What a recruiter notices on a resume in the first 20 seconds of studying it – a Facebook hiring executive’s story
Users of the Quora Q&A service asked themselves what the first thing recruiters pay attention to when reading job seekers’ resumes. Facebook’s hiring manager Ambra Benjamin described her way of working.
According to Benjamin, the way we select suitable resumes varies from recruiter to recruiter, but she says the “world of hiring” is much simpler than most people imagine. The first thing most hiring professionals do is weed out the resumes of candidates who are categorically unsuitable for the given role – and leave only those who look like “they should be given a chance.”
Benjamin notes that she is currently primarily hiring experienced developers, but has worked with product managers, salespeople, and finance professionals in the past – and the rules she uses when handling resumes apply to any of the areas described.
A Facebook hiring manager pays attention to the following points in the first 20-30 seconds of studying a resume:
- Last post. “I am trying to determine why a person might be interested in getting a job with us. If he’s only been in his current position for three months, maybe now is not the best time to invite him for an interview? If the candidate sent the resume himself – why is he looking for a job? Was he fired? Is he going to quit? But, most importantly, is his experience relevant to the position I need to close?”
- Companies in which the applicant worked. As Ambra Benjamin notes, she is always interested in where a candidate has worked in the past, simply because it gives a good idea of his background. Amazon employees are accustomed to working on large-scale projects, former startups have tried many roles at once and can work in a limited time. By the name of a company, Benjamin says, one can easily make an assumption about its employee – the similarities are visible after two or three interviews with former employees of the same organization.
- General experience. Has the applicant shown rapid career growth? Has his level of responsibility increased over time? Does the position indicated make any sense? (“You were the VP of Marketing for a five-person company? I guess I could be, too.”)
- Search by “keywords”. Does the candidate have the skills that will be required of him in the new position? In some cases, the recruiter says, when she comes across particularly voluminous resumes, she even uses the “Command + F” key combination for the initial analysis to find technologies of interest to her (“If they don’t exist, I will have to conduct a deeper analysis, but sometimes it is convenient get to the right place”). According to Benjamin, this does not mean that a job seeker must add 250 keywords to his resume, but it is worth making sure that he mentions his core skills.
- Career gaps. Any gap, writes Ambra Benjamin, should be accompanied by an explanation of why it arose. Whether a person was engaged in his children at that time or tried to create his own company, the recruiter’s questions will cause a significant gap in professional life rather than having irrelevant experience. Moreover, says the Facebook hiring manager, irrelevant experiences can often be presented in such a way as to increase their own rating in the eyes of the recruiter.
- “Trace” in the network. According to Benjamin, this is not a required item, but she herself always follows the links that the applicant took the trouble to add to her resume. These can be profiles on Quora, GitHub, Dribbble, Twitter, and so on. “To be honest, this is one of my favorite parts of the selection. You never know what awaits you.”
- Logistics. Where does the candidate live and whether he or she has a legal opportunity to work in the United States. “I’m not weeding out candidates at this stage, I’m just trying to figure out who they are,” says the author.
- General organization of the resume. How literate the candidate is, is he able to clearly structure information and convey his ideas to the reader. This is especially important for marketers.
In general, according to her, it usually takes no more than 25 seconds for Ambra Benjamin to check all these points. This initial check helps her to highlight résumés that she will come back to later for more in-depth study and to discard candidates that she immediately disliked.
There are also things that Benjamin, as she herself admits, almost never pays attention to:
- Education. The recruiter notes that she used to pay attention to this – when she worked with students. “Otherwise, experience is king of the resume,” she says. Of course, says Facebook’s hiring manager, it’s a good idea for a marketing director to have a degree, but education doesn’t play a decisive role here either.
- Unusual design of the document. “I really like it when the candidate is creative in the design of the resume. But no amount of creativity can compensate for the lack of experience,” explains Benjamin. In addition, she notes, candidates should keep in mind that a “creative” resume rarely reaches the hiring specialist – more often than not, the system automatically converts it into a standardized form that is convenient for the recruiter. If the applicant wants his resume to reach the employer in the form in which he sent it, you should contact the specific person directly.
- Personal details. In Europe, says Ambra Benjamin, it is quite common for candidates to include some personal information on their resume – for example, citizenship, gender, height, weight, marital status, and so on. In the United States, such details can confuse a recruiter – in this country, companies try to avoid any form of discrimination, and the appearance of such data in the application can cause discomfort to the recruiter. Don’t even include your own photo.
- Transmittal letter. The author says that there are discussions about the benefits of such texts, but she herself never reads them. “Most companies only ask for cover letters to weed out candidates who didn’t bother writing them.”
Benjamin also provided some personal resume writing tips:
- Bring something personal to your resume. We are not talking about personal information like height or gender, but about the style of the text. “A lot of recruiters spend all day looking at resumes – add a few jokes to it to make hiring a little more fun. But try to stay within your own industry.”
- Add links to your own profiles in social networks and on specialized sites.
- List a few of your own projects. “I always ask during a telephone interview what the applicant does in his free time, what he is working on. It is very inspiring at times.”
There are also a few things that a Facebook hiring manager does not recommend doing job seekers:
- Use standard resume templates from Microsoft Word. “Especially the one in which the name is highlighted by two horizontal lines at the top and bottom.”
- Write a resume in the first person. “Only people who are smart about their resume can do it well. If no one has ever told you that you are smart, most likely you are not. So just don’t write your resume in the first person.”
- Create a huge resume. “An eight-page resume, unless you are a Nobel laureate, will impress no one.”
- Mix multiple styles of storytelling.
- Send your resume to the CEO of the company. With few exceptions, Benjamin says, executives don’t read resumes. “For recruiters, this is just an excuse to laugh.”
- Exaggerate your own merits. “The truth always comes to the surface.”