Your resume will often be your first opportunity to try and secure a job interview. That same resume will go through multiple elimination rounds before any job interview invitation is extended. The process is brutal, and it needs to be so that recruiters are able to narrow down to a handful of candidates, who on paper at least, match the needs of the job description.
So how to you ensure your resume is not eliminated at each review? You need to understand the process of how recruiters review and eliminate resumes. You need to know the easy mistakes they are looking for and you must make sure your resume is free of them.
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The Cold Hard Truth About How Recruiters Eliminate Resumes
Off course there is no one process followed by all recruiters but there are a number of key steps that all recruiters will go through to help them narrow down the hundreds of resumes they receive for every job. The main thing to remember is, they are looking for a reason to eliminate you so every detail on your resume matters.
- 1. Run Resume Screening Software
Most medium to large size companies will employ some kind of resume screening software as the first step in the resume elimination process. If you send your resume online or fill in an online application you can almost guarantee your resume will be screened by a robot first. Hundreds of resumes are rejected in this first step. To understand exactly how the software works, as well as the things it likes and what it really hates, have a read of our post – How to Get Your Resume Selected by Resume Screening Software.
Common mistakes that will guarantee your resume is eliminated by the software include:
A Generic Resume – You must always customized to the job description
Not enough keywords relating to the job description and industry
Hard to Scan – too many paragraphs and not enough bullet points
Bad Formatting – complex fonts, images and unfriendly file formats like PDF or JPG (always save as a doc file)
Poor Spelling – the software ignores words spelt incorrectly
- 2. Use The 30 Second Resume Test
Once the software review is complete, the recruiter will go through a first round review of the remaining resumes. This is not an in depth look at every resume left, it is another cull of as many unsuitable resumes as possible. The recruiter will spend anywhere between 15-40 seconds on each resume focussing on the following:
Who is this person? Recruiters scan page 1 to find your name, current role, current company, key skills and experience.
What level of education do they have? They will look to see if your educational qualifications meet the need of the role.
Do their skills and experience specifically match the job specification?
If all these are not easily identified in 30 seconds the resume is discarded. If your resume is too long, not concise or is hard to read in any way you will not make it through this round.
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- 3. Scan For Red Flags
Once the basic information is identified, recruiters will then look for any obvious red flags. These don’t mean you are not fit for the job, it just means there are things in your resume that need explaining which takes time and effort. There are plenty of resumes which do not, so yours will be eliminated. Common resume red flags include:
Location – if you live too far away relocation becomes a complication they don’t need
Employment gaps – unexplained gaps look like you are trying to hide something
Functional instead of chronological format – as above, it looks like you are trying to bury or hide something from your history
Unprofessional email address – this just looks bad
High job turnover – makes you look like a difficult or unsettled employee
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- 4. Read And Review
If your resume makes it through the first 3 elimination rounds it means you really understand how to put together a good resume. The read and review phase is where the recruiter will actually give your resume the time and attention you were hoping it would receive all along. The recruiter will now read each resume carefully as detailed below.
Compare each resume to the job description
Review accomplishments and results
Create a yes and maybe pile
Eliminate any resumes that are in the no pile
Repeat the read and review process but this time compare the resumes to identify the front runners
As you can see, your resume must make it through 4 rounds of elimination before you are invited in for a job interview. Make sure every little element in your resume is perfect to ensure yo do not fond your self getting eliminated over and over again.
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