Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the initial scanning of a resume!!!

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the initial scanning of a resume!!!


Recently I read a blog, by a staffing professional with over 30 years of experience. In this blog he posted 9 things he uses to help quickly get through resumes in 10 seconds or so. Some of these criteria were; location, industry, function, level, recent experience, education, turnover, type of resume, and what he called obvious things, in this case spelling errors and the like. He had a very narrow and low tolerance for deviation in his guidelines. Allot of assumptions were made, for instance with regards to location, if the positions was located in LA, and you were not, you were disqualified. Now I can understand that but I do not agree. What if you are in a town right outside of LA, and the commute to the job site is less than 30 miles. Seems you might lose out on a great candidate, all because you either do not know, or have not gotten to know the geography of your opening. Something I would expect out of any staffing professional or recruiter. This is the simple pre search research that should be being done. Now he is and has been an executive recruiter and or agency recruiter. So the things he looks for is determined by his clients to a larger extent.


I thought about this for a while, I have been an agency recruiter, and executive recruiter and a corporate staffing professional. As you would expect I have my own quick scan methodology or check list. So I wondered if my approach was the same for all three. The answer was yes. Now where I place the emphasis might change but the basic things I look for and read will not. I always do my pre search research, so I know location information, industry cross over, functional cross over, title, etc.. I do believe, we as staffing professionals or recruiters need to have a way of quickly deciding if a resume is worth reading at length or not. But I believe you cannot do that without doing your pre search research. Now of course, as we work on more and more openings our need for research becomes less, as we gain the knowledge of having already worked on similar openings in similar locations, with similar requirements.


So here are the things I look for to quickly determine if a resume is the kind that should be read in more detail:

1. Location - assuming there is no relocation, and we have done our research, we can quickly determine if a candidate is within commuting distance. I usually use 50 miles as my radius.


2. Industry - this depends on the position. For example, if I am looking for someone to do UX work, the industry is not as important. If they are in the gaming world, but I need someone for the interactive marketing world, not as big a deal. Again research helps us understand this better.


3. Experience - now this is huge, easily the most important. We need to have people that have experience in doing what the positions calls for. I usually look for the key words, phrases or skills that I know they need to have, to have the experience I need, and then read around them to see what they did with regards to those key skills or words. For example, if I need a testers, I will look in the resume for the words; test, tester, QA, reverse engineering, etc.. and then read around them to see what they did. This really does not take very long, as you can use the find function to find the words or phrases.


4. Education - I do look at this, but for me once you get 7+ years work experience this becomes less of a factor. Not to say I still do not look, just it does not always determine whether I take a more in depth look later or not. However if the hiring manager wants it, then it needs to be there.


5. Level - This is more important as you start looking for more senior people, i.e.; VP, Dir, CEO, etc... Again the hiring manger determines how big a deal this really is.


6. Turnover - This is something I note, but I take into account the current market climate. For example someone who has job hopped over the last 3 years does not concern me as much as someone who did, back in the dotcom boom.


7. Misc A- I do pay attention to papers written, patents, and the like. These are important. I do note blogs, LinkedIn profiles, social media etc..


7. Misc B - Normally things like spelling errors and the like get my attention, but it depends how many there are. If there is 1 or 2, ok, everyone makes a mistake. If it is 5 or more, then I do not look further.


7. Misc C - Formatting, as long as it looks good, I do not worry too much. It also depends on where I get it from, if it is on the internet and I down load it to scan/read it, then I do not always worry, as the down load could have messed up the formatting. If I read it on line again it depends. Ultimately substance is more important then look. If you determine someone is worth talking to, you will always ask for an updated resume, if that resume, sent directly from the candidate looks bad, then you have a problem, but again you have not wasted that much time.


7. MISC D - Type of resume and length. I really do not care what type of resume is being used, or the length. As long as I can tell what they can do, what they want to do, and the skills they have in the first page. I do not care about how long it is or what style they use. I am not a conspiracy theorist, who thinks a particular style of resume means something. I mean it could, but it also could not, and is not worth taking the chance on passing on a good candidate for.


Now of course depending on where you are sourcing will determine how many of these things you really need to worry about. Some methods of sourcing will make location a non issue.


So how does it work, simply. I have a resume, I look for location (usually determined at the very top of the resume), industry (again usually determined with most recent job or 2), Experience (usually determined with a simple employment date math check, title check, and quick reading around the positions specific words or phrases), education(again a simple check), Level (another simple experience and title check done at the same time as the experience check), Turnover(done at the same time as experience check), and then Misc again being done at the same time as the other checks. OF course as you do these checks you will notice other things that get your attention and that is ok. A resume is designed to get your attention and say look further or let's talk.


So you see most of these quick checks are done at the same time. It may seem like allot, but as you get more experienced, you will be able to do it faster and faster. Once a resume gets past all of this, you either read it thoroughly right then and there or copy it to your computer to reread later. Also remember these are guidelines, there are always exceptions. You will know one when you see it trust me.


Now of course everyone should have their own methodology, and most good staffing professionals do. As long as it works for you, and you get good results that is all that matters.


As for the candidate, of course every candidate feels he should be talked to, even if they are not even close to a fit for the position. If they submitted a resume to me directly, but they do not pass my quick scan or my in depth reading, I always send an email back letting them know and thanking them. If I sourced them , well at this point they do not know I have it anyway. If they applied to a company posting, then, the company should have an automated thank you, stating, thank you, if we see a fit we will get back with you, etc.. Of course much more PC then this.


Well there you have it a quick, down and dirty way to determine the fit of a candidates resume and if it should be read in more detail. Not in 10 seconds but in about 20, and with the extra 10 seconds you will have a much better chance of not overlooking a potentially great candidate. AS you get really good there will be some candidates you can contact based on this quick scan, they are obviously a fit. Others will require more in depth reading. But in the end this methodology or one like it will make it quicker and easier.

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