With few exceptions, screening candidates has become a major problem for companies these days.  An oversupply of unemployed candidates and unhappy workers seeking employment or better jobs is clogging up inboxes and bogging down productivity.

The deluge of resumes, or what I have been calling the resu-mess, is a problem for small companies.  Often the small business doesn’t have a dedicated recruiter or HR manager which means that screening and interviewing candidates diverts attention away from other responsibilities.   Spending the time to screen dozens or even hundreds of resumes just isn’t possible.  Employee selection then becomes “first come, first served,” and quality and qualified candidates are missed.

Small business is not alone in this resu-mess. Large business is overwhelmed with applications and they too don’t have enough human resources and recruiting staff to manage the process, especially after the recession decimated their ranks.

Fortunately technology and automation has again come to the rescue.  No more is an automated applicant processing system too complex and too expensive for the small business.  Like the cost of almost anything involving technology, the convenience eventually becomes irresistible and the investment has an almost immediate return on investment.

While many vendors claim to offer applicant processing systems, all are not created equal.  Five features should be included in any system if the system is to do what the employer intends it to do – find the most qualified candidates quickly and accurately. To do this, I recommend this 5-point checklist for selecting the right applicant processing system.

  1. Applicant dashboard.  A hiring manager or recruiter should be able to log into their company APS system and easily access a dashboard. The dashboard should show at a glance names of candidates and date of application, plus additional features I’ll discuss shortly.  By viewing this dashboard, the recruiter or hiring manager can quickly determine if current sourcing (Careerbuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, Craig’s List, employee referral, etc.) is working and make adjustments accordingly.