Do Recruiters Really Read Resumes?


Conventional wisdom has it that most resumes get an initial read of about 10-20 seconds as the reviewer is sorting through the stack, separating them into “circular file” and “investigate further” categories. Once past that initial sorting, though, what happens next? A professional forum I participate in has an ongoing thread on this topic, and the input from recruiters is worth noting.

One former internal recruiter indicated that she accumulated resumes for review once or twice a week. She then went at them with highlighter in hand and her job order book on the desk, reading objectives or titles and separating the resumes into piles. One pile was those that matched her current job orders, the other was for return to the recruiter pool.

She then skimmed each resume, starting with screen-out factors such as education and special certifications, and looked for specific experience directly related to the position. The ones that survived that screening went into a pile for more thorough review – sooner if there was a matching job order in hand/later if she knew a matching job order was coming up at some point in the future.

She did NOT read every word until and if she was ready to call someone for an interview.

A second former recruiter said that if the resume didn’t pass the 10-second test (catch his interest in 10 seconds or less), it went in the circular file. This former recruiter, now in the resume distribution profession, also noted that when sending out your resume, results are very dependent on the market for a particular set of skills on a particular day. In other words, assuming your resume passes that 10-second test, a lot depends on the luck of the draw.