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Poll Reveals HR Takes Less Than 5 Minutes to Review a Resume
 

From SHRM Online staff  4/28/2014
 
NASHVILLE, TENN.—Although most job seekers spend hours preparing resumes hoping to impress prospective employers, the typical human resource professional takes less than five minutes to decide if a candidate will move on to the next phase of the hiring process.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of the 411 respondents to a poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that they typically take less than five minutes to review a single resume and determine if an applicant is suitable for a job opening. The poll was released on April 28, 2014, during the SHRM Talent Management Conference & Exposition in Nashville.

In addition, the poll revealed that errors on resumes can prove costly; nearly all respondents (93 percent) said that inaccuracies have a negative impact on decisions to offer job interviews. When asked what gave candidates a positive edge over the competition, the top responses from the poll participants included a chronologically organized resume (66 percent), a resume in bulleted format (43 percent) and a resume tailored to a specific industry (43 percent).

Slightly more than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents said job candidates should explain in their job interviews if they were fired or laid off from a position. Fifty-seven percent of participants indicated that job candidates should neither emphasize nor hide gaps in employment.

“Just as there is an expectation of job candidates to be honest when prompted about their work history, it is equally important for HR professionals to be understanding of resume gaps,” said Deb Keary, SPHR, vice president of human resources at SHRM. “The number of layoffs we saw during the recession was historic—for that reason, job gaps should not be an automatic disqualifier.”

In addition the poll revealed that when receiving resumes:
--Respondents wanted job applicants to include eight to 10 years of work experience on their resumes (38 percent), or every year of relevant job history (38 percent).
--Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents preferred chronological resumes, which list education and experience beginning with the most recent.
--Most respondents (68 percent) prefer to receive resumes through their organization’s website, followed by via e-mail (14 percent).

In regards to cover letters, the poll revealed:
--Businesses with fewer than 500 employees (33 percent) are more likely to ask for cover letters than organizations with more than 500 employees (17 percent).
--The most important aspects of a cover letter are how the job candidate’s work experience meets the job requirements (51 percent), how the job candidate’s skills meet the job requirements (48 percent) and why the candidate wants to work at the organization (45 percent).

In addition, the poll included questions about interviews and job-seeker etiquette and found:
--Sending thank-you notes after an interview was more important to smaller (fewer than 100 employees) and private-sector businesses than to larger (more than 100 employees) businesses and government agencies.
--Panel and structured interviews are more common among public-sector employers, while semi-structured and screening interviews are more common among private-sector businesses.

The most common advice offered by poll respondents was:
--Address gaps in employment.
--Bring a resume to the interview.
--Arrive 15 minutes early to the interview.
--Be prepared to address any previous jobs that ended because of a discharge or layoff.
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