A Recruiter’s Resume Review – The 30-Second Challenge

People Science Reimagining Talent Acquisition

The job description of a recruiter is no secret. We dive into hundreds of resumes a day, either searching for or reviewing, resumes that have been submitted for our available positions. What makes this physically possible is our elusive 30-second resume review. A good recruiter will spend no more than 30 seconds giving an initial glance at a resume before deciding to screen an applicant out or file for further review. As recruiters, we all have our own methods of what makes our 30-second review possible, and I will share my tactics with you:

Keywords. If I am looking through resumes I haven’t sourced through Boolean threads, I am glancing over for keywords. No matter what role I am recruiting for, there are certain duties or titles that are required to make a candidate qualified. If I overlook a resume and don’t see a single keyword match, sorry, but I’m on to the next one.  The opposite cannot be weeded out as I have run Boolean searches where resumes aggregate and, once reviewed, I notice the keywords are implanted to populate in my searches rather than having the authentic experience. Tricky, tricky, but that doesn’t work either. There’s no way around this, either a candidate has the experience or not. Fluff is a waste of time.

Multiple-page Resumes. I do not care for these. If a candidate has been in their field for 20+ years, it’s a definite that they have some extensive experience under their belt. I don’t need to see the job details of their first position in 1992, or see that they have held similar duties at three of the five jobs listed on the resume. A well written resume should flow smoothly, highlighting the most credible duties and position growth. A short, concise resume is going to get further under my eyes than one that has me scrolling page after page looking for what I need.

Objective and Cover Letters. This is a debate for the ages between recruiters. Some are on team objective, some are on team cover letters. Me? I am team neither. I want to see the resume, I want to read about previous experience. I want the meaty details that set a candidate above the other fifty resumes I have just sorted through. It is my personal belief that anyone can compose an intellectual, sincere letter or opening sentence that radiates the essence of why a candidate is the perfect choice or how the position I am recruiting for encompasses everything the candidate wants to fulfill within their career. In all honesty, I don’t buy it. I don’t waste my time reading them. Perhaps this is pessimism shining through, or maybe I am a realist, a debate for a future time but a significant aspect of my 30-second resume review.

Layout. It is not a necessity to have a fancy formatted resume; unless you are in the modeling industry, it baffles me when I see a candidate’s photo in the top left corner. What is necessary, however, is to have a resume that is easily read. Walking hand in hand with a multiple-page resume, if a resume is not formatted and I have to try and decipher which job descriptions pertain to a job title like some sort of word match game, I am again passing up the resume. A poorly put together resume doesn’t speak volumes to me in terms of a candidate’s organizational skills.

As I stated, every recruiter has their own method of what composes their 30-second review. Keywords and how a resume reads are the heart of mine. Once a resume has caught my eye, I will return to it prior to speaking to the candidate and educate myself as well as research previous experience to ensure they are a good match. There are definitely many times that I discontinue a resume after initially deeming a match because after further research the candidate really doesn’t align well with what I am recruiting for., But overall, having a keen eye and being able to sort through resumes quickly and efficiently are a large role in a recruiters life.

By Jaclyn Gallo | People Science Talent Advisor – Sourcing Specialist


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