Recruiters spend very little time looking at each resume — “three-to-five seconds” before they decide if they want to keep going, says Simon Taylor, former Disney recruiter and author of the forthcoming leadership book “Build Smart.” “Five is generous,” he says.
To get the information they need in such a short period of time, recruiters become “master keyword scanners,” he says, zeroing in on exactly the elements of your resume that prove whether or not you should be moving along in the interview process.
Here’s what they’re really looking at.
‘The current job title’
First, recruiters are looking at your job titles. Specifically, they’re looking at “the current job title,” says Taylor.
They’ll be comparing to see how similar it is to the title of the role they’re looking to fill. That’ll give them a sense of the parallels between what you’re doing now and what you could be doing on the job in their company. The closer the role, the more seamless the transition could be and the more relevant skills you could be bringing.
If you’re not currently employed, hiring managers will be looking at your most recent job title, says Taylor.
Work experience at ‘companies that are reputable’
When recruiters scan your most recent job title, they’ll also be looking at the name of the company you’re working at or worked at.
“Maybe it’s a Fortune 500 company and they’re really looking for candidates coming from companies that are reputable that have similar size or scope,” says Taylor. Or it’s a startup and they want to see if you’ve been in that kind of hustle mentality.
The point is your previous company will give a sense of the kind of culture you’re accustomed to and could transitions to in the future.
‘It’s not always as black and white’
A candidate may include a summary such as “a couple of bullets at the very top of their resume summarizing the top six skills they have or types of experience,” says Taylor. This isn’t mandatory and not everyone includes one, but a recruiter might scan that as well.
“It’s not always as black and white” as these three elements, he says. If you have a relevant title but they haven’t heard of your most recent company, “then they might start reading a little bit further” to see what else you’ve accomplished. Big picture, though, job title, companies of employment and a resume summary are the three components’ recruiters are looking at in the three-to-five seconds they give you.
When you tweak your resume for a role, make your job titles and employers clear and mirror the language of the job description in your summary to the extent that it’s relevant to give you the best shot at moving forward.