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Is 7 seconds really all it takes to screen a resume?

Aug 13, 2019

Wendy Kennah
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Wendy Kennah
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Hiring can be hard right now. In the current candidate driven market—where niche talent is only available for an average of 10 days—acquiring qualified contingent workers is tougher than ever. And many organizations are struggling to do it, with only 30 per cent reporting they’re able to fill a role within 30 days. The war for talent is a competitive landscape, and reducing time to hire while screening for a quality hire is critical to an effective talent acquisition strategy.


And when hiring managers admit to spending only up to seven seconds reviewing a resume, is it really enough time to assess the factors of fit required to continue to the next stage of the hiring phase?

Yes—If a recruiter or hiring manager has a trained eye for details, thoroughly understands the needs of their client or organization and understands the value of the right fit vs. a body in a seat.

When screening resumes, here are the factors of fit hiring teams should be able to uncover about a candidate in those seven seconds.

Did they research the role and organization? 
What to look for: Did the candidate tailor their resume to your position, or does it appear that he or she took the blanket approach and sent out mass emails? The most successful hiring teams can determine the level of effort a candidate took to research the role and organization and position their candidacy accordingly. A candidate who is engaged and passionate about the opportunity will take the extra time to specifically target their application to the position they’re applying to.

Do they have the required qualifications? 
What to look for: Does the candidate have the years of experience, education, professional designations or certifications required to do the job? Are their previous job titles the same or similar to the position you’re trying to fill? Data suggest that only 35 per cent of applicants are qualified for the jobs they apply to. Zero’ing in on dates and keywords within the work history section and the education portion of a resume will help determine if the candidate has the “must haves” required for the role.

Do they have the experience in the industry they're applying to?
What to look for: If you’re filling a position with a bank, does the candidate have any previous banking experience? When recruiting with a staffing agency, it’s common for most clients to prefer candidates who have worked within the same industry before, as they are likely a better fit for the technical and cultural environment.

Do they pay attention to detail? 
What to look for: How is the resume formatted? Are there any glaring grammatical errors or unnecessary charts and graphs? Did the candidate effectively make use of white space and include a separate technical skills section? Candidates who have an eye for detail will leave off heavy paragraphs and be able to succinctly summarize their qualifications with bullet point lists and quantifiable achievements.

Do they have any quantifiable achievements?
What to look for: Are there any numbers that prove the candidate achieved the business goals of previously held positions? Top talent will use results-based statements that include numbers and percentages to highlight their achievements.

Do they appear reliable? 
What to look for: Does the candidate’s work history section have long gaps in employment or a series of scattered short-term contracts? Short contract durations and long gaps can be an indication that there is an issue with performance, or that the worker will jump ship at any time for another opportunity. The best candidates who do have gaps in their work histories will include a brief statement explaining the reason why.  

Will commuting be a problem?
What to look for: Where does the candidate live in relation to the workplace and where were their previous positions located? Regardless of whether or not your organization offers remote or flexible work options, living too far away from the office could affect the worker’s attendance and productivity.

When recruiters receive an average of 250 resumes per corporate job posting, mastering the seven second method could mean the difference between acquiring top talent or losing a candidate to another offer.

The Voice of Talent: Return to the Office Report

Procom recently surveyed over 1,000 knowledge workers to discover how and where they prefer to work as offices re-open across North America.  

The Voice of Talent Report offers actionable insights into what workers expect in relation to mandatory vaccinations, remote work preferences, The Great Resignation, COVID-19 safety measures and more.

Access your complimentary copy to discover how to attract talent in a post pandemic world: 

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