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Ask the Headhunter/ General Management

Resumes: Now You See Them…

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by Nick Corcodilos
Contributing Writer
CMO.com

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If you’re hiring, the value of the nth resume you receive approaches zero because resumes are a commodity. Job boards and employers buy, sell, rent, and trade them in bulk for literally pennies apiece, if that. Nonetheless, employers encourage job hunters to submit their resumes in bulk because it seems human resources departments are judged by how many resumes (or applicants) are in their pipelines. (Last year, Monster.com alone took in more than $1.1 billion in revenue by processing electronic resumes. Yet companies that were polled reported that Monster was their source of hires only about 3% of the time.)

So why the emphasis on resumes? The Flowing Data blog provides a hint about why and how job hunters (and employers) get sidetracked during the hiring process. “How Recruiters Look At Your Resume” reveals how TheLadders uses “science” to prop up the big business of resumes.

Flowing Data reports on an “eye tracking” study done by TheLadders that brings resumes into sharp focus. According to Flowing Data, the study shows which parts of a resume recruiters actually look at and for how long:

“…recruiters spent about six seconds on a resume looking for six main things: name, current company and title, previous company and title, previous position start and end dates, current position start and end dates, and education. After that, it was a crapshoot.”

TheLadders’ report about where recruiters are looking forces job hunters to keep both eyes on this shell game. TheLadders pitches these “facts” hard:

  • Recruiters spend only about six seconds looking at a resume.
  • Recruiters find key information faster on a professionally written resume than on a “regular resume.”
  • Online profiles aren’t as effective as resumes.

What TheLadders doesn’t focus on in its “report”:

  • Managers say they spend several minutes reading a resume. (I spend about 30 seconds reading an unknown resume.)
  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that about 70% of jobs are actually found and filled through referrals. While TheLadders uses “science” to encourage consumers to worry about resumes and where recruiters are looking, hiring managers are the real decision-makers, and they’re finding their hires through personal contacts.
  • TheLadders is in the “professional resume writing” business—and wants to sell you an expensive rewrite of your resume.

Whether a recruiter is spending six seconds or a minute scanning a handful of data points on your resume, a smart job hunter is already talking with the hiring manager through a trusted personal referral. The bottom line is this: If you’re spending more than about six seconds worrying about your resume, then you’re probably wasting valuable time.

Jobs don’t come from resumes. But TheLadders' revenue comes from selling you a new, "professional" resume.

How important was your resume the last time you landed a job? Did you pay to have your resume written? How long do you spend reading resumes from job applicants? Come tell us about it on the discussion forum — where I’ll also tell you what a resume is actually good for. 

About Nick Corcodilos

Nick Corcodilos writes "Ask The Headhunter," a weekly blog on CMO.com in which he shows you how to tackle the daunting obstacles that job hunters and managers face when trying to work together. From time to time, Corcodilos also will provide feature stories offering insights into various management career strategies, In addition, his newest books, Keep Your Salary Under Wraps, How to Work with Headhunters and How Can I Change Careers?, are available as PDFs.

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