Do you know what a recruiter looks for when they review a resume? How do they decide which applicant will get an interview? Have you ever thought what it takes to make your particular resume stand out from everyone else’s and get onto the interview short list?
We asked 20 different recruiters how much time they spent reviewing resumes and found all took about the same time on the first review. Between 10 and 20 seconds. This is how long they spent scanning your document to see if you are in the ballpark for a second look. Not long, is it?
As the first and only thing that the recruiter usually sees about an applicant, your resume has to make an impact fast. With the recruiters perhaps having over 100 applications to review, you do not get a second chance.
“..you have between 10 and 20 seconds to make an impact"
Remember, they are looking for reasons to exclude applicants at this stage so do not give them that excuse. Our Recruiters all shared the same checklist approach when reviewing resumes....so if you follow the same checklist, you have a better chance of making that interview short list:
- Do you match the brief? The job market is very competitive these days. Think carefully about whether it is worth applying for those ‘long-shots’. If you simply don't fit, you will not get an interview.
- Assuming that you match the brief that the hirer has given in their job advertisement, make it obvious that you do. If the job ad asks for certain experience and skills, you should concentrate on those. If you have what is specifically being asked for, make it abundantly clear that you are a strong fit to the requirements.
- Focus on strongly quantified achievements. Do not write your resume as a list of duties and responsibilities. Instead pick out career achievements which match the requirements and that you can quantify and show success with.
- Summary up front. State your claim to the role by summarizing how and why you fit the brief right at the top of the document. That is the first thing that will be read, so gives you a chance to make a strong first impression.
- Your resume must be easy to read and logically structured. It does not have to be beautiful, but clutter and unnecessary information will cloud your claim to the opportunity.
- Make sure your personal contact telephone, email and address details are easy to find. Do not use a work email address or phone number and no silly personal email addresses.
- Be 100% accurate in spelling and grammar. Use a spell check and ask a friend to proof read for you. Mistakes in this area reflect very badly on you.
This is how all the recruiters we spoke to reviewed resumes. What it effectively means is that every time you apply, you should tailor your resume to suit or you probably will not get the interview.
And a final thought: If you can, use a strong cover letter personally addressed to the hiring manager and pointing out how good a match you are for the job. This can be particularly persuasive if you are missing one or two attributes listed in the job ad but are an otherwise excellent fit.