A survey of human resources (HR) professionals found that most résumés are scanned for less than five minutes before a decision is made as to whether the candidate advances to the next hiring round. Only 2% of survey respondents said they look at a résumé for an average of 11 minutes or more before making a decision on a candidate.
Respondents to the Society for Human Resource Management’s survey identified chronological résumés, résumés in a bulleted format and résumés customized for a particular industry as strategies that can give candidates an edge over their competitors. More than 90% of the HR professionals who responded to the survey indicated that inaccuracies on résumés sometimes (73%) or always (20%) negatively affect their decision on whether to offer a candidate an interview.
More than half of respondents said there is no reason for applicants to downplay or conceal lengthy breaks in their work history.
“The number of layoffs we saw during the recession was historic,” the society’s employment manager, Wanda Barrett, said in a statement. “For that reason, job gaps should not be an automatic disqualifier.”
As of August 2014, there were 4.8 million vacancies nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That same month, 4.4 million workers left their jobs, whether for voluntary or involuntary reasons, and employers hired 4.6 million workers.
The Résumé, Cover Letters and Interviews survey quizzed more than 400 members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on what they prefer to see from job candidates during the hiring process.
More than three-fourths of respondents said résumés should include either eight to 10 years or all years of relevant work experience. Two-thirds of HR professionals indicated a preference for résumés that list a candidate’s most recent work experience first. Nearly 70% of respondents said they prefer to receive résumés through their company’s website, while only 14% said they like to receive them via email.
According to the March 2014 survey’s findings, companies with fewer than 500 employees are more likely to ask for a cover letter than organizations with more than 500 workers. Respondents indicated that a cover letter should accomplish three main tasks: describe how a candidate’s work experience meets the job requirements; explain how the candidate’s skills meet the job requirements; and convey why the candidate wants to work for the organization.
The most common advice for job interviewees included: discuss gaps in employment; bring a résumé to the interview; arrive 15 minutes early; and address any jobs that ended in firing.