Talent Circles

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What is Resume Parsing?


By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Resume Parsing is when free form resume information is converted into structured information that is suitable for reporting and manipulation by a computer. The usefulness behind structured information works in the recruiters favor when thousands of resumes pour in from a variety of sources. In order to capture relevant information recruiters are able to use resume-parsing services data directly into the ATS saving time as well as room in your filing cabinet.

Recruiters gain enormous advantages when using resume parsing. We’ve come up with a list of a few of the many benefits recruiters obtain by using resume parsing:

More Usable Data: We’ve all been there at a job fair or a recruiting event leaving with a stack of awkward and useless paper resumes. Additionally, resume databases can be filled with inaccurate or incomplete data with tons of complicated records. Resume parsing makes useless information, useful and easy. When applicants submit resumes parsing software takes each bit of information and uploads it into a database that recruiters are able to use, search, and make better decisions throughout the entire hiring process. Imagine scanning your resumes before you leave the job fair with the candidate data automatically being uploaded into your ATS or talent community.

Reduced Cost: One of the biggest challenges recruiters face is proving ROI on investments. Resume Parsing allows a recruiter to automatically see information collected in such a way that it reduces the man-hours of looking through every single resume to only minutes by searching for information credited to qualified applicants. No more long lonely nights sifting through endless piles of paper resumes. No longer does the recruiter need to read a resume, give them some superficial rating and keep track of pros and cons.

Improved Candidate Experience: One of the biggest obstacles that recruiters face is providing an exceptional experience for each candidate. Using resume-parsing software allows candidates to forgo the dreaded application process that could take 30-60 minutes to fill out by simply uploading a resume. Let your software do all the work while improving not only your resume abandonment numbers, but by increasing your overall candidate quality.

Resume parsing was created to streamline a recruiter’s job when it comes to searching through unlimited resumes. It’s impossible for any department to function properly when the majority of their time is taking apart hundreds, if not thousands of resumes. A recruiter is able to take apart resumes by keywords and search data in ways that weren’t even possible before resume parsing was made available.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Photo Credit.


  1. Hello Jessica,

    Reading lately all the articles regarding resume parsing, I do not believe that it improves the candidate's experience. On the contrary, it seems to be very frustrating to be rejected because one does not have the right keywords in his/her resume and cover letter.

    Resume parsing has been created to speed the rejection process... It's just useful for the short-sighted recruiter who does not understand that he may miss the perfect employee just because he is missing a tag.

    To be honest with you, I am currently building a new ATS and I am strongly against resume parsing alone. You can compare resume parsing with Google data analysis at the beginning of the 90s. If a website owner had the right keywords, if was sure to be one the first page of Google. But all the search engines don't work like that anymore. They analyse your presence on the web, your relevance, if you are an expert or not and a thousand of other things. ATS needs to do the same. It's ok to analyse the keywords but only if you value them against the social presence on the web of the candidate, make a good use of his blog posts, take into account his recommendations...

    What we need is an algorithm to detect the best candidates instead of rejecting the unfortunates ones who forgot to add one word on their resumes.



    1. Eric,

      My view in that it improves candidate experience is that as a job seeker, I don't have to spend an additional 45 minutes applying for the job again after I've already provider a recruiter a copy of my resume.

      I see value for resume parsing particularly in face to face situations like job fairs and career events where recruiters interact with those job seekers online. As a recruiter, I haul those resumes back to my office after the event where they sit on a dusty shelf and as a recruiter I have to then type in personalized emails to respond to that candidate combing through my notes inviting them to apply.

      I'd like to see a mobile way to engage those job seekers using resume parsing so that I can add comments, conversations and notes attached to that resume. In the current model without resume parsing as I see, a recruiter writes notes directly on the resume and there is no follow up because the paper resumes get left behind.

      This is the reason that companies are using talent communities like Talent Circles, text message communities to help improve engagement and follow up with candidates. Resume parsing provides a compliance piece and makes it flow better in response and improve follow up time for candidate engagement.

      I don't see resume parsing in the way that you describe. It's a way to upload the paper resume and move it into the traditional ATS. Any recruiter in corporate will tell you that there is a breakdown between the ATS and the paper resume which is why many experts are calling for the death of the traditional resume.

      While I'm a fan of algorithms to help hire the best. I think that this removes the human element that makes face to face so valuable. If we only source candidates using the internet, I think we are missing an important part of what makes humans, human. It's called personality.

      That idea is one of the reasons I started my blog, Blogging4Jobs.com in 2007 because on my paper resume, application or online there was nothing really special about me that you could see. I needed a place to share my thoughts, demonstrate skills and provide a place for an employer to get to know me. This is how I feel that resume parsing can help with this situation.

      I appreciate your comment. I'd love to hear more about the ATS that you are building.

      Jessica Miller-Merrell

  2. Hello Jessica,
    Wonderful article. I agree with you that Resume Parsing is must have tool in today's recruitment industry.

    Regarding Eric point, I agree with him too. In today's world, challenge is right candidate for right job.
    i rejections are done faster and right candidate is shortlisted and goes to final stage, I am sure that candidate, recruiter and organization all are in win-win situation.

    And to get something, we need to loose today.
    More over now various services are available which help candidates to make resumes parser compliant. Like jobpad, RChilli, total-cv and many more.

    So lets accept this wonderful technology, and look forward to great HR Technology innovations.

    1. Hi Vinay,

      Thanks for your comment. Agree with loose today to move forward with tomorrow. There are lots of resume parsing tools and softwares out there. The key is to see them as a tool used in a new and innovative way and not solely a technology that parses text from a pdf to an online database.

      Jessica Miller-Merrell

  3. In response to Eric as far as the candidate experience, we need to remember that resume parsing is not only used by ATSs but by job boards and career sites as well. In those instances, facilitating a candidate's ability to apply for a position with software is a huge time-saver vis-a-vis filling out an application manually.

    In these instances, resume parsers are very useful for job boards in improving the candidate experience. Yes, no parser is perfect; natural language processing technology will rarely exceed 90-92% at its best. But I'd prefer people keep expressing themselves creatively through resumes than the 'fill-in-the-box' approach social networks are taking for profiles.

    Steve Kenda, CEO, HireAbility.com

  4. Hello Jessica, Vinay, Steve,

    As I don’t want to be misunderstood, let me tell you that I have been on both sides of the recruitment process. In the Philippines and with the booming of the BPO industry, I have witnessed some “mass hiring”, where recruiters have to find tens and sometimes hundred of suitable candidates in a short span on time. I have been also a candidate and I know how frustrating it can be to apply for a job knowing that hundreds of candidates have applied for this job…

    My comment may not have reflected my exact thoughts. I think that resume parsing can be a good tool if it is not used only to eliminate candidates based on keywords. In the last couple of months, I read at least 5 or 6 blog posts about how a candidate should rewrite his resume in order to get picked by the computer. And, yes, the candidate is saving time and his experience has improved in a way. But, as recruiters, how can we be sure that the software will not disregard the perfect applicant?

    Jessica, I don’t want to use your blog to do what could be considered as an advertisement for the ATS that I am going to launch (so sorry if it looks that way). The MVP that will be released in about a month will just be the usual tool to replace the spreadsheet. Nothing fancy here but that’s what an ATS is about to begin with. Managing hundreds of applications, working collaboratively, and using hiring pipelines are the minimum features that any ATS has. Then, we will allow the candidates to register and apply using their LinkedIn credentials. So, as you can see, I will do resume parsing as well. In the roadmap, the most important features for me are the feedback given to the candidates and the possibility to interact with the recruiters. As a candidate, I found very frustrating the fact that I was never given a chance to give a “second” good impression (first one being having a good resume/cover letter). A recruiter should be able to ask a simple question without going to the hassle of sending a formal question. Let’s say that you are wondering what a candidate did during a couple of missing months, just send the question through the ATS and let the applicant gives his answer. He will be notified and so will you as soon as he answers. You will then be able to comment any part of his resume/cover letter/answers and let the people you are working with what you really think.

    So, to summarize, I am not at all against resume parsing but I am strongly against resume parsing used only as a tool to eliminate candidates.

    Warm regards,


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