How to Assess a Resume (in Less Than 6 Seconds)

October 30, 2015

Recruiting is often a battle against the clock.

Sometimes, you have hundreds of applications come in for a single position. Sure, your ATS and resume scanning tools might help, but it still comes down to you sorting through a stack of resumes and finding that needle in the haystack.

The result? Some studies show that the average recruiter spends less than six seconds looking at any one particular resume. The question is this: How do you use those six seconds wisely?

To find out, we turned to Quora, where that exact question was raised. Recruiters from some of the world’s most distinguished companies – Google, Facebook and Microsoft, among others – responded with what they look for in an application.

They said:

1. The companies the person has worked for

Shared by Ambra Benjamin

There’s no denying that someone who worked at Apple is going to get more attention, as an example. That said, you shouldn’t just look for people who have worked for highly-distinguished companies, but also companies that require what you’re looking for in a candidate.

For example, if you’re hiring someone for a logistics role who has to figure out customer service for millions of customers, someone from Amazon is going to have more experience with that than someone from a startup. Conversely, if you’re filling a role where someone will have to wear multiple hats, it makes sense to look for people from a smaller company.

So, yes, if someone has a history of working for highly selective companies, that’s a good sign. But, just as important is someone who works at companies that match what you are looking for.

2. Is the format of the resume strong and is everything spelled correctly

Shared by Robert Meyer

You’ve heard it before, but a well-organized, well-formatted resume is always a positive. Conversely, a resume that’s too hard to read or has typos in it is a clear sign of lack of preparation and professionalism.

3. How often the candidate changes jobs

Shared by Chad Porter

Whenever you hire someone, there’s a substantial investment in onboarding and training, and they often don’t get-up-to-speed until about three to six months into the role.

So you want someone who has a history of spending several years at a company and hopefully will grow at yours, not somebody who consistently switches jobs within a year.

4. Why someone wants to work for your company

Shared by Andy Barton

Admittedly, this is better seen in a cover letter than a resume, but is the cover letter actually customized to the position? Or is it just a general one?

A customized cover letter means the applicant put some real energy into applying for the position and often correlates with more enthusiasm for the role.

But more than that, having a person explain how their experience will help them in the advertised role is a good way to find out if they really understand the position and have the skills needed to excel at it.

5. Real achievements in their work experience

Shared by Michael Wright

There’s a difference between someone who outlines their former job descriptions in their resume and someone who lists real achievements they accomplished in their role.

While that’s a big positive on its own, two other questions are raised: How impressive are those achievements and how closely do the achievements match what’s needed in the role.

The more closely a candidate’s achievements match to the goals of the new position, the higher the chance the candidate will excel in your role.

6. Does the person have an online portfolio

Shared by Benjamin

If you’re hiring a person to run your social media pages, obviously part of their resume should be links to either their own personal social media pages or social media pages they run. A designer should have their own website or, at the least, a portfolio of their own work.

Studies show that a work sample is one of the best ways to screen candidates, and the most passionate applicants will have some examples of that as part of their application. If they do, that’s a plus on its own; and if they are brilliant, than they are certainly worth an interview.

*Image from weknowmemes

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