How Hiring Managers & Recruiters Screen/Read Resumes

Updated: Nov 7, 2019


Since time to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers is limited—recruiters spend roughly 6 seconds looking at your resume—the assistance of a professional resume writer could mean the difference between landing an interview or in the pass pile.


Time-crunched recruiters don’t have the capacity to thoroughly read each one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes that cross their desks; rather, they quickly scan them searching for key information. A study from the jobsite Ladders found that recruiters spend 80% of their time reviewing just six areas on your resume—making a well-organized and strategically presented resume critical to standing out in a competitive job market.


Since time to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers is limited—the same Ladders study found that recruiters spend roughly 6 seconds looking at your resume—the assistance of a professional resume writer could mean the difference between landing an interview or in the pass pile.



The Six Areas Recruiters are Interested In:


  1. Name

  2. Current title/company

  3. Previous title/company

  4. Previous position start and end dates

  5. Current position start and end dates

  6. Education



Name


Obviously your resume should have a name on it because employers want to know who they’re looking at. But a resume is a marketing tool, not a legal document, so keep it informal—your goal is to be approachable and memorable. If your name is Robert Smith but everyone calls you Bob, then use Bob. Trust me, no one will care that the name on your resume doesn’t match the name on your driver’s license. Also, skip the “Jr.,” “III,” and “IV,” as they just add clutter.


Unfortunately, discrimination still occurs with hiring managers and recruiters. If you’re a female applying for a position in a male-dominated field, you might benefit from cunningly crafting your name. For example, Christine becomes Chris. The same can be said for ethnic names; a 2003 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that resumes with very “white-sounding” names receive 50% more callbacks for interviews than resumes with very African American-sounding names. If you believe your name is holding you back, DeShawn easily becomes Shawn.


In some instances, your gender or ethnic-sounding name is an advantage, since many companies, industries, and business are on the hunt for diverse candidates. This highlights the importance of researching the fields, businesses, and jobs you’re applying to. Names—and the biases toward them—are one of the most sensitive areas of resume writing, and a trusted resume writing service is helpful for navigating what should be the most straightforward element of your resume.



Current Title and Company


Your current job title and the first few bullet points are likely to be the part of your resume where potential employers spend the most time. Looking at your current title and company is where recruiters determine your relevancy to the position you’re applying for. Are you working in a similar field or role? Is the job commensurate with your skills and experience? Does the job you’re applying for line up with a logical career timeline?


You only have a few lines to wow, so steer clear of text and use bullet points to pop off the page. Metrics are easier to read than text, so here’s the place for your eye-popping achievement—Increased sales 15% in a down market.



Previous Title and Company


Similar to your current title and company, your previous title and company helps recruiters and hiring managers put your career in context. The best resume writers understand that a resume with relevant skills, experience, and achievements is more likely to get a thorough read from potential employers, and here is another great place to play up your fit.

Make past employers’ names and old job titles easy to find and highlight your best achievements in bullets below them. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers are interested in achievers and numbers are eye-catching in a text-heavy document like a resume.



Previous Position Start/End Dates & Current Position Start/End Dates


Your employment experience is the easiest way for potential employers to understand your career trajectory. This is why reverse-chronological resumes are so popular with recruiters and hiring managers—they demonstrate where you are and how you got there.


Consequently, functional resumes that hide this information are the ire of many recruiters. If you do have a concern over an issue, such as an employment gap, a certified resume writer can help you craft a resume that’s optimized to highlight your relevant skills and achievements while not irking employers.


Recruiters and hiring managers only have so much time to spend on each resume, so don’t bog them down with a comprehensive work history unless it’s needed. If a senior position requires 20 years of experience, your resume should reflect that. However, in most cases your most recent positions, those within the last 10 to 15 years, will be what interests potential employers. Once again, relevancy is key.



Education


If your resume is formatted in reverse chronological order, like the vast majority of resumes are, your education is at the bottom of the document. Bold the name of the university you graduated from to make it easy to find and list your degree next to it. If you are a recent college graduate, you may want to put your college degree at the top of your resume, as it’s likely that your education is more relevant to the job you’re applying for than your work experience. Unless you’re a recent college grad, delete the year you graduated.



The Takeaway


The results of the Ladder study I mentioned way back in the opening paragraph also revealed that recruiters were able to more easily find the information they were looking for when a resume was professionally crafted. Working with resumes day in and day out, the best resume writers, like the ones at SoCalResumes are intimately familiar with how employers screen resumes and can tailor resumes to their tendencies. If you want to shorten your job search or land your dream job, contact a reputable resume writing service like us to stand out from the crowd.


Click on the following link for more resume-writing and LinkedIn profile development advice.

Need help with your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile? Our SoCalResumes professional resume writers can help!

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