From the Recruiter's Perspective — Why Each Resume Has to be Carefully Crafted
Ever since employers began advertising for candidates, they've been plagued by how to handle large numbers of applicants. This was true when the prevelent form of advertising was in your local paper's Sunday classifieds. It became an even more significant issue with the advent of Internet postings.
If your first approach to an employer is by submitting your resume in response to an ad or posting, you're often going to be competing with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other candidates. I hear from fellow recruiters that it’s not unusual to receive 650 or so resumes per job advertised.Microsoft is rumored to scan 1,000 resumes / hour into their system.
Recruiters reviewing all those resumes will be going through them as quickly as possible to identify the few people they’re interested in tracking down for an interview.Each resume will have ~5-10 seconds to catch the recruiter’s attention.Following the resume writing steps I'm going to give you should improve your chances of snagging more attention.
So that you better understand the role your resume plays if submitting your resume is going to be your first approach to an employer, picture this: Sally recruiter gets assigned to make the hire for the position in which you're interested. She places her advertising and receives 650 resumes to review. Even at 5 seconds per resume, that’s about one hour’s reading time just to plow through the stack that's come in.Most recruiters handle many more than one job opening and Sally's no different. She's got another 14 jobs she's working to fill. If all of her jobs provide the same approximate numbers of candidates, Sally's going to spend at least 15 hours pawing through all of her resumes. Please note that I said "pawing through" and not reading. That 15 hours doesn't provide enough time to actually completely read any of the 9,750 resumes sitting in her email or on her desk.
So, after sorting through her resume pile, Sally then tacks on some time for carefully reading or re-reading the best resumes, tracking the best people down, screening them, arranging for them to come in and interview, going over the resumes and her interview notes with her hiring managers in order to select the best candidates, setting up interview schedules and making travel arrangements, walking candidates through interviews (making sure everyone in the loop has everyone's resume), debriefing everyone who was on the interview loops, running reference checks and other background checks, cutting and negotiating offers, helping on-board new hires, pulling advertising, turning down the other 9,735 candidates, getting those people into the tracking system for future reference, recording statistical information required by the government and her company, and, at some point or the other, stopping to take a breath.
There are only officially 40 hours in a work week.Many recruiters work significantly more than that and still can't keep up with their workload.Sadly, what that means to you as a candidate is that not all recruiters have enough time to read carefully through each and every resume they see.So, if the information that will lead to getting you an interview can't be spotted in 5-10 seconds, you won’t be called.
Recruiters don't intentionally not read your entire resume and not take time to interpret what value you may have for the position they're trying to fill. They just don't have a lot of time to humanly process all the information hitting their desk.
"OK!" you say. "So, I won't get in the door by responding to a job posting. I'll hang my resume on a bunch of job boards and stick a bare-bones profile on LinkedIn and people will find me." Maybe. But the numbers are even worse on the boards. Most major boards brag about having the resumes of millions of candidates. LinkedIn's even worse. Recruiters have to ferret your resume out of a database to review it. Now you've got to make the search engine think you're one of the 2,000 people it wants to show the recruiter AND you've still got to meet the 5 seconds / resume recruiter review challenge. Not thinking of boards, but building your own website? The numbers get even worse and all the other stuff about search engines and resume reviews still applies.
"Fine," you grouse."Job boards are becoming passe anyway. I'll get introduced through networking, launch a direct mail campaign or bang on doors." If you're successful in doing that, kudos to you! Who knows? Maybe it was the recruiter who cold-called you to see if you'd be interested in their job. Or, maybe you're in a discrete industry that employs only 500 people worldwide so the 650 numbers don't count for you. OK. But remember — at some point in your interview process your resume is still most likely going to figure in. And, if your resume isn't competitive and / or doesn't reinforce all the good communications you've done to get someone interested in you as a candidate in the first place, you still won't get the job. Your resume's still going to have to grab several readers' attention and make them interested in learning more about you as a candidate. It's going to have to substantiate that you'd be a good hire for the company. Whether the reader is a recruiter, hiring manager or the president of the company. It's just that important.
Here's an extra little extra tidbit from the recruiter's perspective. I've seen many hiring managers go through resumes much more harshly than a recruiter would. Maybe because the hiring manager hasn't had to read through all 650 posting respondents' resumes, making a mental comparison of worst to best candidates. Maybe because the hiring manager has to work on a daily basis with the person they select and they're looking for anything at all that will cause them to worry about the hiring decision. Maybe because they just have to look at the few resumes that have been selected for them and have a bit more time to be extra careful in reading through them. Whatever. Don't think that if you "get by the recruiter" you're a shoe-in for a new position. The hiring manager is going to expect to see a fit for their position on your resume, too.
Lately there's been a lot of blather about resumes being "dead." Nonsense. When hiring managers quit asking me for resumes, I'll believe they no longer have any merit. That hasn't happened yet. Maybe it will. But, stop to consider the pundits who are putting forth such ideas. What do they have to gain if resumes go away? Maybe they're hoping you'll be attracted to their video "resume" website? Maybe they want you to add another profile somewhere? Maybe they want you to attend their seminar on cold calling employers? Usually they've got some personal agenda in mind. It may or may not have anything realistic about you getting the job you want. Taking advantage of some of these new job hunting approaches might help. But, sooner or later, someone's going to ask you for your resume. You'd better have a good one ready when asked.