resume parsing

What is resume parsing? Complete Guide

In this digital age, resume parsing has evolved to handle a wide range of resume formats, making it a versatile tool for organizations of all sizes and industries. It plays a pivotal role in simplifying and streamlining the recruitment process, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and more effective talent acquisition.

This technology isn’t without its challenges, including the need for ongoing updates to accommodate evolving resume formats and the risk of errors in data extraction. However, when properly implemented and integrated into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or HR software, resume parsing can significantly contribute to an organization’s success in identifying and selecting the most qualified candidates for job openings.

What is resume parsing?

Resume parsing is a technology-driven process used in recruitment and human resources to extract, sort, and categorize information from job applicants’ resumes or CVs (curriculum vitae). The primary goal of resume parsing is to automate the initial screening and data entry tasks associated with reviewing a large volume of resumes, making it easier for recruiters and HR professionals to identify qualified candidates efficiently.

This technology employs sophisticated algorithms and techniques to scan and analyze resumes, extracting essential details such as contact information, education history, work experience, skills, certifications, and more. Once the data is extracted, it’s structured into a format that allows for easy organization, retrieval, and comparison.

Resume parsing offers numerous advantages, including significant time savings, enhanced efficiency, and improved candidate matching. By automating the laborious task of manually reviewing and entering candidate information, recruiters can focus their efforts on higher-value tasks like conducting interviews and building relationships with potential hires.

Types of resume parsers

There are several types of resume parsers available, each with its own features and capabilities. Here are the common types of resume parsers:

1. Rule-based resume parsers

Rule-based parsers rely on predefined rules and patterns to extract information from resumes. These rules are typically based on the structure and formatting commonly found in resumes, such as the placement of contact information, education, work experience, and skills sections. They are customizable and can be tailored to specific resume formats. They are generally accurate when dealing with standard resume layouts.

2. Resume parsing using machine learning

Machine learning-based parsers use algorithms that learn and adapt to recognize patterns and extract data from resumes. They use training data to improve their accuracy over time. They can handle a wider variety of resume formats, including non-standard layouts. 

3. Cloud-based parsers

Cloud-based parsers can be accessible online and are hosted on remote servers. Scalability and accessibility from any location with an internet connection are advantages they provide. They are simple to integrate into current systems, and the service provider handles changes.

4. Industry-specific resume parsers

Some parsers are created for particular sectors, such as the healthcare or financial industry. These parsers have been developed to comprehend terms, credentials, and certifications relevant to a given industry.  They can accurately judge a candidate’s suitability for roles that are peculiar to their sector.

How does resume parsing work?

Here’s how resume parsing works:

1. Data Input: The process begins when a resume or CV is submitted for parsing. Resumes can be in various formats, including Word documents, PDFs, plain text, or even scanned images.

2. Text Extraction: The automated resume parsing software extracts the textual content from the document, regardless of its format. This step involves Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for scanned documents to convert images into text.

3. Segmentation: The parsed text is divided into distinct sections or blocks, such as contact information, work experience, education, skills, and other relevant categories. These sections are identified based on common patterns and formatting cues found in resumes.

4. Data Field Identification: Within each section, the software identifies and extracts specific data fields. For example:

  • Contact Information: Name, address, phone number, email address, etc.
  • Work Experience: Job titles, company names, dates of employment, job descriptions, etc.
  • Education: Degrees earned, institutions attended, graduation dates, etc.
  • Skills: Technical skills, languages, certifications, etc.

5.  Normalization: To ensure consistency and standardization, the extracted data is normalized. This may involve converting dates into a standardized format (e.g., DD/MM/YYYY), standardizing job titles, and categorizing skills into predefined categories.

6.  Keyword Matching: Many resume parsing systems allow for keyword matching. Recruiters can define specific keywords or phrases related to job requirements, and the resume parser identifies and highlights resumes that contain these keywords.

7. Database Storage: The parsed and categorized data is stored in a structured database or integrated directly into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or HR software. This database serves as a repository of candidate information.

8. Integration with ATS: Integration with an ATS is common, allowing the parsed data to flow seamlessly into an organization’s recruitment workflow. Recruiters can easily access and manage candidate profiles within the ATS.

9. User Interface: Recruiters and HR professionals can access the parsed candidate data through a user-friendly interface. This interface allows for searching, filtering, and sorting candidate profiles based on specific criteria.

10. Customization: Resume parsing systems are often customizable to adapt to the unique needs of an organization. Recruiters can define data fields, criteria for categorization, and keyword lists according to their hiring requirements.

Also read: How does resume screening software work?

Advantages or benefits of resume parsing

Finding the best applicant for a position that is open might be made easier via resume parsing. Other benefits of resume parsing for human resources include the following:

1. Time-saving: Resume parsing automates the time-consuming process of manually entering candidate information, allowing recruiters to focus on higher-value tasks like interviewing and relationship-building.

2. Keeps resumes organized: Resume parsing technology automatically extracts and categorizes information from resumes or CVs, creating structured data that is easy to organize and manage. This structured data can be stored in a database or integrated into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), making it simple for recruiters and HR professionals to access and review candidate information.

3. Reduced errors: Resume parsing software automates the extraction of data from resumes or CVs. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, a process prone to typographical errors, omissions, and inconsistencies. Many resume parsing tools employ advanced algorithms to identify and match keywords related to skills, qualifications, and experiences. This accuracy minimizes the risk of missing qualified candidates or mistakenly selecting unqualified ones.

4. Cost Savings: Resume parsing automates the labor-intensive task of manually reviewing and entering candidate information into databases or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). This reduction in manual labor leads to lower personnel costs and increased operational efficiency.

5. Integration: Resume parsing technology can seamlessly work with and connect to other software systems, particularly Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), and related HR or recruitment software. Integrated systems can share data and communicate with each other, reducing the need for duplicate data entry and manual data transfer. This streamlines the entire recruitment workflow, from receiving resumes to making hiring decisions.

6. Improved hiring efficiency: Resume parsing technology can instantly match candidate profiles with job requirements based on predefined keywords and criteria. This rapid matching process accelerates the identification of suitable candidates.

Disadvantages of resume parsing

1. Limited Context Understanding: Resume parsing software relies on predefined rules and algorithms to extract information. It may struggle with understanding context, leading to misinterpretation of data. For example, it might misclassify skills or job titles if they’re mentioned in an unconventional way.

2. Difficulty with Unstructured Data: Resumes come in various formats, and not all are structured the same way. Parsing software may struggle with unstructured or non-standard resumes, potentially missing or misinterpreting critical information.

3. Inaccuracy: Parsing software may occasionally produce inaccurate results, especially when dealing with uncommon or specialized fields. False positives and false negatives can occur, impacting the quality of the parsed data.

4. Inability to Assess Soft Skills: Resume parsing primarily focuses on extracting hard or technical skills and qualifications. It can’t evaluate soft skills like communication, teamwork, or leadership, which are often crucial for job performance.

5. Bias in Parsing Rules: The parsing rules and algorithms can inadvertently introduce bias. If the rules prioritize certain keywords or formats, it may disadvantage candidates who use different terminology or structures, leading to potential discrimination.

6. Updates and Maintenance: Resume parsing software requires regular updates to stay current with changing job market trends, new job titles, and evolving resume formats. Failing to update the software can lead to inaccurate parsing.

Tips for effective resume parsing

Here are some tips for effective resume parsing:

1. Choose the Right Resume Parsing Software: Start by selecting the robust and best resume parsing software or tool that suits your organization’s needs. Look for features such as OCR capabilities for scanned resumes, customization options, and integration with your Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

2. Standardize Data Fields: Define and standardize the data fields you want to extract from resumes. Common fields include Name, Contact Information, Work Experience, Education, Skills, and Certifications. Ensuring consistent data fields makes it easier to manage and analyze candidate information.

3. Customize Parsing Rules: Customize parsing rules based on your industry and job requirements. Tailor the parser to recognize specific job titles, skills, or qualifications that are crucial for your positions.

4. Keyword Lists: Create keyword lists for essential skills, qualifications, and job-related terms. These lists help the parser identify and prioritize candidates with specific attributes you’re looking for.

5. Handle Variations: Resume content can vary widely in terms of formatting and content structure. Ensure that your parsing tool can handle variations in resume layouts, fonts, and styles.

6. Test and Refine: Regularly test and refine your parsing rules and keyword lists. As job requirements change or new terms emerge, update your parsing criteria to stay relevant.

7. Integration with ATS: If you use an ATS, ensure seamless integration between your resume parsing tool and the ATS. This ensures that parsed data flows seamlessly into your recruitment workflow.

8. Candidate Privacy and Compliance: Be mindful of data privacy regulations, such as GDPR or CCPA, when parsing resumes. Ensure that you have consent to collect and process candidate data.

9. Regular Updates: Stay updated with the latest developments in resume parsing technology. New features and improvements can enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your parsing process.

10. Training and Support: Ensure that your HR and recruitment teams are adequately trained in using the parsing software. Additionally, have access to reliable customer support from the software provider in case of issues or questions.

How to use ATS for resume parsing

Using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for resume parsing involves several steps to efficiently extract and manage candidate information from resumes. Here’s a guide on how to use ATS resume parsing:

1. Choose an ATS: First, select an ATS that suits your organization’s needs and integrates well with your hiring process. Ensure it has resume parsing capabilities. Popular ATS systems with parsing features include Smartrecruiters, Greenhouse, and Lever.

2. Resume Submission: Candidates submit their resumes through your company’s career portal or the ATS directly. Resumes can be uploaded as files (e.g., PDF, Word) or entered manually.

3. Automatic Scanning: The ATS automatically scans and parses the resumes using predefined algorithms and rules. These rules are designed to identify and extract key information, such as contact details, work experience, education, skills, and certifications.

4. Data Extraction: The parsed data is extracted and categorized into specific fields within the ATS database. This process populates candidate profiles with relevant information.

5. Data Standardization: The ATS may standardize data to ensure consistency. For example, it might convert job titles to a uniform format or use standardized skill categories.

6. Keyword Matching: ATSs often include keyword-matching functionality. The software matches the parsed information from resumes with job descriptions and qualifications to identify suitable candidates.

7. Ranking and Filtering: ATSs can rank and filter candidates based on their qualifications and the criteria specified in the job posting. This helps recruiters identify the most promising candidates quickly.

8. Customization: Customize the ATS’s parsing rules and criteria to align with your specific hiring needs. This may involve configuring the system to recognize industry-specific terminology or unique job requirements.

9. Review and Verification: Review the parsed data to ensure accuracy. While ATSs are generally accurate, occasional errors can occur. Make corrections as needed.

10. Candidate Search: Utilize the ATS’s search and query features to identify candidates who meet specific criteria. You can search for skills, experience levels, locations, and more.

11. Candidate Communication: Use the ATS to communicate with candidates, schedule interviews, and manage the hiring process. Many ATSs offer email integration and communication tracking.

12. Collaboration: ATSs often enable collaboration among team members involved in the hiring process. Recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers can access candidate profiles and provide feedback within the system.

13. Compliance: Ensure your use of ATS for resume parsing complies with relevant data privacy and employment laws, such as GDPR in Europe or EEOC guidelines in the United States.

14. Regular Updates: Maintain the ATS and resume parsing rules to accommodate changes in job requirements, industry terminology, and resume formats.

15. Training: Train your HR and recruitment teams on how to effectively use the ATS for resume parsing. This includes understanding how to search for candidates, review parsed data, and collaborate within the system.


To make the most of resume parsing, organizations should choose the right parsing software, customize parsing rules, stay updated with industry trends, and prioritize data accuracy and privacy. By effectively implementing resume parsing into their recruitment processes, organizations can identify and hire the best-fit candidates more efficiently, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and a stronger workforce.

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