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Résumés get less than a five-minute review

April 28 2014

A résumé is reviewed for less than five minutes before it is decided whether a job candidate proceeds to the next step in the hiring process, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s résumés, cover letters and interviews survey released today.

Additionally, 93 percent of respondents said inaccuracies in résumés either sometime (73 percent) or always (20 percent) negatively impacted their decision to extend a job interview.

When those surveyed were asked what gave candidates a positive edge over the competition, 66 percent said chronologically organized résumés, 43 percent said résumés in bulleted format, and 43 percent also said résumés tailored to a specific industry.

Additional findings include:

Résumés:

  • 76 percent of HR professionals said that job candidates should either include 8 to 10 years (38 percent) or all years (38 percent) of relevant job history.
  • 66 percent of organizations prefer chronological résumés, which list education and experience in reverse order.
  • 68 percent prefer to receive résumés through their organization’s website, followed by 14 percent who preferred email.

Cover letters:

  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees (33 percent) are more likely to ask for a cover letter than organizations (17 percent) with more than 500 employees.
  • 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).

Interviews and etiquette:

  • Sending a thank-you note after an interview is more important to smaller (less than 100 employees) and private-sector businesses than larger (more than 100 employees) and government organizations.
  • Panel and structured interviews are more common among government organizations, while semi-structured and screening interviews are more common among private-sector businesses.
  • The most common advice from HR: Address gaps in employment, bring a résumé to the interview, arrive 15 minutes early and address any employment assignment that ended in firing.

SHRM surveyed 411 randomly selected organization members throughout the United States.

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