Online resume

Employers view resumes for fewer than 11 seconds

Peter Harris|

Employers search the Workopolis database 16,000 times a day looking at candidate resumes – each search resulting in multiple resume views. Many more thousands of resumes are also submitted in online job applications. Workopolis can see in real-time how many resumes employers look at, and how long they spend on each resume page before saving it or moving on.

Nearly 80% of resumes don’t make the first cut. Employers shortlist an average of two out of every ten resumes viewed. This corresponds with our recent candidate survey where most people (65%) say that they applied to 10 opportunities before being hired for their most recent job.

Your application has to make an impression fast. Nearly 60% of employers spend just 11 seconds or less on the resume page before either saving or downloading it, or moving on.

Even those resumes that are selected have very little time to make an impression.
The resumes that are shortlisted by employers are viewed for 25 per cent longer than those that are immediately passed over.

Only about 14 per cent of recruiters spend more than one minute looking at a resume page. (By contrast, one third [32%] of candidates spend over a minute reading a job posting before moving on or deciding to apply.)

Everything moves quickly on the Internet. Think about when you conduct a Google search. You can see in the titles and descriptions on the search results page that many of the findings don’t match what you’re looking for – so you never click on them. Then of the pages you do check out, most will only get a quick scan to see if they contain the information you’re after.

The same works with employers having many, many applications available for every job they’re recruiting for. They’re going to work quickly to narrow down the choices. And since 80% don’t make the cut, you’re going to have to grab their attention and stand out quickly.

Resume tips for surviving the 11 second scan:

  • Have an optimized resume title. A scan of the Workopolis resume database turns up many thousands of resumes with the title Resume, C.V., or Curriculum Vitae. Employers already know what a resume is, so labelling it as such is a waste of valuable real-estate. This is your headline, the first thing anyone will read on the document that is their first impression of you. Make it count. Your resume should be titled the name of the job that you are applying for – or how you best describe your career.
  • Don’t open with a wordy paragraph about what you are looking for. Start with a skills summary of what you can offer employers instead. You don’t want the first thing that an employer reads in that quick scan to be a description of what you want. Make it what you can do.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs with bulleted lists for maximum readability. It’s harder to find information quickly in large blocks of text. When an employer has many resumes to go through, if you make it difficult for them to locate the information they’re looking for, there’s a good chance they’ll simply move on to the next resume.
  • List your work history with clear start and end dates in a consistent format in reverse chronological order. Employers consistently say that they want to see in a resume scan is where a candidates has worked, what they did on the job, and how their career has progressed.
  • Proofread. An obvious spelling mistake or typo will get your resume rejected in less than 11 seconds.

These findings are from our recent labour report, Thinkopolis IV: Time to Work. You can read the full report and view the infographic at http://workopolis.com/research.

See also:

  • The most useless words and phrases in Canadian resumes
  • Job hopping is the new normal
  • Ten jobs that will not exist ten years from now
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