Today, many companies continue to invest a significant amount of money, time, and resources into the software systems that track their hiring processes. These Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Human Resources Information Management Systems (HRIS/HRMS) are powerful tools, but they can be only as good as the data that goes into them. Capturing resume data and storing it in a way that can be analyzed are overwhelming problems, as companies receive more and more resumes every day.
These problems impact employers, staffing firms and job boards, as well as candidates. Employers, staffing companies, and job boards spend large amounts of money to attract candidates. Recruiters and HR departments need to analyze candidate data in order to fill positions, but much of it never reaches their systems because their current methods for inputting data are either overwhelmed or inadequate. Long, tedious application processes on their websites cause candidates to quit before finishing their data entry (who has 20-30 minutes to spend on each website?). Outsourcing data entry is costly, and accuracy suffers. Ultimately, the cost-per-candidate, cost-per-hire, and time-to-hire increase.
The solution? A software component called a resume parser, also known as a resume extractor or resume processor. A resume parser sits between your source of resumes and your ATS or HRIS/HRMS. A good resume parser can save time and money by identifying and extracting the relevant information from resumes and cover letters, creating a tagged data file.
That data can then be imported into the appropriate fields in your website database, ATS, or HRIS/HRMS. All the relevant information becomes available for searching and analysis by recruiters.
Choosing a Parser: Few options exist in the market today. Product features, accuracy, prices, and ease-of-integration vary widely from one vendor to the next. Some applications claim to parse, but really do nothing more than put all of the text in a single field or, perhaps, parse contact information. Surprisingly, some of the affordable and lesser-known vendors have the superior solutions. To help you evaluate your options, try our list of the top issues to consider in choosing a parser.
1. Overall Accuracy – Ever order one thing and get something else? Exactly.
First and foremost, the software should identify and extract relevant information accurately, whether the input file is an email, a document file of some type, PDF, HTML, or any other format type. For example, it should perform equally well whether or not the contact information is in the header of a document, or whether the resume has section titles or not. Some companies claim resume parsing accuracy ratings of 95 percent or 100 percent, but such numbers are irrelevant unless you are testing performance of multiple products with the same set of data (resume files) and the same environment. HireAbility.com’s ALEX (Automated Linguistic EXpert) has been shown to be the most accurate parser on the market in head-to-head tests performed by independent parties.
2. Specific Local Accuracy – Are you and your parser are throwing darts at the same board?
HireAbility recognized early on that a parser must recognize worldwide address formats, place names, phone number formats, languages, and language syntaxes, in order to place the information in the proper fields in your application. If you plan to expand with the global economy, you need to examine a parser’s “local” accuracy: determine how accurately it can interpret a resume in English with Chinese addresses, or a resume with Indian place names, for example.
3. Comprehensiveness – Just reading the “Cliff” notes won’t do.
Creating a complete candidate profile from a resume is essential because recruiters can’t find candidates whose information is incomplete or uncategorized. Does the product you are considering parse only contact information? Does it find skills in just a resume file or can it find them in a cover letter, too? Will it understand that “Ultrix” is a flavor of “UNIX”, or that “case management” skills could refer to several different industries or professions? Does it extract the number of years a particular skill has been used?
4. Flexibility – Make sure the parser you choose is not a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.
How quickly can the parser be integrated with your ATS/HRIS software?
Does the application-programming interface (API) allow you to create the solution you need? Is the product focused on only one industry?
HireAbility offers a unique feature that allows client companies to serve their individual vertical markets best by building and maintaining their own proprietary lists of skills and job titles. What kinds of business relationships are possible with the parser company? If you are an end user, do you have the choice of an installed version or a hosted version of the software? If you represent an ATS company, do you have the choice to be an OEM, a VAR, or to purchase it and pass it on as a “private label” product?
5. Speed & Stability – The tortoise doesn’t win this race.
To be efficient, the parser must return results in a timely manner, whether the processing is done in real-time or in a batch mode. The system architecture must be expandable to handle large volumes of resumes without any processing bottlenecks. For a parser that must be installed on your hardware, your IT department needs to plan for, purchase, install, and maintain enough servers to fill your needs. For a simple approach that requires less of an investment and can scale easily to your businesses peaks and lulls, a hosted solution is often a better approach. The most flexible solution, ideally, would be designed such that it is scaleable, so it can handle any volume of throughput.
HireAbility’s parsing solutions are not only infinitely scaleable; they have a successful track record in heavy everyday use. They have been integrated with career sites and ATSs for the past four years.
6. Future Roadmap – You and your parsing provider should have the same directions to the party.
While you need a parser that will cover your current needs, think about the future as well. What development path is your company taking? Are you planning to do business in Europe or Asia? If so, your parsing company should be moving in the direction of multiple languages and address formats so that when you need that, you’ll have it. Are you opening new offices and expanding your business? Your parser will need to be scaleable to accommodate the increasing volume of resumes.