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How Long Does a Recruiter Look at a Resume?

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How Long Does a Recruiter Look at a Resume?

Franklin Buchanan |

One of the most common questions I get as a Resume Writer and Certified Professional Career Coach from my clients is about how long a resume should be.

I spent 15 years in the recruiting industry operating on all sides - recruiter, sales, marketing, and training. I've looked at more resumes than I can count and at this point I can scan one in a couple of seconds and know everything I need to know.

But that's my perspective.

I asked some of the top recruiters that I know how long they think a resume should be. Here are there answers with more of my thoughts below. I also asked them how long they felt a resume should be.

How Long Do Recruiters Look At A Resume and How Long Should A Resume Be?

Caroline Pennington - Founder of "Feminine Founder" and former Executive Recruiter.
"Two seconds and no longer than two pages."

Adam Bourgoin - Talent Acquisition Manager, RS&H
"Depends on the level of the role, but for the most part a candidate has around 30 seconds for something to grab my attention. I will glance at education, but I will usually go straight to their most recent job and look for relevance to what my current needs are. If it's a match, I will do a more thorough review. If not, it gets rejected."

Summer Weinspach - Talent Acquisition Consultant, Piedmont Augusta
"It honestly depends on the position I'm hiring for, but I usually look at a resume for 30 seconds or so. If they are a fit for the position, I will take a longer look. I prefer a one page resume - two pages max.

Kelli Long - Founder, KG Workforce Solutions
"Our initial review of a resume is about 10-15 seconds. We look at job titles, locations, and places of employment and scan bullets for duties and successes that are related to the job for which the candidate has applied. We dive deeper and look at the details if we see something we like. We move on if we don't see what we are looking for after the initial scan."

Katie Gardner - Senior Technology Recruiter, Wells Fargo
"I initially look at a resume very quickly - probably 30 seconds to scan it. If I'm interested and think I have a qualified candidate, I will take more time and look at their current role, then start from the bottom of the resume to review their career progression. I DO Care how long a resume is. I don't think a resume should be longer than 4 pages and that's for a very experienced candidate."

Fascinating responses and if you read through them you'll see a lot of similarities and a few differences.

A few key takeaways for me:

The Initial Resume Scan

1. I was taught very early in my recruiting career not to look at a resume for longer than 10 seconds. I can still hear my first manager walking around the pit at Aerotek saying, "that resume isn't going to call itself." Recruiters are efficient!

2. When I was training recruiters at Kelly Services, the number we gave was 6.7 seconds. According to Indeed the average is 6 - 7 seconds. But you can see the range of the recruiters in this article going from 2 seconds to 30 seconds.

3. Regardless, even if recruiters were looking at resumes for 30 seconds, that still isn't a lot of time. So you have to get your point across quickly.

How Long A Resume Should Be

1. Caroline doesn't want a resume longer than 2 pages, Summer prefers a 1 page resume, and Katie doesn't want a resume longer than 4 pages.

2. There's never really a right answer to this question because everyone is different. Having worked with a number of technology recruiters, they're a little more tolerant of a longer resume.

3. While I think that a 2-page resume is still standard, the question that you want to ask yourself is whether or not the information is relevant and not redundant.

Is Your Resume Relevant To The Job?

1. Adam talked about if your resume is a match, Summer a fit, Kelli about successes related to the job, and Katie qualifications.

2. You have to tailor your resume to the job that you're applying for. It doesn't have to be this massive rewrite - your experience is what it is. You can't change it.

3. But your headlines, summary, and skills section should all match what you're applying for to grab the reader for that initial hook.

The ultimate takeaway is that by keeping your resume concise and tailored to the job, you're going to get more call backs from recruiters.

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