How do recruiters review your resume?
I really liked this article from Brad Remillard at Impact Hiring. Here he is really honest about how he, as a recruiter, reviews a resume. He says he doesn’t give a resume in 20 seconds to make an impact. He actually reviews an entire resume in 20 seconds. He gives you and your resume 5 – 7 seconds to pass the first cull.
Those numbers again. That’s 5 -7 seconds – per resume – to make an impact. Twenty seconds for a full review.
If Brad is reviewing hundreds of resumes, he’s looking first up for a quick match with what the client wants, who you are and what you offer. Here is his order of knock out blows:
- Location – you need to be close to the role location
- Industry background
- Your role/ function
- Your title or your level
- How recent is your experience?
- Turnover – are you a job hopper?
- Is your resume a functional resume, rather than presented chronologically? Brad doesn’t like functional resumes, as he suggests you’re hiding something
- Format – spelling, grammar, consistent presentation
So if you want to pass the recruiter resume review test you have to make it easy for them to make a quick decision on your resume. That’s the obvious message dealt with.
The other thing to think about here is that hiring someone is a risky and expensive business. Recruiter’s fees often start at 10% of your salary. Technology now allows for many employers to do their own hiring easily. So often they are asking recruiters to be their eyes and ears in the market beyond what they can do themselves.
If the employer is paying a high fee, what they want from a recruiter is the ideal match for their requirements. So if the recruiter can’t find this through an advertisement, instead of broadening the net of skills they’ll consider, the recruiter may simply head hunt. It’s a recruitment “truism” that the best people are working.
Generally this means, no matter how confident you are that you can do the role the recruiter advertises, if you are not the ideal match on your paper resume, you will find it very difficult to convince them. This will be even harder if there are several people in the mix who are a closer match.
A recruitment consultant will generally offer their client a guarantee that you are the right person for that role. If you leave the role within three months, they attribute that to a poor hiring decision – perhaps you are not skilled enough for the role. Beyond three months your reasons for leaving may have more to do with something internal to the company. The recruiter has sold their recruitment skills to the employer. So they may be even more conservative in hiring than the employer would be. Your match for the role is the recruiter’s reputation
What I am trying to say, in a long winded way, is that you present less risk to the recruiter if you are already doing a role close to their advertised role, or a large part of your role covers that. The guarantee that the recruiter offers their client, is that they will replace you, if you don’t work out. They’ve earned their fee once they will not earn it again if they have to replace you.
So what’s the take out here?
If you are applying for a role, make sure your resume reflects what’s advertised. Make sure you include the key words and phrases. Use recruitment consultants as just one part of your job searching strategy as they don’t hold all the jobs in the market. If you can call the recruiter, try to connect with the recruiter, so they can see you are human, not just a static piece of paper.
Don’t take it so personally if you can’t convince them to look at you. The entire formal recruitment process is built around minimising risk.