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Spend on average 10 – 20 Seconds Reading Resumes

The 10 or 20 seconds it takes to read a resume seems to always generate a lot of controversy. Candidates comment on how disrespectful it is, how one can’t possibly read a resume in that time and some get angry at recruiters when we talk about this. I hope this article will help everyone understand how we do this.

First, let me say I’ve been a recruiter for 30 years. I’m sure I have reviewed over 500,000 resumes. I can’t prove this but I’m reasonably confident that this is the case, as this is only an average of about 46 a day. I know many days I have reviewed hundreds of resumes and most in less than 20 seconds. I would say the average is probably around 5 to 7 seconds.

So for the record when you hear or read about, “reading a resume in 20 seconds,” that isn’t completely true. It is more than likely, “reviewed the resume in 20 seconds.”

Here is my process for getting through 100’s of resumes in a short period of time. Others may have different ways and I welcome your comments.

I set up a hierarchy of certain “must haves” or you’re out, so at first I’m really just box checking. Generally, 80% of the time these are my knock out blows. There are exceptions to each of these, but I’m dealing with the 80/20 rule.

Must Haves -  these are contained in the Job Advertisment or Selection Criteria if I dont see these on your resume as I am scanning your out.

Recent Experience -  If I’m searching for someone with sales experience and your last sales position was 20 years ago – goodbye.

Turnover - If you have had 6 jobs in the last 4 years, or have a track record of high turnover goodbye.

I realise there are good reasons for turnover and that falls into the 20% of the 80/20 rule. I can’t define high turnover, but I know it when I see it.

Obvious things - such as, spelling errors, poor format, errors in grammar, too long, verbose and rambling- goodbye

If after scanning the resume or selection criteria I still can’t figure out what you do, goodbye.

After this, 80 % plus have been eliminated. If there are any left, then I will take the time to actually read them in detail.

Brad Remillard




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