Resume Parsing in Hiring: What Is It & Why?

Resume parsing in hiring may become your biggest asset. Here's why.
November 20, 2022
4 minutes
With resume parsing it's easy to sort through resumes.

As a hiring manager, recruiter, or job board manager, you deal with enormous quantities of resumes all the time. Sorting through massive piles of incoming CVs gets old quickly, but there is a better way. Resume parsing enables your computer to do all the routine work for you, freeing you up to spend your time on the higher-level tasks that matter most. 

What is Resume Parsing?

Resume parsing is a technique of extracting data from resumes, transforming the unorganized stack of CVs on your desk into a neat database of structured data your applicant tracking system (ATS) can manipulate.  Once resumes are parsed, candidate data is ready to populate your candidate profiles, and you can use automated methods to search or sort through applicants for a given position.

Why Use Resume Parsing?

The primary reason you’d want to use resume parsing is the time it saves. Sure, you can go through every resume submitted, inputting that data manually into your ATS, but it’s going to take a lot of time. Hiring someone to do it for you is costly, and the more resumes they process, the more the accuracy will go down. Humans don’t function well when they’re brain dead, and routine data entry is one of the more mind-numbing tasks there are.

With a resume parser, the process is automatic and takes no more than a few minutes.  You can easily convert any incoming resumes to neatly organized candidate profiles in your ATS, and once that’s done, everything else follows.  Want to pull up a promising resume from a 2021 job opening for a potential new spot? With all the info in your well-organized, nicely structured electronic database, there’s nothing easier. Resume parsing doesn’t only help you sort through incoming resumes for a new job opening, it also produces a helpful pool of all all the candidates that have ever applied through your job board, hiring agency or HR office.

Resume Parsing and Bias Free Hiring

Bias free hiring is another reason many recruiting agencies choose to use automated resume parsing solutions.  We’re all working toward the ideal of zero bias in our recruiting and hiring, but in spite of the best intentions unconscious bias often creeps in. When candidate data has been processed with a resume parser it’s easy to create redacted resumes with all superfluous data omitted. Pictures, names, gender, ethnicity, and even schools or locations will no longer be a distraction, and you’ll be able to choose the best candidate based on skills work, and candidate experience.

As a job board or recruiter, you can also use resume parsing to create branded versions of resumes with contact information redacted so that your clients aren’t tempted to skip the middleman (you!) and contact candidates with their offers directly. 

Types of Resume Parsing Software

As you begin to research resume parsing solutions, you’ll find the options out there are many and varied. With everyone claiming to be best in field, it’s important to know what differentiates them and how to find a solution that really meets your needs.

Accuracy and speed are the two chief selling points of most resume parsers. 

Speed is great, and may be one of the reasons you decided to automate the process to begin with. Moving from an hour to manually process a stack of resumes to two minutes tops is really great. But does it really matter if you get results in one minute 20 seconds or one minute thirty five? In our experience, once you have a decent parsing solution the variables in speed are essentially negligible.

That leaves accuracy as the first and foremost issue when it comes to resume parsing technology. Advances in AI have led to extremely accurate resume parsers that learn from any mistakes and can adapt to your specific industry as you use them. But not every resume parser   is able to do this. When shopping for a resume parser, find out whether the program you’re looking at is template based, keyword based, or based on deep learning and AI. 

Template Based Resume Parsing

Template-based resume parsing used to be immensely popular, and it is still used by some of the giants in the CV parsing world. Resumes are compared to a standard template, and key fields are extracted by a process of matching. This method works quite well when a resume has the same format and wording as the templates loaded in the system, but it is not dynamic and tends to have difficulty processing creative resumes or industry-specific CVs.

Keyword Based Resume Parsing

In keyword-based resume parsing, the computer program runs a search much like the searches you do in your word processor. Fields like work experience, skills, and education can often be easily elucidated, and the algorithms tend to work quickly. Again, this is not the best method for creatively worded resumes, and if you need to work with industry-specific lingo you may find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall.

AI-Based Resume Parsing

The gold standard in resume parsing involves using AI to actually read the resume and extract data in much the same way a human would. Natural language processing (NLP) and. One example of this type of CV extractor is Affinda’s resume parser, powered by an AI engine called Vega. Rather than simply run a keyword search or compare a resume to a given template, Vega looks at both the visual structure and words on the page to make sense of any type of resume your applicants may dream up. Continuous learning makes this system especially useful for niche resumes and industry-specific language: if the parser isn’t 100% accurate from the beginning, correct any mistakes that come up, and you’ll see it improve with every reiteration. 

How to Choose a Resume Parsing Solution

So when you look for a resume parsing solution, look for a modern AI based solution that can adapt to your needs. While new is great, you don’t want something untested and untried either:  find an enterprise-ready option that has already been used by other companies like your own.

Reading through reviews can give you a great idea of the strength and weaknesses of any given software option. But your use case won’t be a true match to anyone else’s, and there’s nothing like trying out each of your possible options to determine what will function best under your circumstances. If a resume parser solution doesn’t offer a robust free trial to allow you to do just that, you may want to cross it off your shortlist right away. 

Five or ten resumes aren’t enough to put a resume parser through its paces—- plan to process at least a hundred, and try to use real-life resumes that provide a fair sample of what you expect to see on a regular basis. If you aren’t getting the accuracy you want, consider chatting with the developers to find out if there are tweaks they can put in place to help their AI engine to work better under your circumstances. At Affinda, for instance, we’re always happy to help train our parsing engine for any individual use case or industry for stellar, sniper-sharp parsing results.

No Commitment, No Work: Free Online Resume Parsing

If you’re just exploring the wonderful new world of resume parsing and would like to get your feet wet without making any kind of financial commitment, Affinda’s online resume parser is a great tool to experiment with. Using this online data extractor is a simple three step process:

  1. Navigate to affinda.com/resume-parser

2. Upload your resumes— the free tool is limited to 25 files at a time, but you can repeat the process as often as you’d like. 

3. Click ‘parse’, and let Vega do its thing. It won’t be long before your extracted data is ready to download, and you can choose between an Excel summary, a JSON file, or an XML file.

While the free tool is limited in order to make it available to everyone, the paid version of Affinda’s resume parser allows you to do bulk uploads of a much larger number of resumes. You can also use the API to integrate the tool directly into your ATS for a more streamlined experience. Want to test the API? No problem; just write and ask for a free API key. 

Done right, resume parsing can be an incredibly rewarding way to simplify your workload and automate the way you do hiring. Routine data entry shouldn’t take the lion’s share of your workday, and reading through resumes till your eyes are glazed over is not the best way to find that one-star candidate in a stack of non-performers. Take the time now to find a great resume parsing solution, and get it integrated directly with your job board or ATS so you can do one-click resume parsing. Then you’ll be able to spend your days doing the kind of work you’re passionate about and leave copying data by hand to people who like that sort of thing.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about Affinda’s resume parsing solution and how it can help you.   

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