In seminars and workshops, I am always asked what job seekers should know when writing their resumes. In my opinion the most important thing someone writing a resume needs to know is how the people who screen resumes for a living are trained to do their job.
You see, when you are tasked with having to screen 100 or more resumes a day for a single job, and you’re trying to fill multiple jobs at the same time, you look at resumes differently than someone who has the luxury of reading 5 or 6 resumes cover to cover for one job, or someone who has never screened a resume in their life.
I can not impart my many years of experience as a high-volume recruiter to you in writing. However, I can give you a glimpse of how I and others like me have been trained to screen resumes as the integral part of our job.
Based on my experience as a recruiter and trainer and input from several colleagues who are executive recruiters and HR talent acquisition specialist who review upwards of 1,000 resumes a week, here is a brief outline of how we screen resumes. I hope this insight helps you.
1: The resume review process begins well before we have a hard or electronic copy in front of us.
The first step we take is to review the job description and/or employee profile to understand who we or our client wants to hire and why. We also determine why this position has become available because this affects the person and skill sets that are essential for success.
2: We develop a Key List that clearly defines the most important selection criteria and their importance. This list generally includes:
a) The most important personal characteristics or character traits
b) The most important business and technical skill sets
c) The most relevant experience
d) The desired educational level
e) A track record of desirable accomplishments
When dealing with high volume this list instills discipline into the review process and helps us highlight valuable criteria to use in comparing similar candidates when we look to pare the list down to the final contenders.
We scan each resume quickly (20-40 seconds) to see what type of overall impression this applicant makes on us compared to others candidate for the same position. We pay close attention to what the visual presentation says about the person, whether it makes a flawless presentation, and how professional is their attention to detail.
In the first skim, we look for and check off the easy-to-find qualifications such as education and the basic business and technical skills.
Next, we read their profile statement to see how professional they come across and if they have the background we are looking for in a potential hire. We pay particular attention to whether the resume has a fresh customized approach or if it is a stale template. This says a lot about the person who submitted it.
Next, we look for bullet points and/or key words that describe whether the person has the exact or at least related experience to qualify them for the job.
Finally, we review their prior accomplishments and contributions. This is the deal maker or deal breaker.
We do this all in less than one minute.
The important fact for you to consider is this: since the pool of quality candidates is so deep, people who screen resumes for a living today are not afraid to weed out a quality candidate if their resume does not sparkle. Since the odds are they will reach their quota of top notch candidates to bring in for a personal interview, they are not afraid of repercussions if they inadvertently overlook 3 or more “superstars” who came across as pretenders rather than top contenders.
Now that you know a little about how the people who will screen your resume, think put this information to good use when you attempt to write your own resume. I suggest you use this knowledge when you gather information to put into your resume and when you work on how to best present information to pass the 20-40 second test.
Perry Newman, CPC CSMS is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, career coach, AIPC certified recruiter and SMMU certified social media strategist known for his ability to help his clients get results. You can view his sample resumes at http://www.perrynewman.com, and email him your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE resume critique.
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