Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Read The Resume or Not To Read The Resume

Recently this little nugget found its way to my inbox:

Job recruitment website The Ladders conducted a formal survey of job recruiters using eye-tracking technology to figure out what matters most on your resume. Over the course of ten weeks, actual job recruiters' eye movements were measured as they looked through resumes and online profiles, creating visual heat maps. This allowed researchers to determine how long recruiters spent studying which aspects of resumes, and just as importantly, what content was largely ignored.
A key finding of the study: Recruiters spend nearly 80% of their time focusing on six different areas of a resume. These most-important aspects are:
• your name
• current title/company
• previous title/company
• current position start and end dates
• previous position start and end dates
• education
On average, recruiters spent six seconds sizing up these aspects to make the initial decision on whether to trash your resume or consider you for the position. The study also found that visual features such as pictures, graphs, and ads (on employment-related sites like LinkedIn) are distracting, eating up precious time and reducing the recruiter's decision-making ability.

Assuming I’ve had an adequate amount of caffeine, I can read six items such as these in six seconds. (Or maybe they meant six seconds per item, I can definitely do that…even without caffeine). However, I choose not to read resumes in this fashion. As a headhunter, which is sort of like a “job recruiter” only better, I have a real quick draw when it comes to shooting resumes. I don’t need to look at these six items or any six items to tell if I’m interested. I specialize in recruiting experienced management and executive level talent for transportation, logistics and supply chain management organizations. If you aren’t an experienced manager or executive in transportation, logistics or supply chain management, I don’t need to know your name, where you went to school or anything else. That may seem rude and insensitive, but that’s just the way it is. I look at your current title/company. 99% of the time, that tells me whether or not I want to read more. If it does not, then I look at your previous title and company. If the light does not come on for me at that point, then we’re done.

Thankfully, most of the resumes I receive are from experienced managers and executives who work in transportation, logistics or supply chain management. And after my quick glance to confirm that fact, I tend to spend a lot more than a few seconds reading a resume. The first thing I focus on is work history and the frequency of job changes. If there have been a lot of job changes, I want to know why. We frequently ask candidates to fill out a questionnaire that addresses issues which are generally not covered on the resume. Job changes and the reasons for those changes are a key part of that questionnaire.

The second thing I look at is “career progression”. Whether within the same organization or as the candidate has changed companies, the key question is: Are they moving up, moving down or just moving sideways? And progression is not just job titles. A VP in a small operation may be the equivalent of an Operations Manager in a much larger operation. Experienced headhunters who specialize in particular industries recognize and appreciate the differences between companies and how those differences translate into job titles.

The third thing I look for are responsibilities and accomplishments. I want to know the size and scope of your responsibilities and the more these are expressed in measurables the better. How much revenue, how many direct reports, what size budget, how many locations, etc etc ? Then more importantly, what did you accomplish, what were the results? Grew revenue, lowered costs, improved service, reduced accidents and increased profitability. Positive results will motivate me to interview you. But, be prepared…I will ask HOW you did it. Don’t make up stuff just to load your resume. Headhunters and hiring authorities will want to get “behind” the numbers. They better be real and they better be yours.

So work history, career progression and responsibilities/accomplishments are the big three for me in determining if I should invest time interviewing a candidate. If someone appears to be a dead-on match for an existing job opening, I will likely talk to them even if their resume is “weak” in one or more of these key areas. But regardless of matches with existing openings, if I get a candidate who has a stable work history, a solid record of career progression, has held positions with significant management and/or executive responsibilities and has achieved meaningful business results in those positions, we are going to have a conversation.

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