Everywhere I’ve turned this week, either talking to people or reading online, I’ve been hearing that recruiters make a decision about your resume in less than 6 seconds. Wow – that’s scary! It used to be 30 seconds, and that was bad enough. At first it might seem that the logical response would be to make sure that your resume is really short, but is that really going to be helpful in the long run??

My understanding is that when an employer or recruiter first reviews their latest stack of resumes to fill a position for themselves or a client, they are looking to create a shortlist of applications to give more attention to. 100 needs to be reduced to 20, then 10 then five. As they scan each document, they are literally looking for any excuse to eliminate that application – it might be simple things such as a spelling mistake as this reflects on your attention to detail, or long winded paragraphs in a tiny font as this reflects on your decision making skills. Not listing your achievements could also be enough to see your application given the flick.  My guess is that in this early stage of the process, the reader may not even look at the name on the resume! But why?

Because their focus is on skills – they want to know if candidates have the skills and attitudes they are looking for. Interestingly, knowledge and experience can sometimes run a poor second to skills and attitudes. Many a job has been offered to the person who may not have the level of skills and experience as another more “qualified” applicant, but through their interactions with the employer, either in person, on the phone or on paper, they have communicated their interest and willingness to learn, to be trained in a specific area.

As the process continues, resumes are sorted into three self-explanatory piles – yes, no and maybe. Now is when the resumes are re-read, this time in much more detail. Where the first read only took six seconds, the second read takes much longer… more next week.

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