What Is Resume Parsing? (With Definition and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A compelling resume is an important part of any application because it can show the hiring manager why a specific candidate is valuable. If many candidates apply for the same position, a resume parsing system can help potential employers create an efficient system for organising and processing all the applications. For this reason, whether you're a recruitment professional hoping to streamline your hiring process or a candidate interested in improving your resume, learning about parsing systems can be beneficial.

In this article, we explain what resume parsing is, describe why it's important, discuss how it works and provide tips for creating a resume that can perform well in parsing.

What is resume parsing?

Resume parsing is a process wherein a company or business uses software to structure and organise the resumes that potential team members submit in response to a job listing. Hiring teams can use this system to search for keywords within the resumes to identify the most qualified applicants. The software can also sort and organise the applications, making it simple for hiring managers to find specific resumes or review a particular section of applications.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Job Application

Why is resume parsing important?

Parsing systems are important because it can help employers optimise the hiring process. Depending on the size of the company and the effort put into recruiting, many individuals may apply for the same position. Processing this number of applicants can be challenging for a small hiring team. Application parsing can help them identify applicants with the best qualifications and advance those individuals to the next stage of the hiring process. This can save the company time and money, and help them find the best possible individuals for open positions. Here are some other benefits of parsing resumes:

  • Enhances organisation: Parsing systems can store resume information in an organised manner. This allows hiring teams to sort resumes according to their requirements.

  • Improves accuracy: Using an automatic system to scan resumes for keywords can help ensure teams don't miss candidates because of human error.

  • Encourages equity: Using machine learning can also remove any human bias from the initial stage of the hiring process. This can help create more fair opportunity for all candidates.

  • Improves speed: These tools can operate more quickly than the human mind. This allows companies that use parsing to speed up the process of reviewing initial applications considerably.

  • Saves money: Parsing allows companies to save money by streamlining the time-consuming task of initial resume review. This can help hiring teams focus their attention and resources on other elements of the hiring process.

  • Allows more applicants: While companies that review each application individually may only have the time to accept a small number of applications, application parsing makes it possible for a greater number of applicants to apply. This increases the company's chance of connecting with their ideal candidate.

Related: What Does a Hiring Manager Do? (Key Duties and Skills)

How does resume parsing work?

In general, parsing systems compare resumes to the job listing or other specified keywords, then organise the resumes based on their performance. Here are the steps that the systems take to c omplete this process:

1. Upload resumes

First, the hiring team upload the resumes into the parsing system. This process may differ depending on the specific parsing software. In some cases, hiring teams may upload each document or a group of documents manually into the system. In other cases, they might set the system up to identify and incorporate resumes automatically. For example, if a hiring manager creates an application form online that includes a place for applicants to share their resume or work experience, the system may use the data from the online form.

Related: Guide: How to Get a Job

2. Extract information

Next, the hiring team can set the keywords or other search criteria, then allow the system to scan each document. During this process, the software can identify items that match the search criteria and extract the relevant information. Hiring teams can create keywords that relate to work experience, skills, education, certifications, location or contact information.

3. Organise resumes

Finally, the system can organise the resumes using the keyword data it extracts. It might sort resumes with a high abundance of keywords into a group for the hiring team to review. The parsing software can also eliminate candidates that the parsing process suggests may not have the right qualifications for the open position.

Types of resume parsing

There are a variety of parsing software options which may each work in slightly different ways. Here are some common resume parsing software options to consider:

Keyword-based parsing

Keyword-based parsing is one common software option. This type of parsing software searches resumes for specified character combinations, allowing hiring teams to search for keywords, phrases or patterns in the resume's text. Hiring managers may set the system to search for phrases relating to the skills or qualifications for which they're looking. For example, if a company is hiring for an individual with project management, they can set the keyword project management to find resumes that mention it as a skill or experience.

Grammar-based parsing

Like keyword-based parsing, grammar-based parsing allows hiring managers to search for specific words or phrases within a resume to identify interesting candidates. Unlike keyword-based parsing, this type of software can incorporate grammar rules to help hiring managers create more specific searches that incorporate the meaning of the sentence rather than focusing solely on which keywords it contains.

Statistical parsing

Statistical parsing uses numerical models to order applications and extract data from resumes. This is a highly precise type of software system that can identify words or phrases, distinguish context and identify numerical content like addresses, phone numbers or work history dates. This type of parsing can be useful to hiring managers with highly specific application criteria or large applicant groups.

Tips for creating an effective resume for parsing systems

If you're interested in applying to an open position, you might consider the possibility that the hiring team may use a parsing system before reviewing the applications manually. Here are some tips you can use to create a resume that might perform well in an application parsing process:

Identify and use keywords

Read the job posting carefully and note keywords that relate to the job duties and responsibilities. You can then create a resume that uses these keywords as often as possible while remaining clear and professional. Saturating your resume with keywords in this way can help resume parsing software systems to identify you as a valuable candidate.

If the reviewer notices the abundance of keywords, they may understand that you're aware of parsing and that you did the work of reading the job description carefully, identifying keywords and including those keywords on your resume. This can impress hiring managers, as it shows dedication, attention to detail and ingenuity.

Read more: Examples of Sales Resume Keywords (Plus How to Use Them)

Use a simple resume template

Parsing software systems may more easily process resumes that use a simple resume format that's compatible with the system. This means that using a traditional resume template can help improve your chances of passing a parsing round in the hiring process. You can use traditional fonts like Arial, Georgia or Times New Roman. You can also use typical spacing and heading titles like Professional Summary, Work History or Education.

Read more: Guide to Using a Modern Resume Template (With Tips and Examples)

Use basic language

While using complex language to describe your experiences may impress some hiring managers, it can also be a disadvantage during the parsing process. This is because a simple term is more likely to be a keyword than a unique and complex phrase for the same concept. This means that using the most common name for a job and using only common abbreviations can help your resume perform well.

Proofread your resume

Before you submit your resume, proofread it carefully for minor spelling and grammar errors. This can help your resume perform well in parsing because a parsing software system is unlikely to identify a keyword if it's misspelled. Consider printing your resume out and reviewing it with a pen to find and fix minor errors before submitting.

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