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How Online Screening Techniques Affect Your Job Search

Your targeted resume may be screened out if an employer’s online screening program decides that you aren’t qualified for the position. Online screening software has the first word about who is admitted for a closer look and who isn’t.

Online screening is also known as prescreening or pre-employment screening. The purpose of online screening is to verify that you are a good fit for the position and that you haven’t lied about your background. Employers use online screening tools (tests, assessment instruments, questionnaires, and so forth) to reduce and sort applicants against criteria and competencies that are important to their organizations.

If you apply online through major job sites or many company Web site career portals, you may be asked to respond yes or no to job-related questions, such as:

  • Do you have the required college degree?

  • Do you have experience with (specific job requirement)?

  • Are you willing to relocate?

  • Do you have two or more years’ experience managing a corporate communications department?

  • Is your salary requirement between $55,000-$60,000/year?

Answering “no” to any of these kinds of questions disqualifies you for the listed position, an automated decision that helps the recruiters thin the herd of resumes more quickly but that could be a distinct disadvantage to you, the job searcher.

Sample components of online screening

The following examples of online screening illustrate common upfront filtering techniques:

  • Basic evaluation: The system automatically evaluates the match between a resume’s content (job seeker’s qualifications) and a job’s requirement and ranks the most qualified resumes at the top.

  • Skills and knowledge testing: The system uses tests that require applicants to prove their knowledge and skills in a specific area of expertise. Online skills and knowledge testing is especially prevalent in information technology jobs where dealing with given computer programs is basic to job performance.

  • Personality assessment: Attempts to measure work-related personality traits to predict job success is one of the more controversial types of online testing.

  • Behavioral assessment: The system asks questions aimed at uncovering your past experience applying core competencies the organization requires (such as fostering teamwork, managing change) and position-specific competencies (such as persuasion for sales, attention to detail for accountants).

  • Managerial assessments: The system presents applicants with typical managerial scenarios and asks them to react. Proponents say that managerial assessments are effective for predicting performance on competencies, such as interpersonal skills, business acumen, and decision making.

Pros and cons of online screening

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of online screening, from the job seeker’s perspective:

  • Advantages: In theory, a perfect online screening is totally job based and fair to all people with equal skills. Your resume would survive the first cut based only on your ability to do well in the job. You also are screened out of consideration for any job you may not be able to do, saving yourself stress and keeping your track record free of false starts.

  • Disadvantages: The creation of an online process is vulnerable to human misjudgment. Moreover, you have no chance to “make up” missing competencies or skills.

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