recruiterEvery job seeker sending in a resume to a potential employer wants to believe there’s actually someone on the receiving end that reads their entire resume word-for-word. The reality is, your resume will most likely never be read in its entirety – especially in today’s competitive job market. Most employers are overwhelmed with the number of applicants they get for each job, most of whom aren’t remotely qualified.

Unfortunately, in this point-and-click world of online applications, most people apply to hundreds of jobs knowing they’re not qualified. They’re just hoping to get lucky.

Typically, resumes arrive by email and someone looks at each one but because of the volume, they must make a judgment on each one quickly – typically around six seconds is given per resume. The reader then decides if each candidate is worth further consideration. All of this is decided by a brief scan, trying to determine if the person has the relevant background and experience for the role. If they don’t see any connection between background and experience and the job requirements, they immediately move on because there are plenty more to review.

So how are resumes typically reviewed? How do they make those snap decisions with just a quick scan? Here’s a few tips on how recruiters review resumes:

  1. They scan the document to see if there are any related keywords in the resume that are apparent. Most have to do with skills, tools, processes etc., giving preference to recent experience vs. history from years ago. If not, they move on. If so…
  2. They continue to look for any applicable education, certifications, or other required criteria. If not, they move on. If so…
  3. That resume gets placed in the “maybe” pile and they will come back to reevaluate it and compare it to the other resumes that end up in the “maybe” pile.

This might make the employer/recruiter seem a little cruel and heartless but they’re not. Is this a flawed system? Sure, but as of now, there isn’t another way to deal with the immense volume of job applicants that cross a recruiter’s desk.

So how do you make your resume stand out?

Your resume needs to scream “I’m a fit!” in that first initial scan! So, make your work history relevant and clear. Be sure to format your skills, experience and certifications so they jump out. Write in brief, concise phrases so they are easily digested in the first scan. Don’t use long sentences or paragraphs.

If you can begin to understand the typical process an employer takes when reviewing resumes, you can be more strategic to give yourself a better chance of being selected.