Monday, April 16, 2012

Research - What Recruiters Look At in Resume Scans

Just in time for the next batch of graduates, and following on the previous post on resumes, comes a research report from TheLadders.
  The study followed 30 professional recruiters as they did their jobs over a 10 week period.  One result, that recruiters spend an average of just six seconds on a resume before they make an initial decision on whether the candidate is a possible fit or not.  The study also used eye-tracking to record where they looked, and for how long, when they examined resumes.
In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.
  The two resumes pictured give an example of the "heat map" of the recruiter's eye movements.  The study found that the resume to the far right was looked at more thoroughly, and for a longer time.  They suggest that was due to the clear and concise format that made it easier to locate "the most relevant information, like skills and experience"
  One piece of advice coming out of the research was that you should make it easier for recruiters to find pertinent information by creating a resume with a clear visual hierarchy. 
  Another post mentioned some other resume no-nos -
  • Get rid of the "Objective" - If you applied, it's already obvious you want the job, and if it's not what you applied for, they'll wonder why you've wasted their time.
  • Separate relevant from irrelevant work experiences and consider leaving the irrelevant off.  Also, don't list hobbies or volunteer work unless they involve relevant skills
  • Don't include personal info, particularly social security numbers
  • Offer, but don't list, references - unless they specifically ask for them.  (And make sure the people you list are aware that you've listed them, and that they'll say good things)
  • Make sure you list an email address, and make it "professional"
  • If you're looking for a new job while already employed, don't include current business contact info (unless they know you're looking).
  • Keep it to one page

Sources - What Recruiters Look At During The 6 Seconds They Spend on Your ResumeBusiness Insider
11 Things You Should Never Put on Your Resume, Business Insider


  1. I think this was a very good post because i a lot of the information it says to get rid of is what i actually have on my resume. I assumed that workers and want to see that you were involved in college with the volunteer work as well as previous jobs and personal information. This post has defiantly made see i need to go back and check over my resume before i keep sending it out. I was aware that most employers don't want resumes to be so lengthy and long but more precise and to the point. Very good blog post again!

  2. This is a great post for those looking for work in corporate America. Although, I would be curious to see if the recruiters had the opportunity to look at creatively formatted resumes, like those for graphic designers, architects, and photographers. I think the point of creating a clear visual hierarchy is important regardless. However, for those of us seeking employment in more visually creative fields, it would be nice to get tips on setting yours apart from the flood of other interestingly designed resumes.
    -Josef Beal
    Also, I'm glad Business Insider suggests we get rid of the "objective." It never really made sense to me anyway.

  3. Wow, what a neat post and particularly pertinent subject to students at the University of Tennessee. As a JEM 499'er, I am an upperclassman who must have a resume ready on paper in the next year or two, if not sooner. This information not only gives bullets to what is necessary and erroneous, but with the use of science, clearly shows that bunched up, lengthy information can only hurt a prospective employee. Sometimes in academics - and certainly with job applications - there is a quality over quantity notion that rings true in the overall process. Whether you are a photographer, business major, architect or journalist, these guidelines show that attention grabbers may be the subtraction of useless information after all.

  4. I've talked to a few different people and I disagree with the idea that you have to keep your resume to one page. My resume comes in at a page and a half. All of my work experience has either been writing or organizing/clerical type things, and those skills are imperative as a journalist. In my latest job interview, the editor literally said "Wow, everything you've done has had an aspect relevant to writing." It wasn't an issue for her at all that I had a two page resume, and in a follow-up phone interview, I was specifically asked about work experience on the second page.

    Some pretty good tips I've gotten as far as writing a good resume for a journalist is to dump that stupid objective statement and have a qualifications statement instead. It's a place to list your biggest accomplishments.

    I have two separate sections for work and editorial experience. Under editorial experience, I list what I've done at the News Sentinel, the Tennessee Journalist and the Amplifier. I have a second section called work experience where I list the jobs I've had with Disability Services, Hodges Library, and a clerical job I held for most of high school. Editorial experience is listed right under education. Work experience is listed last.

    I feel like resume writing has few set in stone rules and the rest of it just has to be tailored to the organization you're sending it to. Obviously, a resume I sent to Metro Pulse could have some flair to it, but to apply at KNS, I would need to stay more reserved. I have one carnation of my resume, and I'm getting ready to make some other versions.

  5. When it comes to resumes, I have heard many different thoughts on how it "should" be done. I like this article because it seems the closest to what I have been told to do. However, I do believe that based on where you are applying, the place will be looking for different type of resumes. Some might want an Objective, some might want one page, etc. What is really cool about this article is how they were able to point out exactly where the eyes of the people looked. Cool article!

    -David Comm

  6. Resumes are an integral part of the job hunt. Having worked in Human Resources and being a frequent visitor to Career Services at UT, I understand the need to develop an appealing resume. Sometimes though, it seems like it becomes more about the format of the resume and less about the actual content. I am sure plenty of qualified candidates get overlooked each year because their resume (in the eyes of the interviewer)is sub-par. This angers me because everyone has a different idea of what is and is not acceptable on a resume. I would much rather be able to discuss my qualifications rather than placing them on a flat sheet of paper because potential employers will never be able to understand the depth (or lack thereof) of experiences that are listed.