they're one more tool in your resume writing toolbox. Your focus should still be on creating properly written and formatted, high quality content that demonstrates the impacts you’ve made in past positions. Use tools like ResumeWorded to support your work, but don't let it dictate your entire resume.

 

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About the Author

James Cooper is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.

Have questions about resume writing? Reach out at jc@finaldraftresumes.com.