A Tongue in Cheek Overview
What do recruiters see when they look at a resume? What makes them want to stop and read yours word-for-word and what triggers the impulse to skip on to the next one…
I’ve had several conversations recently with job seekers who all seem shocked when I tell them to “hone” their resume. Make it perfect. Make it a marketing piece. Make it stand out. Tell me clearly and concisely why you are the right fit for the job and why I want to meet you.
I recruit full time, I love recruiting. I’m passionate about people and jobs and finding the right fit. I freely admit that I sometimes spend way too long looking at a resume, but the majority of recruiters do not. We are all buried under with resumes (especially in this economy). I recently posted a job for a technician and within one hour, I had over 100 resumes in my in box. Two weeks later, I’m still receiving them. Time is precious.
The exact amount of time most people spend reviewing a resume varies, but most often I’ve heard anywhere from 10 – 30 seconds.
There’s not much in this world that anyone can do “well” in that amount of time, but after years of recruiting, I can tell you roughly what someone is looking for on a resume in 10 – 30 seconds.
Location? Do you have a degree (if I need one)? Job titles? Company names/industries? What have you done that applies to this job opening? Are you a US Citizen (if I need one)? What makes you special?
Anything beyond that is lost in the clutter of a resume.
From a recruiter’s standpoint, give me what I need up front. Don’t make me search for it. Everyone knows it’s a highly competitive market and if I have to spend too long looking for what I want on your resume, well, I’ll move on to the next one…PASS.
Why do I want to know your location? Are you local to my company or are you looking for relocation assistance? Do I have to fly you in for an interview or can you get here in ten minutes? Maybe I don’t care, but if I do care and you don’t tell me you live down the street, I’ll assume you live in Timbuktu…PASS.
Degree? Do you have one? What school did you attend? If you just list the college, what does that mean? Are you hiding the fact you didn’t graduate or are you assuming that I know that listing a school means you got a degree? Was it an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, PhD? What did you major in? If I have to guess or I have some doubt…PASS.
Job titles? Maybe it’s not applicable to the job you are applying for, but if you don’t tell me what your title was, I’m likely to have to guess and I’ll always guess you were the janitor (unless you are applying for a janitorial position, then I’ll guess you were the president). Too much room for doubt…PASS.
Company names? Have you ever worked for any of my competitors? Do you have similar industry experience? A1B2C3 Company is meaningless. Tell me what industry it was in. Even if you worked for Microsoft or some other well known company, I need help knowing where your background experience came from. If I need someone from a manufacturing industry and none of your employer’s names include the word “manufacturing” I won’t know the industry, so …PASS.
Job description, duties and responsibilities?Tell me in the first few lines under each job what you did there that applies to what I want you to be doing in the job for which I am recruiting. If the fourteenth bullet point under your last job title is exactly what I’m looking for, I’ll never see it. If the fourteenth bullet point under your last job title says “discovered the cure for cancer” no one will ever see it…PASS. It’s a shame, isn’t it?
US Citizenship? If I’m recruiting for a client who requires a US Security Clearance, I’ll need candidates with US Citizenship. If you are a US Citizen, even if your name is George Washington, put US CITIZEN on your resume. If I’m in doubt and have to call to find out for sure that’s going to take too much time…PASS.
What makes you special? I need to see it, in writing on your resume. Never assume that because you had the title of … Electrical Engineer … that I know automatically you know how to design a printed circuit board. You could be an Engineer and drive a train. You could be an Electrical Engineer and never have anything to do with PCB design.
Read the job posting. Analyze it and make sure your resume highlights the skills that are requested. Tell me where you did the same or similar work and how successful you were at it.
And, last but not least, follow directions. If I ask for a Word version of your resume, please send a Word version of your resume. If I ask for your salary requirement, please tell me roughly what you think is acceptable.
“Negotiable” means something completely different to everyone who sees the word. If I’m worried that I’ll get all the way through the interview process with you and then find out that your definition of negotiable is twice what the top of my salary range is…well…it’s just faster to…PASS.
By the way, if the resume is loaded with typos and spelling and grammatical errors…PASS.
Sometimes recruiters look for totally different things in resumes, but then it depends on the job requirements, the company culture, and any number of variables.
In general though, the same rule applies: Give a recruiter what they want to see on your resume as quickly and clearly as possible and it will get our attention. Any time over 10 – 30 seconds might just be long enough to find out you should come in for an interview.