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Employer, how much time do you spend looking at resumes?

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How much time reviewing resumes?As professional resume writers, we coach job seekers that they need to keep in mind the short time a resume is reviewed. Here’s a question from my AmeriCorps session:

I recently read an article that said most HR people only look at resumes for about 6 seconds.

What can a person do to make their resume stick out when a resume is only looked at for 6 seconds?

How to make your resume memorable?

My answer has always been that you need to make sure that you address the position you are targeting and reinforce your resume with a tight branding statement, targeted keywords, and clear cut accomplishments that verify that you can do the job.

In fact, I wrote a whole series on how to do this in the Top 10 Resume Tips:

  1. Top 10 Resume tip #10 – Is your resume format interesting and readable?
  2. Top 10 Resume Tip #9 – Use a font size people can actually read!
  3. Top 10 Resume Tip #8 – Focus the resume
  4. Top 10 Resume Tip #7 – Check your Contact Info
  5. Top 10 Resume Tip #6 – Use Power Verbs!
  6. Top 10 Resume Tip #5 – Use Selected Highlights
  7. Top 10 Resume Tip #4 – Use a Banner Headline
  8. Top 10 Resume Tip #3 – Use Industry Keywords
  9. Top 10 Resume Tip #2 – Use Quantifiable Accomplishments
  10. Top 10 Resume Tip #1 – Answer why should I hire you?

Following those 10 tips will make your resume memorable. In addition, you need to realize that some of the readers of your resume are not human. Often, they are computers. The Application Tracking Systems (ATS) systems have dehumanized the initial screening and filter your resume out if you don’t meet the keyword recommendations for the positions especially at large companies.

But all resumes are not screened by computers and all companies don’t use ATS systems. When you use networking and relationship building to fuel your job search, you are more likely to have your resume read by a human.

What if the employer has a mindset against spending any time on a resume?

When I spoke at Rasmussen College on Diversity on the Workplace, specifically targeting age issues, this 6 second question came up and a woman in the back said that she only spends 3 seconds. This same woman told me she struggled with the younger generation who research said always wants praise. She read a study that said that all Generation X and Y people have to be praised continuously.

(I don’t think she’s right. From my years of conducting DISC assessments, I know that there are personality types who do thrive on positive feedback (praise) as a means of knowing they are doing their job correctly. I’m one of those people who needs positive feedback but I am 56. I don’t think there are whole generations that have to be praised non stop or they won’t work.

Someone who spends 3 seconds on resumes (and this person insisted she was such an accurate judge of character that she never gave the resume another glance) sounds like she throws out the resumes of people who potentially could be the best employees. Next she stereotypes the rest of them so that they didn’t have a chance to succeed. I got a strong feeling she didn’t believe in any positive reinforcement or reading a resume long enough to understand the value-offered proposition.

Personally, I believe that employers need to spend more time on resumes and more time understanding the employee value. Fast screening processes make it easier to eliminate people but it also increases the chance that you will lose the best quality employee because you tossed too fast. I know there is high volume of applications but I also see hiring as an investment in the future of your company. And really – a little praise now and then is not such a bad idea!

Stuck in your job search or existing position? Don’t know how to get unstuck? Hire an expert to do it for you. You will hit your target much more quickly and be doing what you do best instead of trying to figure your way through the job search maze. To find out how, Click here!

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11 Responses to Employer, how much time do you spend looking at resumes?

  1. I think it definitely takes more time to write a custom resume, but, it’s worth the effort, especially when applying for jobs that are a perfect match for your qualifications and experience.

    • You have the right idea. You don’t have to recreate the whole resume each time but customizing to make sure you emphasize your matches is important.

      Thanks for stopping by, Nolan!

  2. I might be in a minority but as someone who reads resumes every day I look for something that stands out from the bland selection of resumes that follow the “best practice” guidelines and the drab corporate format.

    Saying that, in some industries to stand out from the crowd all you need is a well formatted and written cv!

    • I agree, Laura, and I think you will find that most of pro resume writers stay away from bland and drab corporate.

      There is such variation from the old format messy resumes that people try to create themselves to well-done, well-researched strategic documents.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Someone who reads resumes every day I look for something that stands out from the bland selection of resumes that follow the “best practice” guidelines and the drab corporate format.

  4. Thanks for sharing some important sample and tips of creating an interesting resume. Resume is very important when searching for a job so it is necessary that a resume must be excellent. By just your sample, it gives a lot guide to other individuals.

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