Tech Life You've got 30 seconds

A Glimpse and a Hook

The terrifying reality regarding your resume is that for all the many hours you put into fine-tuning, you’ve got 30 seconds to make an impression on me. Maybe less.

It’s unfair, it’s imprecise, and there’s a good chance that I make horrible mistakes, but there’s a lot more of you than me, and while hiring phenomenal teams is the most important thing I do, I’m balancing that task with the fact that I need to build product and manage the endless stream of people walking into my office.

But here’s a glimpse. I’m going to walk through the exact mental process I use when I look at a resume. I don’t know if this is right or efficient, but after fifteen years and staring at thousands of resumes, this is the process.

The First Pass

Your Name. It’s simple. Do I know you? Whether I do or not, I’m going to immediately Google you to see if I should. Oh, you a have a weblog. Excellent.

Company Names. Do I recognize any companies that you worked at? If I do, I don’t look at what you actually do, I assume that if I recognize the company, I’m in the ballpark. If I don’t know the company, I scan for keywords in the description to get a rough idea. Hmmmmm… networking words. Ok, you’re a networking guy.

Job Description and History. Here I’m looking for history and trajectory. How many jobs have you had and for how long? How long have you been in your current role? Where’d you come from? QA? Or have you always been an engineer? This is when I start looking for inconsistencies and warning flags.

Other Interests and Extracurriculars. Yeah, this is part of the first pass. I’m eagerly looking to find something that makes you different from the last fifty resumes I looked at. More on this in a moment.

So, we’re done. It’s been ten to twenty seconds and I’ve already formed an opinion. There’s a good chance that I’ve already made a call whether to move forward on you. If there are other folks checking the resume out, I can certainly be convinced to take a second look, but a basic opinion has been formed.

Before we move to the second pass, let’s talk about the parts of your resume I didn’t look at and never will.

Professional objective. This is likely your lead paragraph and I skipped it. Career center counselors across the planet are slamming their fists on their desks as they read this because they’ve been telling students, “You need to write a crisp career objective. It defines your resume.”

Yes, it does, but I still don’t read it and it’s not because there isn’t good content there, it’s the time issue. See, if your resume is sitting in my inbox it means someone has already mapped you to an open job in my group. Reading your objective is going to tell me something I already know. Besides, my job title and description scrub will tell me whether we’re in the ballpark or not. If I’ve got a Jr. Engineering position open and you’ve got 10 years experience, I’ll figure out that mismatch when I look at your history.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include this objective in your resume. As you’ll see below, there’s more to the process than just me reading your resume, and different folks are looking for different content.

Skills. I skip the skills section not only because this is information I’ll derive from job history, but also because this section is full of misinformation. I’m not going to say that people lie in the skills section, but I know that if a candidate has heard the word Linux in the workplace, there’s a good chance they’re going to put Familiarity with Linux as a skill on their resume.

Besides, again, I know you’ve goofed around with Linux because you said so in the description of your last job, right?

Summary of Qualifications. Similar to Skills, this is another skip section for me. Here’s a good example from an imaginary resume: “Proven success in leading technical problem solving situations”. This line tells me nothing. Yes, I know you’re trying to tell me that you’re strategic, but there is no way you’re going to convince me that you’re strategic in a resume. I’m going to learn that from a phone screen and from an interview.

Unlike Skills, which I find to be a total waste of time, I will go back to Summary of Qualifications if we end up talking. When you write “Established track record for delivering measurable results under tight schedules”, I am going to ask you what the hell you mean on the phone and if your answer isn’t instant and insightful, I’ll know your qualifications are designed to be buzzword compliant and don’t actually define your qualifications.

The Second Pass

If I can’t decide whether to schedule a phone screen after the first pass, I go for another. The goal now is, “Ok, I saw something I liked in the first pass, is it real?” This is when I do the following:

In-depth Job History. I’m going to actually read the job history for the past couple of jobs. Not all of them, just the last two or three. What I’m doing is fleshing out my mental picture of you. I’m looking for more warning flags. Do your responsibilities match your title? How long were you at your most recent job? If it was a long time, can I get a sense of how you grew? If it was short, can I figure out why you left? Do your last two jobs build on each other? Can I get a sense of where you’re headed or are you all over the place?

Your job history, — your professional experience — is the heart of your resume. This is where I spent my time vetting you and this is where you should spend your time making sure I’m going to get the most complete picture of who you are and what you’re going to bring to my team.

School. Yeah, this is the first time I’ll notice whether you went to college or not. I purposely do this because I’ve found over years of hiring that a name brand university biases my opinion too early. There’s a lot to be said for a candidate who gets accepted to and graduates from Stanford or MIT, but I’ve made just as many bad hires from these colleges as great ones.

Seeing a non-Computer Science degree is not a warning flag. In fact, I’m a huge fan of hiring physics majors as engineers. For whatever reason, the curriculum for physics has a good intersection with computer science. Any technical major for me is perfectly acceptable, and even non-technical majors with a technical job history make for a resume worth thinking about.

Ok, so that second pass took another 15 to 30 seconds and we’re done. You’ve just given me the opportunity to change your life by potentially bringing you in for an interview and that chance is over. Next!

What’s unfair about what just happened is this. You spent hours working on your resume. You sent it to close friends for review and you edited it. You agonized over the different sections and you stressed about the tone, and here I am, the hiring manager, and I read 1/10th of your work in 30 seconds.

Don’t despair. There are some easy things you can do to improve your chances.

Differentiate, Don’t Annoy

Design your resume to downgrade. Your resume needs to withstand some formatting abuse. Go get your resume right now and convert it to plain text. Can you still see the different sections? Is your job history still cleanly formatted? Can you still see the different jobs as well as the start and stop dates? Screw around with the margins, too. Where are your line breaks? They’d better not be after every line because that means visual chaos if a well-intentioned recruiter starts messing with fonts.

Never include a cover letter. I don’t read them. Recruiters don’t pass them on. Make sure the key points of your cover letter are living in your career objective and your job history.

Embrace honest buzzword compliance. Remember, I’m not the only who is going to read your resume. I’m likely the most qualified to make a call whether you’re a fit for my job, but before your resume gets to me, its going to be passed through a couple of different recruiters and these folks are just as busy as I am.

The lifeblood of the recruiter is the keyword. Java, C++, Objective-C. The more specific relevant keywords and buzzwords you can shove into your resume, there more likely you’re going to make it past the initial cut.

As I said above, I skip the Skills section because most folks already know that recruiters are just searching for specific words when they’re sourcing candidates, so they shove every possible buzzword into their resume. Know this, if you claim to Strong Java Background in your resume, I’m going to be compelled to figure out how strong your skills actually are. Don’t include any keyword or buzzword that you aren’t comfortable talking about at length.

Differentiate, don’t annoy. You’re likely going to start developing your resume from a template. Maybe you’ll use a friend’s resume that you like as a starting point. Excellent. How are you going to make it yours?

Remember, I’ve looked at thousands of resumes, which means I’ve seen all the standard templates. I know when you’re using Microsoft Word and I know when you’ve developed a format of your own. Right this second, I’m flipping through a dozen college resumes and the ones I’m spending time on are the ones that grab me visually, where there is something different. On this one, the fellow put a subtle gray box around each of his section headings. On this other one, the candidate used a nice combination of serif and sans serif fonts to grab me.

A couple of subtle visual differences to your resume goes a long way toward keeping me engaged in reading it, but remember, we’re engineers here and efficiency matters. Differentiating your resume to the point that I can’t quickly parse it is going to frustrate me. You’re not applying to be a visual designer; you’re an engineer. Keep to the standard sections and don’t make me work to figure out who you are.

Sound like a human. Here’s a doozy, this intern says he “planned, designed, and coordinated engineers efforts for the development of a mission critical system”. ZzzzzzzzzzZzz. What did this guy actually do? I honestly don’t know. Let’s call this type of writing style resume mumbo jumbo and let’s agree that usage of this style is tantamount to saying nothing at all.

What was the mission critical system? Why was it critical? How in the world did an intern plan, design, and coordinate the engineering efforts? I’m a fan of giving interns real world work, but it’d take a world-class intern to plan, design, and manage engineers on whatever this mission critical system is.

Take time to write your resume for a human. You need to hit all the right buzzwords and keywords to get yourself past the layers of recruiters, but I’m the guy who is really going to take apart your resume, and if you’re saying nothing with resume mumbo jumbo, I’m learning nothing. Give me specifics and give them to me in a familiar tone. I’m not an automaton; I honestly want to know what you do. Tell me a story.

Include seemingly irrelevant experience. This applies mostly to college types who lack experience in high technology. You’re going to stress that your job history doesn’t include any engineering and you’re thinking your summer working at Borders bookstore is irrelevant. It’s not. Any job teaches you something. Even though you weren’t coding in C++, I want to know what you learned by being a bookseller. Was it your first job? What did you learn about managers? How did you grow from the beginning to the end of the summer? Explain to me how hard work is hard no matter what the job is.

A Glimpse and a Hook

A resume will never define who you are. It’s not the job of your resume to give me a complete picture, and if you’re struggling to include every last detail about who you are, you’re wasting your time. Your resume should be designed to give me a glimpse and a hook.

The glimpse is a view into the most recent years of your professional career. It should convey your three most important accomplishments and it should give me a good idea where your technical skills lie.

The hook is more important. The hook will leave me with a question. Maybe it’s something from your other interests section? How about an objective so outlandish that I can’t help but set up a phone screen. I’m not suggesting that you make anything up, I’m asking you to market yourself in a way that I’m going to remember. A resume is not a statement of facts. It’s a declaration of intent.

100 Responses

  1. Michael B 9 years ago

    Embrace honest buzzword compliance. Remember, Im not the only who is going to read your resume. Im likely the most qualified to make a call whether you’re a fit for my job, but before your resume gets to me, its going to be passed through a couple of different recruiters and these folks are just as busy as I am.

    I solve the buzzword-bingo HR problem by including an actual Keyword Matrix table on my resume.

    The idea is to have them quickly skim the matrix and go “`XML`! Bingo! Forward.” and it gets me through to the technical one-over who I don’t alienate by writing a blurb on how skilled I am at XML technologies.

  2. I’m not going to say that people lie in the skills section, but I know that if a candidate has heard the word Linux in the workplace, there’s a good chance they’re going to put Familiarity with Linux as a skill on their resume.

    So, you ARE actually directly claiming that anybody with a skills section is a liar.

    That particular paragraph is very poor, and rather prejudiced advice. The rest is okay, though.

  3. Jesse Peterson 9 years ago

    What’s unfair about what just happened is this. You spent hours working on your resume. You sent it to close friends for review and you edited it. You agonized over the different sections and you stressed about the tone, and here I am, the hiring manager, and I read 1/10th of your work in 30 seconds.

    I think this is completely fair. In this day and in this industry if you have not spent your time using those dear hours making it so folks like yourself can use this 20-60 seconds most effectively by gaining an accurate picture of you then you’re writing resume copy.

    What I don’t think is fair is that someone may think that whomever is looking at their resume needs to go into deep thought working out the complexities of your past, yours skills, your education and other information just to get an idea about you. Those who make that job easier for the resume reader will find themselves in a better position as well as help the reader be in a better position.

  4. great stuff

    I noticed a lot of “Im” instead of “I’m” when reading it in Google Reader though.

  5. Colm: you’re exaggerating his statement badly. Coincidentally, exaggeration is pretty much exactly what the author is saying respondents do, and I’ve reviewed enough resumes to agree with him.

    For the record, I do have a skills section. It serves exactly the purpose Michael B. notes in the first comment.

  6. Interesting that his tips are approaching many of the tips I offered in a post that specifically targeted contractor’s resumes, yet I assume he is talking about permanent positions. I wonder if this means the two worlds are converging a bit as permanent jobs become less stable and “job-hopping” becomes more of a norm.

    http://www.c6software.com/articles/contractorresume.aspx

  7. I gotta say that I don’t agree with you on the semi-relevant background info. If someone straight out of college doesn’t have enough relevant extracurricular activity that they need to put their job at Borders on there, I’m not impressed with that person’s dedication. (For software, some relevant stuff could be: participating in an open source project, coding some helper apps at home to help you with XYZ task, writing programming tutorials, etc.) Anything else is just resume filler and mostly a waste of time.

    Now, if the person comes into an interview and wants to tell me about the stuff they learned about human nature by working at Borders, okay, that’s awesome. But it’s not first- or second-pass resume stuff.

  8. Virgo Telles 9 years ago

    I see why you made so many mistakes picking up resumes. This method is totally subjective. You could save time asking people on the streets for computer skills and then choosing anyone regardless of their answers… Please do not try to convince us this is a good method. Nobody should do this.

  9. Joe Smithson 9 years ago

    your article boils down to this: personal hiring preference. i’ve given (and been given) opposite advice on nearly every point you’ve outlined–and i’ve done my fair share of hiring over the years, in the same line of work.

    more simply, resumes hitting a company of any appreciable size are NOT seen by someone like you–they’re seen by an HR department, which uses a variety of algorithms to rank and sort them.

    nice try.

  10. j aruzian 9 years ago

    Resumes? What a total waste of time. No standard format (where in hell IS the degree shown?), no objectivity, no clear definitions…should have been disposed of decades back….

    And their counterpart on the employer side, the “job description”…what consummate, irrelevant drivel. Gee, they want an individual thinker who is a team player, a leader who follows, a hardware/software/firmware/anyware background type who wears red ties and knows Marketing/Engineering/Manufacturing at the Director/Staff level, and……yeah, sure.

    I didn’t use them during the last 3 years of my Recruiting career, and my candidate to fill ratio was 1.3 to 1. The industry average was 17 to 1 and is probably much worse now.

    Forget resumes! This the 21st Century, not 1927!

    End

  11. Not to spoil you game, but why should I care what you think? You don’t seem to care how much effort I put into writing a resume, and you don’t seem to be “nice” by any definition of that attribute, so I guess it all becomes a powerplay. Well, get this: I don’t care if you hire me or not.

  12. straight shooter 9 years ago

    Just like you complain about the mumbo jumbo in the candidates’ resumes, I’m calling your post pure BS and i doubt you really do all this. You’re just posting a dream routine. Your post is as fake as those resumes. Good ideas, though.

  13. Mitch 9 years ago

    I have also been told to do the exact opposite of what you say. Your post is BS. I agree with Straight Shooter.

  14. Javier 9 years ago

    You look like sylar.

    (based off of banner pic)

  15. GreggT 9 years ago

    As a recruiting manager, I can say that this process is probably not too far from the norm for many managers. My guess is that a substantial portion of managers see recruiting as an annoying interruption in their normal routine, and never spend much effort in trying to improve it. The details of the process will vary from person to person (ie for me a good cover letter is a key differentiator, I look for people who take the time to understand what my organization does and how they might fit in, instead of just sending a stock resume). If you’re just looking to land any job, shotgun the world and see what hits. If you have particular orgs you would like to join, make the effort to learn about them (and the hiring manager if possible) and then leverage that knowledge.

  16. Lots of good points, but I have a very different take on an important aspect: the cover letter. I absolutely will not read a resume without a cover letter, no matter the candidate’s experience or schooling. I receive numerous electronic resumes attached to an email with no wording, no cover letter – nothing. One person sent it with “FYI” in the body of the message. This is completely unprofessional. The cover letter is where I can see if someone took the time to outline their resume and tie it back to what we are looking for. It shows writing skills, attention to detail, research about our company, and quickly gives me an idea of the candidate’s overall ability to communicate. It is as important as the resume to me.

  17. Chris 9 years ago

    I am *amazed* at how many of the people posting comments on this essay seem to think that you suck ass. It’s as if half of these people have such chips on their shoulders that they can’t read what you actually wrote.

  18. Misha 9 years ago

    There is definitely some substance in your post. However, your tone is a bit arrogant and annoying. It kills your points and makes you less credible. You really need to work a bit on your communication skills.

  19. What about a/s/l?

    This post is too perfect… It has the kind of information that takes the edge off of my advantage. Grr..

  20. Aaron 9 years ago

    I am a technical recruiter who hires aerospace engineers, and IT pros. Most of this info is true. Agree or disagree if you want. Skill lists are bogus. I go directly to recent job titles and read what they actually did. Then I look at education for degree (because you can’t be an engineer without a degree). Next I look at the first relevant job to see how long they have been in the field. Scan for gaps and out of industry jobs.

    This takes about 30 secs. and is 90% accurate in my experience. I can tell when people add key words to be found, and when they over embellish the title / responsibilities. Take credit for what you have done and keep it simple.

  21. yawn. I’m in the camp that could care less if you hire me.

    Even after all that you still have a 50/50 chance of finding a candidate.

    You’re best off advertising with precise qualifications, then interviewing them as they come to you.

    Stop wasting time with the seive method.

    Few apply for jobs they can’t do. If they do, you’ll know pretty fast. Then you have a choice, teach/train (a good thing to do) or replace (wasteful)

    Aptitude for learning the job, and likelihood of fitting in with the people there are the two highest priorities.

  22. Pasha 9 years ago

    Ah… Spoken like a typical manager.

    Remember this, when you look around at the sheer mediocrity surrounding you in your workplace. When you think to yourself: ‘how the hell did ____ ever get hired here?’

    Answer: Some uninformed, self-important administrator with adult ADD made a snap judgment based on what bullet points, or font size struck their fancy that day.

    Workers: Keep fighting the good fight, maintain your skills, and don’t get caught up in playing these games. The right job for you (and your employer) is out there.

    Managers: Get a clue. Listen. Observe. Make *informed*, well thought out decisions…

    ..Wait, who am I kidding- the managers topped reading 29 seconds ago..

  23. I can’t believe all the people that are whining and crying when a manager was willing to tell you the truth. It’s obvious that resumes are fluff and the point is to make a 30 second impression. Have you ever seen a stack of 50 resumes? Do you think someone really gives a flying hoot about most of that crap you put on your resume? Just because you wasted 7 days crafting your fluffy resume doesn’t mean you have to cry about someone telling you that you wasted your time.

  24. I am currently in the job market and I agree with Joe Smithson, as this seems biased towards his or her hiring preferences. The person in the article made same mistakes as well. I don’t understand not having a cover letter though. Sometimes you learn addition facts there that you don’t learn on the resume. Besides, by not wanting a cover letter that tells me that the hiring manager approves of cutting corners, which reflects on what they want in an employee.

    As far as previous job experience, that’s understandable, but the hiring people must realize that not everyone can go from job-to-job successfully. Sometimes finding an ideal job takes weeks, even months. For a long time I was without a vehicle and could only apply to those businesses located along a busline and one that wouldn’t require me taking 4 buses to get to my job. At least one employer worked with me because they liked my resume and gave me a chance, which in turn allowed me to afford a vehicle.

    It makes me wonder if those hiring managers have to post their hiring, firing, and turnaround rate of employees when they themselves have to job search.

  25. worksucks 9 years ago

    I job-hop b/c most jobs suck really bad. My jobs don’t ‘build on one another’. they are just another place to collect a paycheck until you can’t take the crap any more.

    why would you put so much significance on how long someone was there…and did they grow? who cares.

    I bring skills x,y,z to the table. do you need x,y,z? if so, hire me. who cares about the past.

  26. worksucks 9 years ago

    Pasha, will you marry me?

    And Robert, do you think I have the time to construct a well-thought-out cover letter for every crap job description I’m replying to?

    You people feel powerful w/ that stack of resumes in front of you? You should be more humble and realize there are probably some good people waiting to shine behind those documents.

  27. I agree with much of what is said in this post. As a hiring manager I have been in the same position several times.

    There simply is not the time to do justice to all the resumes that you have to review when hiring for a position. Good or bad, that’s simply the fact of it.

    In fact, I wrote a similar post about how to get a job as a web designer that garnered about the same response in the comments and on Digg.

    Good or bad, it’s useful for candidates to have this sort of information available to them so that they can direct their efforts in the most efficient manner.

  28. I work for a major bank and have to say that your methods of recruitment are quite poor and do not reflect most industries. I stopped reading toward the end as what you look at on a CV is equivalent to a new car buyer who doesn’t need to check the vehicle at all because they have checked the paint work and given the tyres a kick to make sure they are sturdy.

  29. Interesting article from a manager’s point of view, though I do have to agree with Misha in that you come across as a bit arrogant. If you don’t have enough time to thoroughly go through resumes then maybe your company should be hiring somebody who does. It really sounds like you don’t care who you work with as long as they look good on paper… not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that I’m glad I don’t work for a company like that.

  30. A question for all you recruiters – what should a student do who’s pretty much fresh out of college with little experience or none in their major…write down previous jobs and their respective descriptions? If its such a key thing about their history…how is a student fresh out of college ever supposed to break into any industry. I personally have connections and strings I can pull – not yet out of college but the stuff I read here has totally freaked me out. I’m not one to lie about stuff in my resume, I’m nothing special – I do my work well and I do it on time, I feel like writing something to boast my skills any further is simply lying to myself and anyone else who reads the resume. Err…anyways deviated a bit from my original question…what can a student put in to stand out from the rest? For all the places I’ve applied to I’ve made sure to do some research on the place to weave it into my cover letter but…no luck for even an internship by me so far 🙁

  31. Anonymous 9 years ago

    Interestingly when a candidate reads a job description he scans quite quickly as well that the guy wro wrote it does not have a clue what the position is all about, or that the company tries to stuff all the buzzword it can.

    My favourite in IT is when a company looks for a developer with 5 to 10 years of experience in J2EE and .NET and networking and … and … and …. Basically make sure you put everything you can in there and you may get a something out in the end. Companies are lying all the time in their description but for some reason you fail to mention this here.

    Your article is interesting because it shows recruiters are lame and actually don’t care about the people. They just scan as robots.

    Bleh.

  32. Good Post, enjoyed reading it

  33. Jonas 9 years ago

    You spent considerable time jotting all of this down and yet you don’t dig deep enough to maybe find that diamond in the rough.

    I know job apps are all about presentation and handing it on a silver platter. I’ve written and read my fair share.

    It just struck me as odd.

    Very good read, still.

  34. this just goes to show why you should treat the H.R. departement of the place where you want to work as an obstacle

    even if you happen to be perfect for the job (assuming the actual job description you got was accurate (it usually isn’t)), the chances you will get even emailed back are remote

    you might as well buy a lottery ticket

    if you want a job bad enough, don’t bother with the H.R. dept. , go over their heads and get in contact with the head of the departement you want to work for, or even better get to know someone close to the position you are aiming for

    getting a job these day is all about information warfare, you are like a spammer to them and you must get past their spam filter, the dumb, front door approach won’t do

    you need, names, places, phone numbers and what they are looking for

    you can’t let them know who you are when you are fishing for these and when you do get a chance at the position, don’t act like you’re all that interested, if they feel you are really happy about getting a job there they will feel suspicious that you are getting “too good” a deal

    so get your google mining, PBX listing, social engineering and dumpster diving ready and don’t let the H.R. guys get between you and your job

  35. Resume Queen 9 years ago

    All large companies use technology to process resumes. They are called Applicant Tracking Systems or Talent Management Systems. The reason companies use these tools is because they receive in excess of 2000 resumes A DAY — EVERY DAY. So, if you have applied to a major or top ten company you are most likely 1 out of say 500,000 or more resumes. While I enjoyed reading the resume blog material, I would have to say that additional strategies are needed to land the job of your dreams (if only a day dream)… I have this knowledge because I have spent the last 14 or so years working withing the HR sector. If someone out there needs some additional coaching, please just write me and I will help the first 10 people for FREE… no strings, no bs… I just like to help. ~Belinda

  36. I am a technical recruiter who hires aerospace engineers, and IT pros. Most of this info is true. Agree or disagree if you want. Skill lists are bogus. I go directly to recent job titles and read what they actually did.

    You are in the minority. Most recruiters don’t have the patience to wade through two page long CVs in order to find the buzzwords they’re looking for – they like a nice list so they can match up any of the skills you have listed, which, given all of the libraries and frameworks and libraries available today means that you could have up to 50 words in that list.

    Then I look at education for degree (because you can’t be an engineer without a degree).

    Again, this is just your prejudice, which ultimately just means your commission will take a hit.

  37. Geordie Korper 9 years ago

    I have much simpler rules which can be summarized as follows. A cover letter with no typos, that describes why they are interested in the specific position (winnows down the pile by 40%), accompanied by a nicely laid out resume that clearly shows how they have applied their skills effectively (30% more gone) are the biggest hurdles that most applicants seem to falter on. With the 30% of applicants that get through the “I am not clueless” screening I start looking at experience, length of time at prior jobs, education, certifications, location, citizenship, etc.

    However, the single most important piece of advice that I can give to people who want to get hired is to treat your resume and cover letter like the work that you put into it is worth several thousand dollars. In the end it probably will be.

  38. AndyF 9 years ago
    Seeing a non-Computer Science degree is not
    
    a warning flag. In fact, I'm a huge fan of
    
    hiring physics majors as engineers. 

    I don’t know how others feel, but if you’re hiring a Computer science major or a physicist as an engineer, then you have a problem. You might want to consider hiring an engineer as an engineer for a refreshing change.

    Would you hire a family M.D. as a psychologist?

  39. As a part time geek, I can appreciate the need for quick, factual references. As a Chef never with extra time, my hiring process is simpler, but VERY SIMILAR. The reality is that we have a ton of stuff to do in any field, and the hiring “supervisor” type never has time to sit back and peruse resumes/applications for all sorts of hidden data.

    GREAT ARTICLE.

  40. Daniel 9 years ago

    @Resume Queen, How might someone go about contacting you? I googled around for “Resume Queen” + Belinda and found few matches, none of which I think are you.

    I don’t know how others feel, but if you’re hiring a Computer science major or a physicist as an engineer, then you have a problem. You might want to consider hiring an engineer as an engineer for a refreshing change.

    @AndyF, Where can you major in plain old engineering? At graduation at my alma mater last year, there were exactly zero “General Engineering” majors. Are MechEng majors “engineers” then? if not, Civil? Industrial?

    Biomed/biotech majors aside, everyone has to take the same basics.

  41. I just wanted to point out that a great deal of this process is founded on the very basic (and, in this case, largely denied) assumption that the applicant is a liar. If not a liar, at least inclined to grossly exaggerate his/her skills and accomplishments.

    In theory, I should be able to write, “97th-percentile C++ programmer, track record of successful project management and shipped software. Experience and expertise is difficult algorithmic problems.” Maybe another sentence or two elaborating what kinds of algorithmic problems. The end. Assuming these are the skills you’re looking for, the rest of this screen is trying to prove/disprove that paragraph.

  42. Robert M 9 years ago

    No two managers treat resumes in the same way.

    It doesn’t matter how much effort you put in to writing your resume, you’re taking a gamble on whether or not the recruiter appreciates your particular style.

    My advice is to write your resume the way you want to. So long as it looks good, and your grammar and spelling is correct then there is little else you can do.

  43. Jokum 9 years ago

    oh look at me, I’m so important I’m a human resource person.

  44. Conrad 9 years ago

    Jean-Francois Perreault wrote:

    this just goes to show why you should treat the H.R. departement of the place where you want to work as an obstacle

    even if you happen to be perfect for the job (assuming the actual job description you got was accurate (it usually isn’t)), the chances you will get even emailed back are remote

    This applicant doesn’t understand basic punctuation and capitalization. Read no further.

  45. About to Graduate 9 years ago

    I can’t believe all the people that are whining and crying when a manager was willing to tell you the truth. It’s obvious that resumes are fluff and the point is to make a 30 second impression. Have you ever seen a stack of 50 resumes? Do you think someone really gives a flying hoot about most of that crap you put on your resume? Just because you wasted 7 days crafting your fluffy resume doesn’t mean you have to cry about someone telling you that you wasted your time.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t cry. But if Hiring managers insist that resumes are a waste of time and money and that they are all “fluff”, as you have stated , then why exactly do managers insist on it while putting up a job profile? How about suggesting a better way to hire the candidate that you need for the job so that you needn’t go through that “fluff”. Most applicants are doing what is expected of them while searching for a job. Applicants aren’t asking you to treat them as royalty but is asking a hiring manager to show a little bit of respect for the effort so wrong? Remember once upon a time, you were in that position too. Please remember that you are as indispensible as the person whose resume you read for 30 seconds.

  46. cimbyampi 9 years ago

    It’s attitudes like those you’ve expressed in your writ that is turning your country into a plastic, judging-by-the-cover, truth-is-irrelevant pantomime. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming you for it or even being critical…on the contrary, I really feel you need to quit your job and go live in nature for a year or two. You need to rediscover yourself and discover what it really is being a human. You come across as a caged tiger who has grown so used to the steel bars and concrete floor you’ve started calling it home.

  47. Excellent stuff and exactly mirrors my first pass / second pass approach – and that of THOUSANDS of other hirers out there.

    What’s interesting, but hardly surprising, is the “Me, me meeeeee” mindset of so many of the comments. When I lecture on this topic to graduates and post-graduates, I am at pains to point out that the job-hunting process is 100% about the employer – their needs, their worries, their issues, their ulcers.

    All the bright young heads in the room invariably nod sagely when I say this. Fair enough – the concept is self-evident. But that IQ moment rarely, rarely translates into an EQ moment where the behaviour of all the bright young people begins to reflect that understanding. Their CVs remain wooly, waffly and badly spelled/punctuated. Their behaviour at interview is whiny, needy and overtly self-serving. Folks, you need to really understand just how irrelevant you are to the hirer.

    I was interviewing with a big tech firm just before christmas and over the course of the week, a handful of candidates did not show up for their interviews. Did we phone them to see what the problem was? Did we hell! We offered a silent prayer of thanks and grabbed some more caffeinated beverages. Those candidates could have been trapped down wells, savaged by angry poodles or in some genuinely dreadful or perilous situation. None of this entered our minds – we were kicking back, enjoying the unexpected bonus of a spare 30 minutes sipping java.

    I have long maintained that calling the process of hiring people “screening and selection” is a misnomer. It should be called “screening and ELIMINATION” because that is what’s going on. If I have a depressingly large pile of applications sitting on my desk, it instantly becomes a numbers game – 100 applications will be whittled down to a shortlist of 8-12. 8-12 in the first interview becomes 2-3 in the second and if we’re lucky, we find the golden needle in the haystack.

    As the late, great Bill Hicks said “I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold or cruel … but I am, so that’s how it comes out.” It’s not a perfect reality, but it is reality, so heed the nice Mr Rand – he’s casting pearls of wisdom in front of you. Don’t be a swine …

  48. Matt G 9 years ago

    It sounds like there are a lot of bruised egos commenting on this post. Sure, it’s the author’s opinion and style. But, as someone who has done hiring for three different technology companies (as an engineering manager), I can say this is pretty much how it gets done.

    The resume isn’t a hiring decision. It’s a gate to a first round interview. The simple fact is that most companies get more resumes than they can handle and at least an order of magnitude greater than they can interview. You don’t have to convince anyone that they should hire you– you have to convince them that they should *interview* you.

    That stack of resumes has to get culled down to an interview list. Some companies use keyword filters so some resumes never even get read by humans. Others review by hand, but that requires the kind of extreme “efficiency” that the author describes. Treat your resume like a 30-second TV spot to get you a chance at a 30-minute infomercial.

    Sure, it would be great if every hiring manager could read every line of every resume, but it’s just not practical.

  49. Jamasiel 9 years ago

    Interesting perspective. Strange that it raises so much ire for simply being the way you handle things.

    Okay, maybe it’s not so strange.

    Thanks for the info, it gives food for thought.

  50. Some great tips. Thanks.

  51. GREAT post and especially loved the last statement “A resume is not a statement of facts. It’s a declaration of intent.” That’s brilliant!

    As far as cover letters go, my suggestion – use common sense, know your audience, and when in doubt, ASK. Call the HR person and find out if the hiring manager wants a cover letter. Some have told me not to bother, they don’t read them, others demand them, it all depends on the company.

    If you are pitching directly to the hiring manager, a well-crafted cover letter might just get you invited to the dance. It can’t hurt unless you are a terrible writer. Bottomline, if you have time and think it’s going to help your cause, do it and do it well.

    Rands’ point is clear: lousy resume + a great cover letter = no interview calls. I’d much rather spend time tweaking my resume to make it shine (thanks for the tips!), than on a cover letter, which is..well.. more of the same.

    Once again, thanks for a GREAT post and keep up the good work!

  52. I sure can believe what most of this article is saying. I can see this as a “normal routine” after seeing so many resumes in one’s lifetime. I would probably do the same. But keep in mind that you lose hidden talent to those who haven’t a chance to express it. Especially those who come right out of college. Especially at this day in age where most of this generation is growing up in a technology influenced world that we would have never imagined growing up in.

    I had that problem when I came out of college because I graduated during the time of the IT fall in 2000. It was so bad I couldn’t get an internship coming out of a small college. So what skills could I put in a resume? How do you put that you’ve solved programming problems only 4 MIT students have solved? Or you have the drive and determination to stay up all night programming code? Or one who can be loved by others without being totally distracted by work (people skills)?

    I can see how being a hiring manager is a tough job, but keep in mind of the new talent this next generation is coming out with. Maybe you need a new tactic to find this talent. Maybe you should adjust your hiring strategy keeping in mind of the growing technology field. Hey, how many times have you heard that someone’s 4 year old can actually play online with one of those Webkinz?

  53. Phi,

    As someone who has been part of the hiring process on both ends in the last several years, I can say that there *are* places to put “hidden talents” on a resume. If I’m looking at the resume of someone fresh out of college, I’ll be looking for rather different things than from someone who’s been working for ten years in the industry. You can put awards down– were you top in an MIT programming contest? Put it down! That’ll impress me! People skills? Yeah, put it down. In a techie that would definitely get me to look twice… although if you’re going to put that down you’d better darn well demonstrate it in your interview. Staying up programming code? Eh, that describes every decent techie I know, so it doesn’t really distinguish you in any way.

    Here’s an example: one guy interviewed with us (we’re an analysis/techie company) who only had had a job in *construction* because of the poor job market at the time. However, he had programming skills from college, and he spun the construction job (emphasizing the electrical hands-on skills) so it was a plus for him.

  54. rick gregory 9 years ago

    Wow… it took almost 50 comments until someone (Matt G) finally stated the obvious – the resume is there to get you the interview.

    Having been on both sides of this, a lot of the post rings true as do the comments on the deficiencies of this process. The sheer volume of resumes means that a manager has to develop some method of scanning them. Ideally, you work with a recruiter to train them to pre-scan the resumes, but that rarely works as well as we’d like.

    However there are two points I wish managers paid more attention to:

    1) Please don’t talk about how people are your most important resource, how you put folks through a multi-stage hiring process to find the best fit… and then use a hiring process like this. If your HR department can’t winnow down resumes to a manageable number for your position or you’re not willing to spend real time on the ones that come to you, I’ve got to question your company’s statements about how central people are to its success.

    2) You want good resumes? Put some thought into your job descriptions. If I could get companies to make ONE change in those it would be to eliminated the “XYZ prefered” statement. You either want it or not – make a call! Saying you’re looking for someone with 10+ years of experience in the field and then say “MBA preferred” is silly – if they have over a decade of experience and are good, is the degree really important? And if it is, put in as a requirement. If it’s not, leave it out.

  55. On the practical side, I wanted to shout out to an excellent post over at TechClever on making your resume nice-looking in the sort of ways that Rands alludes to here: http://www.lifeclever.com/2006/10/24/give-your-resume-a-face-lift/#more-236

  56. I’d like to know how many of the people with complaints about this article are working. And WorkSucks I wonder how you will ever get a good job with your attitude.

    There are people out there who love and care about their jobs. There are jobs out there that are worth loving and caring about. If you want one learn how to get it and then take control of your career. Stop whining about how unfair it is.

  57. Armand 9 years ago

    even if you happen to be perfect for the job (assuming the actual job description you got was accurate (it usually isn’t)), the chances you will get even emailed back are remote

    This applicant doesn’t understand basic punctuation and capitalization. Read no further.

    Punctuation, maybe not, but this applicant cleanly put double closing parenthesis to his sentence and since we’re in the context of IT here, that shows he’s a programmer, with probably attention to his programming syntax. What I need is someone who can write code cleanly, not spend two hours fixing a comment on a blog.

    This is only to say, I do not agree with the quick scanning method, reliance on buzzwords and caring about how many time this person changed job.For instance buzzwords are actually fooling HR people a bit too easily, thus requiring a more technical person to sort out the actual skills from a resume. This is asking others to do the screening work. That’s why technical managers don’t like spending time doing this: it is not their job.

    As for the history, the IT world is a fast moving one, many start as consultants in various places, and what exactly a resume with a 10-years-in-the-same-big-company tells you? Not that you’re going to hire a dedicated, hard-working and lawful employee, but someone who probably didn’t keep up too much with this world (we all know that the bigger the company, the slower the innovation) and preferred sticking around doing routine work rather than help your company be the first in line with new ideas.

    As for hiring physics engineers, I suppose this comment is irrelevant for the software industry and you’re talking about something else. Otherwise it’s only laughable and shows how misinformed you may be.

  58. andy marie 9 years ago

    Alright guys, now I can’t tell if I should feel great or not. I am an accountant (waiting for results from the CPA exam, so CPA pending), went to big name grad school and prestigious undergrad and the like..did VERY well. Have 3 years industry experience, always rated very highly..I AM STUCK IN RESUME HELL!!!!!!!

    HR has become the used car saleseman of the workforce. I am wholeheartedly trying to get a public accounting position in Tax (seriously, just a straight-out-of-school, pretend I don’t have anything past my masters) job and all the recruiters scream “apply online” to their little black hole. 574 applications later, I have had 1 interview and offer that was ridiculously low.

    WHAT do I do? My resume on Monster pulls 10 or 12 industry email a day, and don’t we all LOVE getting those ones from headhunters. I dont’ want to go back to industry, I HATE INDUSTRY.

    I’d hire a professional resume writer, but I don’t know that that will help. HR folks are slimy, even my perfect references can’t seem to help. Nobody seems to want to meet anymore. I have so much to offer and I really want the challenge.

    This is turning out to be a very bad experience for me. Any advice is much appreciated.

  59. Itxaka 9 years ago

    Moron.

    HR people sucks.

    Put in your curriculum that you administer domain name systems or that you know internet protocol and it gets you nothing. Put that you know DNS, IP , XML and so on(always on uppercase of course) and you will get a call soon.

    Half of them never realice what kind or person or level of knowledge they are recruiting, they always look for things easy to understand instead of doing better their job.

  60. Mark Robinson 9 years ago

    HR and most management of most companies are simply incompetent at the hiring task. I do not believe anyone would do well to follow much of the advice given here.

    The tone of the advice in this article is ‘I’m looking for inconsistencies and warning flags’. Using the author’s writing style ‘Yeah, you are all liars. Now, which one of you is lying the least?’ What an approach to looking for someone to positively influence your organization. This approach has most likely led the author to assemble one of the most mediocre teams available.

    The bottom line is, no matter how one tries to figure out who a person is from their resume, (quoting me now) ‘ya gots no clue what they can do until they start work’. You really don’t.

    Toss out the people who can not spell or write decently (it indicates their attention to detail and education) and interview the rest until you find someone you like. That is the entire worth of a resume.

    Until HR and managers come to this realization, they will continue to do this: ‘but I’ve made just as many bad hires from these colleges as great ones’. Evidence that making decisions based on what someone can put down on paper means virtually nothing. But….. most people in the world ignore evidence and plod along with what they hope would be true.

  61. Retired Liar 9 years ago

    WOW….Just WOW.

    I think you should work on your resume, because I think you hate your job. Now I know why my resume gets shot down a lot, it’s because I’m a liar! Why do you even bother opening the envelopes? Cynicism has consumed your entire soul. Ahh Corporate HR, the destroyer of dreams.

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

    Yours truly,

    Mr. Liar

  62. Toss out the people who can not spell or write decently (it indicates their attention to detail and education) and interview the rest until you find someone you like. That is the entire worth of a resume.

    This may be hard to believe, but managers have work to do other than 100 hours of interviews a week.

  63. Mark Robinson 9 years ago

    “This may be hard to believe, but managers have work to do other than 100 hours of interviews a week.”

    Yes they do, at least they believe they do.

    If 100 hours of interviews a week are required, something is horribly wrong with your hiring proces.

    Hiring someone requires an investment in time commensurate with the importance of the decision.

    That is why the activity is titled Human Resources. If one is too busy to speak to the Humans involved and spend more time than they do deciding where to lunch, then one should not be in the hiring process.

  64. 8 years ago (1999) while in college, I read a job post that required an engineer with

    – 5yrs experience in Java

    – 2yrs experience in XML

    Go Figure!

  65. The biggest thing I disagree with is the advice on cover letters. Way back, years ago, it was specifically my cover letter that grabbed my company’s attention, and years later it was still talked about as “the best cover letter ever.”

    There are tons of reasons:

    1) The candidate took the time to research your company (assuming he points out why he’d be a good fit for the job). I want people that _want_ to work for my company.

    2) You can get a feel for his writing and communication skills, which you can’t usually get from a resume (especially after it’s been massaged by the headhunters).

    3) Similar to reason #1: if I get a personalized cover letter, I know that this person is NOT applying to tons of jobs. He’s picky, because he knows he’s good and can afford to be picky. We always ask people where else they’ve applied, and there is definitely an inverse relationship between how good we deem people to be and the number of firms they’re applying to. That’s the guy I want working for me. I know he carefully considered his options, and he determined that my company was worth his spending the extra few minutes on the cover letter.

    I personally think NOT including a cover letter is one of the worst mistakes you can make.

  66. It seems like 99% of the people who have negative comments about resumes forget about the interview process completely. They seem to think that you get hired based on your resume. Completely wrong and with that idea in mind, of course your thoughts on resumes will be negative.

    The purpose of the resume is to get either a phone interview or in person interview. This is the point where you prove your competency, showcase your individuality, make your case as to why this company may be a good fit. And in an interview, you as a candidate should be asking questions about the company.

    The one poster who said jobs are just a place to get a paycheck because work sucks, that is just wow to me. Because I’ve loved every job I’ve had, I took a lot of time to select great people to work with at great companies. Yes there was a lot of personal growth because I picked a line of work that I’m passionate about. My job is more like a hobby and the paycheck is really almost secondary

    The person who said that you sound like you’re hiring based on paper was just so off base. You’re setting up phone calls and interviews based on paper.

  67. “574 applications later, I have had 1 interview and offer that was ridiculously low.”

    How much time could this guy have spent on doing each of these resumes? Were they tailored to the position and company? Was there research done about each hiring process, company structure, at least the name of the hiring manager? It doesn’t sound possible!

  68. Pasha 9 years ago

    This is clearly a polarizing issue, on both sides- but there is basically one key premise here: Taking the time to read every resume, is impossible / not necessary.

    Seriously?

    Think about this for a moment. We’re talking about one to three pages -max (in bullet point form, large font) with a few paragraphs of personal information.

    I see a lot of different numbers here, and just have to smile at statements like “have you ever had to look at FIFTY resumes?” -I am not a ‘manager’, but the role I have held over my 15 year career has been that of team / project lead. I too, am one of the ‘privileged few’ to be charged with upholding the mysteries of the hiring process.

    The bulk of my experience, has been in the educational system, and global automotive industry. In these environments, we typically get on the order of 100 – 300 resumes. Some are good, some are bad, some are long, others are short. But you know what? I read each and every one; as does anyone with any interest in the project. It doesn’t take that long. Depending on how quickly the applicants are queuing up, you can either do it a little bit over time, or devote a few afternoons to it. Is that so difficult?

    I don’t know how fast the average reader is; I’d say it takes me 2 – 4 minutes to read each resume (yes, every line). But- you’re supposed to be the big wig that makes the big bucks, right? How did you ever get to where you are without being able to quickly absorb and process information? I have to read pages and pages of white papers and technical documents on a daily basis (on top of performing my normal duties) and I still find the time for this.

    Why?

    Shouldn’t it be obvious? Hiring someone, no matter how small their role may be, is a *key* decision. One that you, your organization, and your team, are going to have to live with for a very long time. It can potentially make, or break the project. You don’t think it’s worth your time? Is it not in your interests to give it a bit of attention?

    As for the notion that people lie on resumes, inflate skills, or tweak keywords to suit the position- Yes, these things do sometimes occur. Sometimes they don’t. Many resumes have great cover letters, yet others may stand on their own without one. Sometimes a ‘skills’ section is riddled with half baked nonsense, and sometimes it serves as an important ‘catch all’ area, for skills that may not have been directly related to your work experience, yet still highly valuable (such as being multi-lingual).

    Besides, if someone lies in one area- how are you to know if they aren’t doing the same in another? If someone lies at all- by very definition: won’t it be hard to tell?

    You know the best way to sort out the liars from the gems? You want to know how to spot the best candidates?

    … Bloody read them!!

    If you don’t know what ‘XML’ is, ask someone who does (or get a clue for yourself. this stuff is on the Internet now you know). Think your applicant might be fudging something? Ask them.

    My goodness. One would almost get the idea that some managers just don’t like to work… (so they come up with elaborate reasons why they can’t be bothered)

  69. These kind of Resume filtering articles come up every so often, and I have to say they seem to rely on a principle that runs contrary to my experience as a hiring manager – i.e. that you get a massive stack of reasonbly-qualified resumes in reponse to a job ad.

    In my experience, I get around 10-15 resumes total, 40% of which are completely wrong for the job, since they’ve come from idiot city-boy recruitment agents who don’t understand the positions they’re trying to fill.

    Those that are suitable are at best of middling quality. There’s almost never a polarising situation where even one CV stands out as brilliant against the rest.

    If I was to start rejecting CVs as soon as I came across an apostrophe out of place, I’d soon end up with zero potential candidates.

  70. pedro 9 years ago

    While this article had valid points, in my experience, there is no magic formula for creating a resume. You can do whatever you want with it, but in the end, it’s not going to look that different than somebody elses with the same level of experience.

    And in the real world, a resume isn’t as important as Networking. If you know the manager or the managers friend or somebody able to get you a job at a specific company, you will probably get interviewed before some unknown person submitting a resume. It’s just a fact of life.

    And another fact is, after being in IT as a contracter and consultant for 10 years, most people who interview you really have no clue what’s on your resume.

    I’ve interviewed plenty of times where the manager or HR person admitted they hadn’t had a chance to look at my resume. And this was for jobs paying well over 100K per year.

    And it happens all the time because companies go through recruiters and/or networking. If your recruiter is good and/or you have a high level friend, your resume really isn’t that important.

    In the end, a resume is there to get you an interview. There is no magic formula. Yeah if you throw together a bunch of crap, you probably won’t get anywhere. But every other month somebody else comes out with the “magic” way to write that perfect resume and/or cover letter.

    The truth is, People like to hire people they know. Whether it’s through former employees, former connections, friends, and so on. Like the manager stated in his article, looking at a piece of paper for 30 seconds won’t tell you anything about anybody.

    If your recruiter is good and has the right connections or you made the right connections in previous jobs and/or school, your ahead of the curver.

    Yeah work on your resume, but the fact is, networking will gets you more interviews, not a magic piece of paper.

  71. andy marie 9 years ago

    Pasha, Mike, Pedro, you all are great and have given me a much better confirmation of my previous opinions. Pasha, I have to quote you,”Hiring someone, no matter how small their role may be, is a *key* decision. One that you, your organization, and your team, are going to have to live with for a very long time.”

    You are exactly right. I can’t understand why managers and directors who work hand in hand with their clients as an ADVISOR are more willing to trust HR to bring in the right candidate instead of their gut. He should know his team. He knows what’s he’s looking for…

    I shouldn’t woman hate (as a dominant female) but HR usually is a bunch of multi-hypenate 40 + year old over-frosted, over-accessoried frazzled women touting their perfect ‘work-life balance’and make some huge deal about how they work and still have their perfect little family. If it’s not that crowd, it’s the straight-from-college “I wish I were in Daytona, look at my fake-and-bake tan and almost appropriate work attire, I have no job experience and I couldn’t hack pharmaceutical sales so here I am” types. THESE are the people who are making mission critical decisions that impact an organization and most importantly, a working team! We all know how that one new but oh-so-wrong person destroys a team and sets projects back. Now I know there are many wonderful HR folks out there, I’m not trying to generalize or say untrue things, but seriously. A resume filter, a portal and the like WILL NOT get you the people who are passionate about working for your company.

    With that and all the other thoughts, I have courage. I’m contacting a partner directly. I had dinner with him 3 years ago and I know he doesn’t remember me, but I will name drop via email, follow up via phone next week and mail a resume at the end of next week.

    I just know they will hire the wrong person if this decision is left to HR. He needs to meet me,talk to me, and spend just a little bit of time understanding how I am to bring something to the table that nobody else can.

  72. I appreciate the work done to write this article. the information mentioned here is so valuable. I will read the article carefully and try to apply this stuff in my resume.

  73. Duane 9 years ago

    A Glimpse and a Hook

    The terrifying reality regarding your resume is that for all the many hours you put into fine-tuning, you’ve got 30 seconds to make an impression on me. Maybe less.

    Communication problem.

    It’s unfair, it’s imprecise, and there’s a good chance that I make horrible mistakes,

    Poor Performance.

    No corrections to the process?

    but there’s a lot more of you than me,

    Blames you for the bad performance and management.

    and while hiring phenomenal teams is the most important thing I do, Highly doubtful!

    I’m balancing that task with the fact that I need to build product

    Hello!!

    and manage the endless stream of people walking into my office.

    Management and Control.

    No delegation of authority?

    Where are the supervisors?

    But here’s a glimpse. I’m going to walk through the exact mental process I use when I look at a resume.

    I don’t know if this is right or efficient,

    Why don’t you know?

    but after fifteen years and staring at thousands of resumes,

    Justification?

    this is the process.

    No policy or procedures, has ISO9000 implications. No review processes.

    The First Pass

    Your Name. It’s simple.

    This has to be a lead in…

    Do I know you?

    Nepotism?

    Whether I do or not, I’m going to immediately Google you to see if I should.

    This has some serious implications!

    Oh, you a have a weblog.

    What if I don’t? You really mean Uh Oh.

    Excellent.

    Why? Hmmm…

    I believe that 90% of the opinion is formed here.

    Other Interests and Extracurriculars. Yeah, this is part of the first pass. I’m eagerly looking to find something that makes you different from the last fifty resumes I looked at. More on this in a moment.

    So, we’re done. It’s been ten to twenty seconds and I’ve already formed an opinion.

    It took at least that long to find my blog…hmmm…

    what are you really doing?

    There’s a good chance that I’ve already made a call whether to move forward on you.

    I have no doubt.

    If there are other folks checking the resume out, I can certainly be convinced to take a second look, but a basic opinion has been formed.

    How well informed they must be.

    Before we move to the second pass, let’s talk about the parts of your resume I didn’t look at and never will.

    Well I have already formed an opinion of you and your company!

  74. Duane 9 years ago

    A Glimpse and a Hook

    The terrifying reality regarding your resume is that for all the many hours you put into fine-tuning, you’ve got 30 seconds to make an impression on me. Maybe less.

    Communication problem.

    It’s unfair, it’s imprecise, and there’s a good chance that I make horrible mistakes,

    Poor Performance.

    No corrections to the process?

    but there’s a lot more of you than me,

    Blames you for the bad performance and management.

    and while hiring phenomenal teams is the most important thing I do, Highly doubtful!

    I’m balancing that task with the fact that I need to build product

    Hello!!

    and manage the endless stream of people walking into my office.

    Management and Control.

    No delegation of authority?

    Where are the supervisors?

    But here’s a glimpse. I’m going to walk through the exact mental process I use when I look at a resume.

    I don’t know if this is right or efficient,

    Why don’t you know?

    but after fifteen years and staring at thousands of resumes,

    Justification?

    this is the process.

    No policy or procedures, has ISO9000 implications. No review processes.

    The First Pass

    Your Name. It’s simple.

    This has to be a lead in…

    Do I know you?

    Nepotism?

    Whether I do or not, I’m going to immediately Google you to see if I should.

    This has some serious implications!

    Oh, you a have a weblog.

    What if I don’t? You really mean Uh Oh.

    Excellent.

    Why? Hmmm…

    I believe that 90% of the opinion is formed here.

    Other Interests and Extracurriculars. Yeah, this is part of the first pass. I’m eagerly looking to find something that makes you different from the last fifty resumes I looked at. More on this in a moment.

    So, we’re done. It’s been ten to twenty seconds and I’ve already formed an opinion.

    It took at least that long to find my blog…hmmm…

    what are you really doing?

    There’s a good chance that I’ve already made a call whether to move forward on you.

    I have no doubt.

    If there are other folks checking the resume out, I can certainly be convinced to take a second look, but a basic opinion has been formed.

    How well informed they must be.

    Before we move to the second pass, let’s talk about the parts of your resume I didn’t look at and never will.

    Well I have already formed an opinion of you and your company!

  75. Duane 9 years ago

    A Glimpse and a Hook

    The terrifying reality regarding your resume is that for all the many hours you put into fine-tuning, you’ve got 30 seconds to make an impression on me. Maybe less.

    Communication problem.

    It’s unfair, it’s imprecise, and there’s a good chance that I make horrible mistakes,

    Poor Performance.

    No corrections to the process?

    but there’s a lot more of you than me,

    Blames you for the bad performance and management.

    and while hiring phenomenal teams is the most important thing I do, Highly doubtful!

    I’m balancing that task with the fact that I need to build product

    Hello!!

    and manage the endless stream of people walking into my office.

    Management and Control.

    No delegation of authority?

    Where are the supervisors?

    But here’s a glimpse. I’m going to walk through the exact mental process I use when I look at a resume.

    I don’t know if this is right or efficient,

    Why don’t you know?

    but after fifteen years and staring at thousands of resumes,

    Justification?

    this is the process.

    No policy or procedures, has ISO9000 implications. No review processes.

    The First Pass

    Your Name. It’s simple.

    This has to be a lead in…

    Do I know you?

    Nepotism?

    Whether I do or not, I’m going to immediately Google you to see if I should.

    This has some serious implications!

    Oh, you a have a weblog.

    What if I don’t? You really mean Uh Oh.

    Excellent.

    Why? Hmmm…

    I believe that 90% of the opinion is formed here.

    Other Interests and Extracurriculars. Yeah, this is part of the first pass. I’m eagerly looking to find something that makes you different from the last fifty resumes I looked at. More on this in a moment.

    So, we’re done. It’s been ten to twenty seconds and I’ve already formed an opinion.

    It took at least that long to find my blog…hmmm…

    what are you really doing?

    There’s a good chance that I’ve already made a call whether to move forward on you.

    I have no doubt.

    If there are other folks checking the resume out, I can certainly be convinced to take a second look, but a basic opinion has been formed.

    How well informed they must be.

    Before we move to the second pass, let’s talk about the parts of your resume I didn’t look at and never will.

    Well I have already formed an opinion of you and your company!

  76. Phil C. 9 years ago

    Dude! This is great stuff. I teach technical and professional writing at a college in FL and I would love to use this post in class. Your insight is amazing.

  77. For an easy free way to start or write your resume I tried this and it worked well. http://resumizer.com

  78. For an easy free way to start or write your resume I tried this and it worked well. http://resumizer.com

  79. Duane 9 years ago

    Go for it Phil C.

  80. Wow, you guys are a complete waste of gray matter. Rands didn’t have to post this advice; he didn’t have to use a tone like your mommies used to; he doesn’t have to convince any of you of the “truth” of what he is saying – take it or leave it, if you want, but why all the pouting, hurt feelings, whining, accusations, contempt?

    I’d imagine because most of you are the product of two things: poor public school education and growing up in a culture where your “specialness” has been lauded by parents, teachers, and society at large – no matter what you actually do. My opinion is of course just that, an opinion, and I am sure some of you whiny brats don’t fit the above description. Still, seems pretty clear that most of you are so uncritical and undeservedly egotistic that you will not only look a gift horse in the mouth, but kick it in the teeth in thanks.

    No wonder Rands took the time to write this. If he got through to just 5% of you then it would be worth it if this is indicative of the current mindset of job applicants. Seriously and for heck’s sake, I am flabbergasted by the attitudes of an overwhelming number of these comments. G-d help our country if this is truly the state of the job pool. Whiny, uneducated, overly-sensitive, non-reflective, too stupid to know what you don’t know brats, all of you!

    I am just in friggin shock. I finish reading this post, thinking it’s got some good insight from an inside source, and realizing it is just that, ONE source. Sure, it’s not the norm for all, but he says that and then explains that this is how HE looks at it. Take it for what it’s worth, but why the visceral attacks?

    Anyway, thanks for the post, Rands. I feel for you if this is the kind of attitude you have to deal with from employees and job applicants in your field.

  81. Duane 9 years ago

    Pretty much what I expected. Nothing to actually solve problems. So once everyone has a hook in the resume…what’s next?

  82. WTF??

    “…On this one, the fellow put a subtle gray box around each of his section headings. On this other one, the candidate used a nice combination of serif and sans serif fonts to grab me.”

    Yea that is what is important – what font grabs your fancy on a particular day. Typical manager I guess.

  83. Very interesting point of view. I really like this. It was really helpful to me. Thank you!

  84. > “I’m spending time on are the ones that grab me visually, where there is something different. On this one, the fellow put a subtle gray box around each of his section headings. On this other one, the candidate used a nice combination of serif and sans serif fonts to grab me.”

    > “A resume is not a statement of facts. It’s a declaration of intent.”

    great points

  85. I wouldn’t want to work for this asshole.

  86. You had me till you started about formatting and using grey boxes blah blah.

    I dont think a standout resume needs to have great formatting, it certainly shouldnt look ungainly, but I have seen some cvs of some great people having some plain formatting.

    SO, *wrong advice*

  87. silvermine 9 years ago

    My guess is many of these respondants have never been in the hiring/interviewing position.

    I was desperate for someone to help me once, and I honestly took the first guy who didn’t obviously fabricate his skills section. It took a month.

    Other people would write HTML on their resume, even though they had never written any. In the phone interview they’d tell me how the designer would write the html and they would just write scripts to produce what the designer had created. Sorry fellow — that does not count as knowing HTML well enough to put on your resume. You can’t put anything there just because you’d heard of it!

    One guy had XSL-FO on his and even admitted in the phone interview that he’d never done any. (I mean, okay, credit for honesty on the phone, but I needed someone who actually *had* that skill!)

  88. Anarchitect 9 years ago

    I’m applying for a web development, web-services based job (as described) that focuses on open standards and ubiquitous data formats in a multi-platform environment.

    I’m going to give you my resume in XML and LaTex, you format it.

    Arguing if the author’s post is accurate or not for all or any resume is pointless. Moreover I think he illustrated greatly the disparity between who is hiring and who needs the work done. Have you (the one hiring) actually done any software development or engineering in the past week? If you are responsible for “first look” then the chances are you have not. HR Filters & Eliminates candidates based on whatever software and processes they have in place. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life. Anyone with any intelligence and success being hired understands two things: “This company has a need” and “This company does not need me”.

    If you spend 30 seconds dismissing my resume, expect to find someone who is going to spend 30 seconds dismissing your requirements document. You get what you put in.

    My opinion, great article, and is clearly meant to help.

  89. wired 9 years ago

    Hmm. I am amazed at a lot of the comments on this article. It mostly sounds about right to me, based on my experience both writing and reviewing resumes. I do tend to write resumes with the supposition that I am going to aim it towards the kind of person I want to hire me — in other words, if I do anything deviating from the straight and narrow format-, content-, or tone-wise, it should function to irritate those who I don’t want to work for and should ingratiate me with those whom I do want to work for.

    Thanks Rands, though I’d be surprised if you’re reading this!

  90. I thought this was an interesting article.

    A lot of angry people on the net. Maybe they just have shite CV’s and are out of work.

  91. scott 9 years ago

    Good Article!

    The writer clearly states how he filters resumes. That’s great knowledge! I’m pretty sure all hiring managers use a unique technique to filter resumes. I know i do and i’ve hired employees globally (Admin, IT, Sales, Marketing, etc). BTW – I’m not a recruitment agency or HR!

    My Process:

    1. I already have a clear vision of what skills/experience i’m looking for in a candidate.

    2. I’m impressed with uniquely designed and simplistic resumes, I think most hiring managers are. ( Graphic Designers, and Communications candidates do this well).

    3. I expect to see a cover letter, but i’ll rarely read one. Actually never! (I do read quick messages in the email body).

    4. I search for keywords/buzzwords that fit my requirements. I look for keywords anywhere, but give precedence to those found in the ‘Job Experience’ section.

    5. I look to make sure you are local. (I will not even interview you unless you live close to one of our facilities)

    6. I quickly scan to make sure you don’t jump from job to job.

    7. I will notice right away if you worked for a recognizable company or a competitor. I which industries you have experience in. Other than that, I don’t care who you worked for.

    Summary:

    It takes me 15sec to decide to not to press delete and approx. 1min to scan a good resume and make a decision to call. I focus mainly on the ‘Job Experience’ text and I am immediately drawn to well designed resumes. Also, I’ve been seeing ‘Call To Actions’ appear in headers of many resumes. I like these!

    Just some food for thought.

  92. scott 9 years ago

    You may notice grammatical errors above, but i would never do this on a resume… And neither should a candidate!

  93. scott 9 years ago

    And another note for hiring managers and HR’s. We tried the ‘Online Resume Manager’ approach, but found that we weren’t receiving qualitative information.

    Good candidates won’t bother filling out the surveys and mediocre candidates will over-embellish their skill level and knowledge base.

  94. Great stuff! One of the better interviews and resumes I have ever read or had, was with a young potential sales rep who had never sold before. I asked him what in his background would tell me he could sell? He said, “Well, I married the prettiest girl in my town.” I hired him.

    great blog, by the way, just found it!

    ~GL HOFFMAN, Jobdig, Minneapolis

    http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds

    what would dad say

  95. love my hassle free job 9 years ago

    Thank god I don’t work in an industry that hires like this. It’s unfortunate that the applicant is usually unable to screen the people who are doing the hiring prior to submitting a resume. I could never work for someone who makes their decisions like this because its exactly how they’ll behave when you need their assistance if you actually did get the job. You folks should all try and find some jobs where you don’t have to jump through flaming hoops to get noticed. Life’s way too short to work in an industry like the one this guys hiring for.

  96. Terri Ricks 9 years ago

    I understand that finding a job and preparing a resume was hasslesome. Knowing now that my resume is only looked a for thirty seconds is sad.

  97. Good post!

    Got nice comments as well… although many are insulting, some are really useful.

    Btw, just got your book.

  98. > Oh, you a have a weblog. Excellent.

    a typo here…

  99. Such an awesome blog.

    I thank you, I need some of these pointers for my next job.

  100. The art of writing resumes is not in the aesthetics or presentation of the resumes (most people do a pretty reasonable job of that). The trick is to make your resume relevant to a given job while making sure that your resume does not filter you out from any potentially interesting job openings that you may be qualified for.

    Albert

    Webmaster, InterEC.NET | Job Search For Engineers

    http://www.interec.net

    interec@interec.net