Confessions of a hiring manager

Confessions from the hiring manager’s side of the desk: here’s what most candidates don’t know

Peter Harris|

You see a job posting online. You write up your cover letter and prepare your resume and hit the Apply button. Ever wonder what’s happening on the other side of the equation? Here’s what happens next from the recruiter’s point of view.

Recruiters start receiving applications within 200 seconds of posting their job online. This is why job applications on Mondays result in more interviews than applications any other day of the week. More jobs are posted at the beginning of the week, and recruiters receive an average of 250 applications for each job. So hesitating can result in a resume being lost in a deluge of applications when the recruiter has already compiled a short list.

[See also: The best (and worst) days to apply for a job]

A resume has to grab an employer’s attention quickly – and make a positive impression that sticks. Given that volume of applications, most recruiters spend only five to seven seconds scanning each resume before deciding to reject it or put it aside for closer scrutiny.

Your cover letter has only a 17% chance of being read at all. It’s important to include one – but don’t count on the cover letter alone to tailor your skills to the specific job. That information has to be in the resume – and it has to be on the first page.

Recruiters will only read to the second or third page of a resume if the first page gives them a compelling reason to. A career summary or key skills list that relate specifically to the job applied for at the top of the page are effective ways to stand out off the top.

It’s very easy to make a negative first impression. Most recruiters say that one single typo or grammatical error can send a resume to the trash bin. 30% of recruiters say that their biggest pet peeve is receiving applications that are unqualified or irrelevant for the job. Almost half of those say that this bothers them so much that not only will they not consider the candidate, but they will also blacklist them from all future opportunities as well.

Of all the people who apply to a position, only 2% are selected for job interviews.

Most recruiters, 68% of them, say that will look up a candidate on Facebook before hiring them. And over 30% say that they have rejected someone solely based on something untoward they found out about them online. Your Facebook profile contains numerous clues that reveal how well you will perform on the job. If they can’t find you on Facebook at all – this could indicate that you don’t use social media or that you have something to hide.

Although job interviews will generally last over half an hour and consist of numerous questions and discussions, hiring managers are really only looking to discover three things about you. They want to know, if you can do the job, if you will like the job, and if you will be a good fit with the team. [See also: The only three job interview questions that matter.]

15% employers say that they won’t hire a candidate who focuses on salary more than anything else about the job during an interview.

Most hiring managers don’t like hiring. They want to find the right candidate quickly – and hire a great new addition to their team so that they can get back to work. They’re hoping that every resume will be error-free and demonstrate great credentials. They want the candidate who comes to an interview to be personable, confident and competent, so that they won’t have to interview anyone else.

So as a candidate, you start off with employers on your side – it’s up to you to avoid giving them a reason not to be.

See also: Five job interview secrets that employers don’t tell candidates

Source: Confessions of the recruitment industry,

Peter Harris
- Peter Harris on Twitter


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  • Richard Derek

    I do question the Facebook issue. For some people, they may be multiple accounts with the same name. So how does an employer confirm the identity of the person. For example, I can search a friend’s name on Facebook and find anyone but my friend and my friend’s account is ‘searchable’ according to Facebook. Then another time, the same friend’s account is at the top of the list.

  • Chantelle

    I would add that resumes that include a photo of the candidate are considered less; there is nothing necessary about including a photo, and therefore puts the recruiter in a position of questioning why it was included. My assumption is that this person posts selfies at all opportunities. This, to me, is indicative of someone who does not fit what I’m looking for.

  • jordan684

    “If they can’t find you on Facebook at all – this could indicate that you don’t use social media or that you have something to hide.” this is funny, imho. I tend to look for a prospective candidate’s profile on LinkedIn, not FB. I don’t care if they have a cat or if their high school reunition was last weekend.

  • jordan684

    “reunion” …. duh :)

  • Aro

    I think this article has some conflicting points with a previous article.

    I am confused should I apply or not apply if the job is asking for more than what I feel I have. Can somebody help?

    • Segr

      Do not bother to apply if you do not know anyone there,’cause you can bet the job will be going to the employer’s son/daughter/niece/ girlfriend/etc….