How Recruiters Read Resumes In 10 Seconds or Less

The 10 or 20 seconds it takes to read a resume seems to always generate a lot of controversy. Candidates comment on how disrespectful it is, how one can’t possibly read a resume in that time and some get angry at recruiters when we talk about this. I hope this article will help everyone understand how we do this. I realize that some still may not like it and will still be angry, but at least you can understand how it works.

First, let me say I’ve been a recruiter for 30 years.  I’m sure I have reviewed over 500,000 resumes. I can’t prove this but I’m reasonably confident that this is the case, as this is only an average of about 46 a day. I know many days I have reviewed hundreds of resumes and most in less than 20 seconds. I would say the average is probably around 5 to 7 seconds.

So for the record when you hear or read about, “reading a resume in 20 seconds,” that isn’t completely true. It is more than likely, “reviewed the resume in 20 seconds.”

Here is my process for getting through 100’s of resumes in a short period of time. Others may have different ways and I welcome your comments.

I set up a hierarchy of certain “must haves” or you’re out, so at first I’m really just box checking. Generally, 80% of the time these are my knock out blows. There are exceptions to each of these, but I’m dealing with the 80/20 rule. These are not cumulative times.  This is box checking, if I see any one of these as I scan your resume you will be excluded.

1. Location. If the client is in Los Angeles, CA and you aren’t – goodbye. Few if any clients want to relocate anyone in this economy, and I believe most shouldn’t have to. Especially in a huge metropolitan area like Los Angeles. If they do have to consider relocation the position has to require some very unique experience that few jobs do. I can do this in about 1 second.

2. Industry. If my client is in banking and your background is primarily manufacturing – goodbye.  These two often are so different that the client isn’t open to considering such different industries. This works both ways, if you have a manufacturing background I’m not going to consider someone with banking. 2-3  seconds to determine this.

3. Function. If I’m doing a sales search and your background isn’t sales – goodbye. Generally companies are paying recruiters to find them a perfect fit. We never do find a perfect fit, but we have to be very close. They don’t need a recruiter to find them someone in a completely different function. 2 seconds to figure this one out.

4. Level. If I’m doing a VP level search and your title is “manager” and you have never been a VP – goodbye. There are exceptions to this, but again it is the 80/20 rule. Again, clients pay me to find them the perfect fit. It is generally way too big of a jump from manager level to VP level, all other things being equal. It works the other way too. If  I’m looking for a manager and you are a VP – goodbye. I know you are qualified to do a manager level role, but it is clear you have grown past. Most clients and recruiters aren’t willing to take the chance that when a VP level position comes along that you won’t be gone. Less than 5 seconds to figure out.

5. Recent Experience. There is some overlap on this one. If I’m searching for someone with international sales experience in the aerospace industry and the last time you held an international sales position in this industry was 20 years ago and since then you have been in retail – goodbye.  I can find people with more relevant experience and that is what my client expects me to do. 5 seconds to do this.

6. Education Like it or not, I will only work with people that have a college education and most of the time a master’s degree. This is mainly because, as I indicated before, I need to find the very best for my clients. I realize an education doesn’t mean by itself that the candidate is the best, but it is one qualifier of many. Also all of my clients require at least a BA.

7. Turnover. If you have had 6 jobs in the last 4 years, or have a track record of high turnover – goodbye. I realize there are good reasons for turnover and that falls into the 20% of the 80/20 rule. I can’t define high turnover, but I know it when I see it. 3 – 5 seconds.

8. Functional resume. I don’t read them. It is obvious when one has a functional resume they are trying to hide something and I’m rarely going to take the time to attempt to figure it out. 1 second.

9. Obvious things such as, spelling errors, poor format, errors in grammar, too long, verbose and rambling. If after reading it I still can’t figure out what you do, goodbye. 5 – 10 seconds

After all this, 80 – 100% have been eliminated. If there are any left, then I will take the time to actually read  them in detail.

Here are some FREE downloads to help you get your resume past the 10 second screen.

Download our free Job Search Scorecard. Use this scorecard to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your job search. Then work on the weaknesses. CLICK HERE to download.

Download our free LinkedIn Profile Scorecard. Is your LinkedIn profile compelling? Use this tool to help you build a great profile so people contact you. CLICK HERE to download.

Join our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group for a lot more discussions, information and articles on your job search. CLICK HERE to join.

Download a sample cover letter proven to work with recruiters and get your resume noticed. CLICK HERE to download yours. Over 2,000 people have done this.

If this was helpful to you, please pass it along to help others in  your network. Consider adding it to your status on LinkedIn, posting on Twitter, or emailing the link to your network. Please help others if this helped you.

I welcome your thought and comments.

Brad Remillard



About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  • By Walter Roth, January 18, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

    While I am not, nor never have been, a recruiter I have reviewed a lot of resumes in my 40 year management career. And I could not have summarized my approach any better than that outlined above by Mr. Remillard. First look for the “kick-outs” and then spend quality time on the remaining resumes. And I keep it in mind when I write my resume.

  • By MikeB, January 18, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    Good stuff, Brad – and all quite reasonable. The only somewhat surprising one is the functional resume. But in light of #2, it makes sense, because changing industries is the main use of that format (from what I’ve heard.)

    It is not encouraging for someone hoping to change careers, but I suppose that is where networking with personal friends/contacts comes in. Recruiters are not paid to do this kind of stuff…

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 18, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

    Walter Thanks for the support.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 18, 2010 @ 4:17 pm


    Thanks. The best way to make an industry change if your skills aren’t transferable is to network with people who know you and can vouch for you.

  • By Martin, January 18, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

    Great post and it makes sense. I have a question about #5 and it’s something very close to my heart. At what point does recent experience become irrelevant?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 18, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Recent experience is never irrelevant if my client is looking for it. If a client or company doesn’t need that experience then it doesn’t matter.
    In the example international experience was used. If you have a lot of recent international exp. and my client is only domestic then all your recent international exp. is not relevant.

  • By Ferd Dong, January 18, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

    …and this is why, when I see a job advertisement by a recruiter, I toss it and say “goodbye”!

  • By Craig Canter, January 18, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    At what point do I not emphasize my experience? I can honestly say I’ve saved a prior employer millions but it was in the late 80’s.

  • By Peter Szymonik, January 18, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    While not in total disagreement, I believe what’s detailed about is exactly why business are NOT finding the innovative business leaders people they need to make positive changes, drive revenues and grow business.

    If all you’re looking for is the square box to fit a square hole – guess what – you will get exactly what you’re looking for, along with all of the problems and reasons why the last person failed or was mediocre and ailed to meet their goals or offer anything new and different in the first place.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 18, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

    Craig Experience is important. But your question implies that others don’t have excellent experience also. Obviously we aren’t going to compromise on experience and fit, but we we keep looking until we find someone that first meets all the criteria listed and has excellent experience.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 18, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

    Peter see my comment to Craig. These are not mutually exclusive. You can have experience, fit and be a great employee.

  • By John Johnson, January 19, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    1. Location: what if I live within a one hour commuting distance? Or do you disqualify me by making assumptions about how I might commute?
    2. Industry: do any transferable skills count? Are you even able to evaluate transferable skills?
    3. Function: what if my previous job title isn’t an exact match? Many companies use different titles for similar jobs, and many more heap responsibilities upon employees that aren’t reflected in their title.
    4. Level: so you assume my aspirations for me. Maybe I rose to VP in a very small company but feel more confident in as a middle manager in a larger company. If you and your client are so worried that I won’t stay then you must be hiding a major work environment problem.
    5. Recent Experience: with a poor job market since 9/11 many of us having taken what jobs we could find, while continuing seek what we really want. Just because we haven’t been fortunate enough to recently work in your exact position does not mean that we haven’t kept up and are no longer qualified.
    6. Education: do you factor in industry certifications and professional licenses? Most of those indicate better aptitude than the usual BA or MS degree.
    7. Turnover: do you consider that several factors beyond a candidate’s control effect how long they can stay in one job — temporary contracting, out-sourcing, and lots of small business failures for example?
    8. Functional resume: on one hand recruiters complain that they need to find relevant experience quickly, but on the other hand if I present that information to you it will be automatically rejected?
    9. Obvious things: granted some of your arguments have merit, but subjective things like “poor format” are impossible for a candidate to anticipate. What you consider “great” can be considered “poor” by others.

    “If there are any left, then I will take the time to actually read them in detail.” Yes, it’s a wonder that you would have any left, and a wonder that you ever do make a match.

  • By Pam, January 19, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    WELL SAID!! You perfectly summarize what I have tried to explain to job seekers for years. Our clients are looking for us to find the perfect fit. It’s what we’re hired to do. It’s why we have to reject so many applicants, though they are convinced they can learn the required skills. We have to find the people who already have them.
    Similar to quality assurance testers for our food we consume, the QA testers are not paid to contemplate whether the product might pass. Either it is a good, safe product or not. Period. Same in the world of recruiting.

  • By Platypus, January 19, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    I believe this article justifies the perception of arrogance that many people have against recruiters rather than doing anything to dis-spell it.

    Take location as an example… unless you have a degree in cartography, spending one second determining if the location is within proximity to the job is challenging. Plus, this only tells you where they candidate is, not where they would be willing to travel to or relocate to on their own dime. (When I lived in Southern California, I frequently rejected offers for positions due to the route the commute would require, even though it wasn’t that far away as the crow flies.) A functional résumé is a very appropriate format for someone who has held multiple, progressive positions within the same company, or held similar positions with more than one. It allows for presentation of a candidate’s value much better than redundantly posting experiences for multiple employers. Using a chronological résumé leaves the candidate open to the perception that those same progressive advancements equate to turnover by some lazy recruiter who only wants to commit 20 seconds to doing the job he or she is paid for.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 19, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

    John you are shooting the messenger clients set the rules not the recruiter. They pay us to do this screening for them.
    You may not like it but that is how it goes.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 19, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

    Pam thanks. Some candidates will never understand. Do you find it as surprising as I do that the very candidates complaining now on the screening process, change and require it when they are hiring managers.
    This has always amazed me.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 19, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

    Sorry but this is what our clients require.
    There is a big difference between a one hour commute and living out of state. I can make that assessment in 1 second, especially if 1) my client will not relocate, 2) tells us they don’t want to speak to candidates out of state and 3) I have well qualified candidates in the local area.

  • By Daniel, January 19, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

    real practical stuff, unlike some business school having meeting teach people how to decorate their resume, they acted like the more time spend on resume the more chance you would get, very feel sorry for those nice guys. Some one even recommended me to do a functional resume,glad didn’t waste time on this, probably she just wanted make fun out of it coz she knows it would never work out.

  • By Tilden Martin, January 20, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    Because of the volume of resumes we receive a shorthand method of reviewing them is essential. I have a choice, don’t read all of them or do an initial scan. I believe it is more discourteous to do not read them. Brad’s guidelines are right on. Typically my decision can be made based on his first three must haves. Our client companies establish the criteria we use to qualify candidates and while we don’t always agree with them, we cannot deviate. I attempt to respond to every email and phone call I receive from people that are in a job search. My response may be brief and not what they hope to hear but I feel an obligation to give them resolution. Not responding is the worst discourtesy.
    I understand the frustration job seekers are experiencing in today’s economy; lets hope for a recovery this year.

  • By Manojt, January 20, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    While I agree that everyone has to have a method to the madness when it comes to recruiting but what i don’t like is the holier than thou attitude of the Executive Recruiters. They project the image that they make or break people’s careers and no exec will get a position if a resume is not written in the style of their preference. It’s sad that people take such a narrow view of things. There are more important things to look at than a few spelling errors and missed commas. A good recruiter can read between the lines and go beyond their checklist. (Sorry for inadvertant spelling and grammatical errors.)

  • By Platypus, January 20, 2010 @ 9:49 am

    As a hiring manager, I expect recruiters to find the perfect candidate based upon the job description, skills, and criteria that I establish, such as where the position will be based. If you tell me that you automatically reject applicants based upon the factors you listed, then you are of no value to me, and I will find someone willing to work for the fee I pay them rather than taking short-cuts.

    All I’m saying is that if I say I prefer someone local to the position and won’t pay for relocation, that is not a green light for you to ignore the perfect candidate because he lives across the river in another state.

  • By Kathy Meek, January 20, 2010 @ 11:53 am


    Your article fits recruiter screening very well. As a corporate recruiter at CareTech, I use this system daily. I have recruited both as internal recruiter at CareTech and as external recruiter while at Ranal and Turner Group Services. No matter the industry, the technique is the same.

    Be careful when tossing out any jobs posted by recruiters as some are internal and looking to hire for the company they themselves are employed by. I understand how frustrating it can be in the job market today. Just be careful that your anger does not come through when you are seeking employment.

    Thanks for sharing everyone.

  • By Christine Collins, January 20, 2010 @ 11:56 am

    Do you use the same criteria for reading contract positions on resumes? In light of the statement “If you have had 6 jobs in the last 4 years, or have a track record of high turnover – goodbye” you are not factoring in the person who may have been laid off in this economy and has had to rely on contract positions. I was with the same company from 1991 to 2005, and had worked my way to senior management and was laid off. Due to the lack of good IT jobs, it took me 6 months to find a job in a contract position, at a much lower title and pay rate. Then another employee position for a year, lay-off. Then another contract position, 9 months, now unemployed for over 16 months in Florida at over 12% unemployment. I am not alone. The fact that the lay-offs are because the employer is shipping jobs off-shore or we are in a major recession is not relevant to your clients because you won’t even show them the accomplishments on those short-lived positions. What a waste that you don’t look closer at the quality of the candidate’s contributions to every employer regardless of time employed before deciding that multiple jobs in a short time period is a bad thing.

    Personally, I think someone who can come into a company and make major contributions to their success in a very short period of time should be looked upon with resprect, not derision. Since it is not common practice to put why you left a job on a resume, you do not ever know the reasons for the “job hopping.”

    I know it has not always been the feast of candidates that you have now and I am sure that at some time during your career you read a resume and decided the person had merit and passed it along to the client even though they failed one of the tests you say you use.

    But for now, I guess it is good that we are hearing the truth about why we are not being called in for interviews and can keep our self-esteem knowing that our credentials are very rarely looked at beyond a 10 second glance.

  • By Preston, January 20, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

    Let me preface my comments with this information. I am a Veterans Representative specializing in Employment/Training services trained at the state and national levels, educated to the graduate level, willing to relocate to another state as I am searching for employment closer to my fiance and I am in touch with both the applicant and employer side of this conversation.

    Location- If your clients don’t want applicants from outside a certain area they need to succinctly put that in their job posting, few employers rarely do so they bring this upon themselves. Also, I have several of my clients willing to relocate to find employment and pay their own costs and work out the move themselves. Wherever you got the idea that in today’s economy and labor market environment applicants aren’t willing to move, I have no idea but it is, on the whole, false.

    Points 2 through 5 I concede in general to your analysis with 80/20 rule in effect.

    Education- Leaving out or downing someone with a BA/BS as compared to someone with a Masters without considering their experience collectively is irresponsible and does not necessarily provide the best prospect for your client. I have worked with many Masters level employees that are not nearly as competent as those with a BA/BS. Experience needs to be closely correlated to give your client the best options. This cant be considered adequately in the time frame you have provided. It also lowers the importance of experience to be substandard under education. I will concede some of your client s may be obstinate about this but they could be counseled and maybe they would allow a few select individuals with the right experience to be considered and this takes more effort on your part. I am big on this as this gives my veterans no credit for the experience they have accrued because it was not collegiate.

    Turnover – Unless your client identifies a specific work history requirement, more than two jobs in fours years for example, in today’s labor market with the constant layoffs from entry level to VP staff, its just not a realistic expectation for anyone. Ten jobs in two years, I could see. Additionally, the consideration of promotions and career improvement are just common sense which i guess these days is no longer common.

    Functional Resume- If recruiters would read functional resumes and spend less time being conspiracy theorists they might be able to find some decent prospects for their clients. A functional resume gives you the experience, accomplishments and skills in a very clear concise manner right up front, the way you say you want it. Its also appropriate for applicants with extensive or short work histories, to focus on their experience, accomplishments and skills. The acceptance of chronological resumes only is small-minded and narrow in vision and is a cop-out for sitting down and actually reading a resume.

    I agree that this is why people are using recruiters, in the traditional sense, less often. They are equivalent to our current legislators reading the legislation they have been passing. They skim it and think they are making the right decision for their clients but in the end, their clients are left with a substandard solution and it often costs them even more money.

  • By Mark, January 20, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

    “The 10 or 20 seconds it takes to read a resume seems to always generate a lot of controversy. Candidates comment on how disrespectful it is, how one can’t possibly read a resume in that time and some get angry at recruiters when we talk about this. I hope this article will help everyone understand how we does this. I realize that some still may not like it and will still be angry, but at least you can understand how it works…”

    This article makes a lot of sense. It also reminds me of another comment I’ve seen by another recruiter at of all places:

    “Kyle, funny you bring this up. I recently had a lengthy dispute with a fellow recruiter. She brought up searching facebook etc. on potential candidates, she also spouted off in a previous discussion that she spends 15 seconds looking at a resume and makes a determination. My response to her was you spend 15 seconds reviewing someones career but 30 minutes searching them on the web? Her priorities are clearly misguided.”

    Reviewing a resume for 15 seconds when you have too many resumes and too little time is fine.

    Reviewing a resume for 15 seconds then spending much more time looking up the answers to the illegal interview questions about the candidate (such as trying to find his or her religion, ethnicity, age, marital status, number of children, etc. on FaceBook or MySpace) is disrespectful.

  • By Bruce, January 21, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    Good article, but I have a quick question about the education requirement. I graduated high school, went to work right out of high school and during the 16 years at work I moved up within the company to be the IT Manager. During that times I’ve taken classes on and off, when time and money allow, working towards a degree in IT.

    Even with the experience (past 5 years as manager), some college, and longevity with a company just because I don’t have a BS I would be thrown out? I realize your clients have requirements, that’s completely understandable. So is there a way to find a position without the BS? A way to get yourself noticed so to speak?

  • By Michael Mann, January 22, 2010 @ 12:25 am

    A very bright man once said that “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them”. It is a sad reality that Brad now practices his skill in perhaps the only way manageable…20 seconds at a time. This is a problem for all, because finding the BEST possible candidate for his clients is simply not possible in 20 second increments. It’s just simply efficient and cost effective.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, January 22, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    Sorry but your comments assume incorrectly that I can’t find highly qualified people that meet the criteria outlined in the article.
    That is what recruiters are paid to do.

  • By Paul Selway, January 25, 2010 @ 8:22 pm


    As a candidate I am also in denial; as a hiring manager your process is not a million miles away from mine. Scary.

    Sometimes it is hard to accept that your resume is simply a marketing document, with the sole purpose of getting you an interview.


  • By Serkan Yuruk, January 26, 2010 @ 8:57 am

    I am totally agree with your filters except the functional resume. Mostly it is used to hide the inexperience and industry. But i gave them a chance most of the time. Because the other filters gave you the signal of ‘NO’ but functional resume can tell you only ‘there is something wrong with this guy’.

  • By Andy Newman, January 26, 2010 @ 1:27 pm


    As a professional in the recruitment field for 20 years I can say I have also seen my fair share of resumes. I can also say there is no doubt that I have blown it a few times and inadvertently screened out the exceptional candidate simply because I didn’t check the “key word” box.

    I have to agree and disagree with the article.

    My agreement comes from being able to sift through a large volume of resumes is time consuming and it requires some form of diligence in how the screening is conducted.
    If the client requires certain things, and you know those things are realistic, then you should screen for them. Otherwise, I believe it is your role as a professional recruiter, who has a pulse on the industry, to consult with the client and help them realize what it will take to hire the exceptional candidate. e.g. a Master’s degree doesn’t mean they have the behaviors necessary to achieve results in the company. I would screen for results.
    I also agree with the skills and experience. If the position is for an IT manager, someone who has been selling Mary Kay for the last 5 years is not going to be too up on the technical skills required.
    I disgree a little with Manager vs. VP. If I was a lawyer I may be a managing partner at a firm. Can’t that equate to a VP in corporate? I take into account the scope and size of their “manager” or “VP”. I also realize not every company uses the same titles to do the same role. I look at this a little more indepth. But, I do agree, in a fair amount of cases VP and Manager don’t always map well.
    My final disagreement comes in the totality of the article. If you are an agency recruiter I am not paying you to post the job on a generic job board and review responses. I have people in the company I can pay a lot less to do that. What I pay an agency to do is to utilize their network and industry knowledge to seek out and find candidates. They then use their sales skills to present my company’s offering to get the high potential candidates interested. I also expect them to be a partner in the whole process, all the way through offer and start date.

    I have never been one to screen in or out because of resume format. I can see merit either way. I just do my best not to have assumptions just because a candidate uses a certain format.

    In conclusion, there is a need to have some diligence in the mechanics of reviewing resumes in order to find the top 20% in the shortest time period. I just think it should be a little more indepth and a little less box checking.

    To me what you describe is administrative assistance not recruiting and it is why so many people think recruiters are not worth their weight in gold.

  • By Markus Keller, January 27, 2010 @ 5:48 am

    I think you are paid to do exactly what you don’t do. To check properly every resume and find the right person and skills according to your customer requirements.
    Imagine if the same people, like software engineer reading thousands line of code, will have your same approach ! What a mess.
    Probably, I hope that you work in a field where not great skills are required…and in this case maybe the approach is correct. Otherwise exactly in the lines that you do not read, you miss the right candidates. Past experience, skills, personal beahviour are in the lines. A candidate who plays piano or paint could be better than another with a clean and perfect CV. Usually most a guy is a “genius” and more is complicate, while more a guy is a fast, not observer, not deep in thinking and more wants to do a fast CV, fast interview and job. This is the reason that good candidates pass using other channels like personal vouch. Anyway I’ve seen also recruiters using a different approach and working with a very short list of CV, because they used other approach. Anyway for hiring at McDonald’s I think you do the right steps. If I have to fly on an airplane with a candidate screened by you, I would take another flight !!

  • By Barry Deutsch, January 28, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    Markus, thank you for your thoughts. I liked your analogies. Here’s another one.

    Let’s pretend you require open heart surgery. You interview a number of heart surgeons and discover that most are nice folks with the right pedigrees and some are creative and one flys airplanes and another plays piano = so you have a lot in common. In fact, one speaks so clearly and thoughtfully, you might think of him as a genius.

    However, if someone was going to cut you open and work on your heart, wouldn’t you want to understand their past performance and how it relates specifically to your needs and problems and issues. I would want know the mortality rate – how many of their patients died and how many lived for a similar procedure. What did some live and some die. What approach does your doctor take benchmarked against the others – Is he/she more successful or less succesful for comparable operations. Hiring is not any different. I could care less where the doctor got their degree if they are the number one doctor in the world in successful operations of the type I require. As an employer/recruiter, I’m more interested in what you’ve done and how it relates to what my client needs done. If you don’t put it in your resume – how am I going to figure out that you can help – other than guessing?

    The number one mistake that companies make in hiring is to not understand what results and outcomes are required. We are trying to move companies to a “tipping point” in understanding this concept. Once they get it, then the assessment is very simple – can you deliver the results needed in a role based on your comparable past accomplishments combined with your future potential (intellect/creativity/commitment/initiative and so on). However, once again, forget all the nice traits and behaviors and character issues. If you cannot first deliver comparable results = all the other items become irrelevant.

  • By James Gunselman, January 29, 2010 @ 10:01 am


    Don’t forget bizarre email addresses used by some: – goodbye – 1 second

  • By Ted, January 30, 2010 @ 6:02 pm


    Thanks a lot for the insight. This surely is the most ridiculously cramped, convoluted, and crazy hiring environment in my 25 year career.

    Unfortunately, even your minor boo-boo (3rd sentence – “I hope this article will help everyone understand how we does this” – would disqualify you using your rules. Is it fair? How did it feel? What difference does it make – job searchers just have to keep pushing out the resumes, oddly justifying your need to have a quick scan process. And so it goes.

  • By Lisa Rosser, January 31, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

    While this method clearly works for Brad, since he states that he has no problems finding excellent candidates, it serves as another example of why transitioning military service members have such a difficult time getting that “longer first look” from a typical recruiter. Unless the recruiter is educated on how to hire military and knows what to look for, many of the process steps outlined here will work against the veteran.

    1. Location: Active Duty military members are stationed around the world and are entitled to one last move on Uncle Sam’s dime when they leave the service. So, their relocation would be covered. Unfortunately, based on the process outlined in the article, if a recruiter is looking for a candidate in Dallas, he would eliminate the resume with an address of Fort Polk, Louisiana or Naval Base Rota Spain because it is not someone in the Greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

    2. Industry: We have service members with almost every background you can imagine (HR, accounting, logistics, transportation, intelligence, etc.) but their industry background is going to be defense. So, the veteran seeking employment beyond that with defense contractors is going to immediately be discarded according to this process.

    3. Level: We don’t have titles such as “VP” or “Manager” in the military. As we prepare to transition we are told to “civilian-ize” our job titles. Problem is, no one gives us a lot of help in figuring out how to do that. So, if that Army Colonel/O-6 hedges his bets and classifies himself as a “Manager” and not a “Vice President” his resume would be discarded in a search for VP-level candidates, even though an O-6 could easily do VP-level work.

    4. Education: A percentage of our enlisted members do not have a bachelor’s degree. But they have anywhere from 4-20+ years of relevant direct experience doing the work you seek. When I speak with recruiters on their veteran hiring practices I always ask about education requirements. More times than I care to discuss I am told “Oh, we just say we need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree because it is an easy way to weed out applicants”. Clearly – and to the detriment of many people, not just veterans, who have talent and relevant skills.

    5. Functional resume: this is the preferred format for veterans, as it allows them to best capture the breadth and depth of skills we have beyond the job we were trained to do. Also, if we were to go only with chronological it may appear to the untrained eye that the military member has had 4 jobs in six years (see: Turnover) .

    So, I just wanted to add my .02 to other recruiters who were thinking that this process would be a great model to follow. It clearly works – and it all but completely eliminates a military members chance of being considered. With over 200,000 skilled veterans leaving military service every year – can your company afford to dismiss/ignore this talent pool?

  • By Madhan, January 31, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Well Brad i got very good idea to source quality profiles and time consuming. i look forward some good tips from you to improve my recruitment skills. please keep posted some useful information like this. and once again i thank you for posting this useful information.

  • By vivek, January 31, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

    Great post Mr. Brad
    I have been working as a recruiter since 3 years for US market doing contract staffing, due to low turn around time for the submissions i mostly use the short keys like CTRL+F to find the relevant skills rather than reading the entire resume i would like to know your comments on using such short keys to screen the resumes.
    I would also like to know what would be the weight of University reputation in the education part

    Thanks in Advance


  • By Shyni, February 1, 2010 @ 7:37 am

    Thanks Barry….. I never had an apt Example to be provided to all those who used to pass comments on the way we Screen & reject the Profiles’.
    I will now on go ahead giving them the example of Cardiac Surgeons…!!!!! :-)
    Thanks a Tonne Barry… :-)

  • By Robert, February 2, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    After watching Up in the Air, the role of a recruiter seems very much similar to that of a termination specialist. Tell 95%+ of the candidates that their services would not be needed at company XYZ remotely. Most candidates probably assume it already having heard or thought “no” or “you can’t do that” at least 50,000 times in their life.

    I’m sure if the candidates could truly believe in “Yes, I can do that” most of them would find a niche and fill it. Then they probably reverse roles by being the employer and finding a recruiter with the very same rules once applied to them:)

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 3, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    Ted Nice try this isn’t a resume it is a blog. Big difference.

  • By Eileen, February 5, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    Brad – thanks for the great article! I am with you 100% and find that every campus recruiting season or every time we are looking for a new public accounting hire with experience, I get EVERYTHING BUT what I am looking for (indeed, that’s the nature of public accounting!). I have a job currently posted for a Business Valuation Analyst and in the line it says 3+ years Experience Required… Needless to say, I’ve gotten 15 resumes at least from those who don’t even HAVE previous experience in BV, let alone the three years! All that tells me about these candidates is that a)they can’t read, b) they can’t follow directions and/or c) they simply don’t care – and for all those reasons, they’re NOT the candidate I’m looking for. Now if we could just make the candidates undertand that they don’t impress us when they do this – they just annoy us! Oh well…

    And to Lisa Rosser, I can only speak for myself, but I always do give more time/credence to reviewing a service member’s resume. That’s because I am all about transferable skills and our firm values what we believe service members learn during their service. With that said, however, the industry I am in requires certain educational background/minimum (to become a CPA) and previous experience. The previous experience is not required if I am looking for entry level persons. So I agree with you that some employers do overlook candidates who don’t match the exact criteria – i.e. education – and that’s to the employer’s detriment…

  • By Eileen, February 5, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

    I just had to add one more comment – it seems from the other comments that people are “coming down” on Brad and frankly, Brad IS doing what he’s been hired to do. (And helping a lot of people by telling it like it is…) ALL of that Brad is hired to do – and for someone who’s been in business for 30 years, I’m willing to bet he’s been doing it right.

    And for those of you who’ve had a negative experience with a recruiter, get another one! There’s someone out there who will want to work with you and/or get you to a point where you ARE marketable to the client. You don’t have to settle when it comes to looking for a job.

    And finally, Manojt writes:

    “There are more important things to look at than a few spelling errors and missed commas. A good recruiter can read between the lines and go beyond their checklist. (Sorry for inadvertant spelling and grammatical errors.)”

    In my industry (public accounting), a few missed commas means the difference between thousands and millions of dollars for our clients and THAT’s NOT acceptable – so…NO, there isn’t anything more important on a candidate’s resume than their ability to spell-check, self-review, and oh yeah, meet all the other criteria that are required for consideration for a job. If you won’t take the time to ensure that your resume is PERFECT, then you likely won’t take the time to make sure that our client’s work is error-free. And yes, that’s a sweeping assumption, but as Brad points out, I’ve got 300 other resumes of people who DID take the time to make sure their resume was perfect.

    As my father always said, “You wanna play the game? You gotta play by the rules.”

    Thanks again, Brad for a great article and lifting the veil for candidates!

  • By GBrink, February 5, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    I have a functional resume and am not trying to hide anything. The fact that you don’t even look at this type of resume to me means that you have probably overlooked some potential “perfect fits”. In creating this type of resume I was trying to be different or I should say less common than the vast majority. If the majority of recruiters take this tact I guess I will need to start distributing my conventional resume and hope that I am noticed.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 6, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    There are many ways to stand out. The best way is to have the accomplishments that align directly with the position. I will catch those and call you.
    I don’t need anything special. I have talked to hundreds of recruiters and we all agree you don’t need anything special. Simply have the resume tailored to position.
    We want to talk to all candidates that meet the spec.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 6, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    Thanks Eileen. You are correct. Candidates can fight it but it will not change the process for me or thousands of other recruiters.
    Better to engage the process than fight it.

  • By Craig, February 7, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

    So I guess that means we need to find another recruiter who is more effective….sounds more like a dismissive screener than anything else. Many CEOs today come from different industries from those in which they worked. The same logic would apply to any knowledge worker. Understandable that the client pays and the recruiter tailors to that myopic fit. However, many skills are transferrable across industries and disciplines. Finding an employee with brains and vision is a challenge in this economy where companies are holding on to mediocrity in fear of their own potential.
    Does anyone know of recruiters that look at other factors and is not so dismissive?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 7, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    Craig. If you can find other recruiters I would encourage you to do so. However, recruiters don’t work for candidates they work for the hiring manager or the company.
    I think most candidates think we work for them. The client is the company that pays us.

  • By Judy Sicora, February 10, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    Boy, if you want to change your course or stars in life forget going to a recruiter. Between recruiters and unemployment rules one can never fathom to change course. Once a secretary always a secretary. Never try to do something new because you won’t fit. Just keep those cows in the same pen all of the time. I think it’s too bad. Very rigid.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 10, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    You are correct. Companies generally come to recruiters seeking a person with very specific experience and skills. That is what we are getting paid for.
    They rarely come to us to find someone making a career change. They can find those without paying us. That isn’t what recruiters get paid to do.

  • By Victoria Meyers, February 11, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    It would have been a good article had I spent more than 10 seconds reading it. Oh, that’s right…I’m not in HR – I’m one of the real managers who spend way more than 20 seconds of quality time to find the Best Candidate for jobs I hire. With that said…by spending more quality time in reading the article, I did find the article well articulated and has helped me identify the problems between candidates and HR/Recruiters and those who share similar view points. It also explains why thousands of us Experienced professional are still out of work. I don’t agree with the article because the one area that seems to pop out at me is…recruiters and HR professionals only seem to follow what their client or boss dictates. You’re allowing them to create the parameters to which to fill the voids. This assumes clients know what they’re looking for. Half the time, owners and top executives DON’T truly know what they’re looking for or how to better market a given position in effort to find the right candidate. What your clients and top executives are looking for are “results” – no matter how they get it. Hence, a recruiter and HR director has the job to understand the job tasks at hand and find people who deliver similar results. By doing this, you can then transfer skills, find people with more hands on experience who’ve “experienced” same problems and have already learned how to solve them and so on. I would be difficult to accept that the need to find a new CEO of General Motors would be limited to finding another CEO of other car companies…more likely, a great fit would be to find a CEO, CFO or even Executive President of General Mills who turned declining revenues to profit, who rid the company of wasteful spending and raised the quality of work environments a better fit, especially when the company stock shows the increase and vested parties of interest can attest to such candidates performance. The same concept applies to filling entry level positions, mid-management positions and executive level positions. Many responses to this article identify a “boxy” response to clients needs. We’re in 2010 and the 80% of public have been down on the corporate mind-set to rid such old/traditional ways of thinking and to look outside the box in effort to raise and improve results. Sorry, at this time, you have not convinced me that I am digging my own grave. I will continue to be a voice against the status quo. But thank you for sharing your viewpoints. I will be sharing this along with responses to many of my fellow collegues, job seekers and hiring managers.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 11, 2010 @ 3:57 pm


    Your points are well thought but in the real world don’t always work. If your boss tells you what to hire, doesn’t allow you hire the exact person you want, few will quit and most will do what the boss wants. That is why they are the boss.
    HR, recruiters get just as frustrated. Some CEO’s will listen others won’t. It isn’t my job to try and change that. Once I do my best to alter their viewpoint and HR does the same then it is time to move on. Just like you might do if you and your boss disagree on a person.
    That is the whole point of the article. Things are always different and many wouldn’t be qualified for their own job base on how they hire.

  • By Chad, February 11, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

    Obviously every position and client is different, and you can throw away the resumes that don’t match your clients job requirements. You’re talking about some of your own criteria here too though, you want to find the perfect fit after all, and every client and job has it’s own requirements, but you keep blaming your clients when you don’t know how to answer your critics.

    “I set up a hierarchy of must haves, or they’re out.”

    “I only work with people with bachelors, most of the time masters.”

  • By Eileen, February 12, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    Hmmm… I didn’t get the sense that Brad was “blaming” his clients for anything. Anyone who’s been in customer/client service understands that meeting his/her (the customers’) needs is priority – otherwise we will GO OUT OF BUSINESS.

    Rather, I sense some very bitter, unemployed people commenting on this article, and again, I will tell you – if you wanna play the game, you gotta play by the rules. I speak from experience, too, having been laid off over 8 years ago and wondering why no calls, no responses to my resumes/cover letters. And yes, I probably was bitter, too… But now that I am gainfully employed AND a recruiter, I see with a different set of eyes now WHY companies respond/don’t respond to candidates who don’t meet the criteria.

    Good, bad or indifferent as the recruiters’ processes for finding candidates may be, candidates MUST come to the understanding that is simply the way it is. And I’m certainly NOT going to risk my credibility by putting forward candidates whom even the client (in my case, these are my internal partners)can see are NOT a match for the position.

  • By Chad, February 12, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    “Here is MY process for getting through 100’s of resumes in a short period of time. Others may have different ways and I Welcome your comments. Which I will then dismiss because I’m just doing what my clients want.”

    Obviously no one can argue with you listening to your clients and job seekers need to qualify for a clients requirements.

    “After all this, 80 – 100% have been eliminated. If there are any left, then I will take the time to actually read them in detail.”

    If there aren’t any left after your screening process, don’t you have time to go back and read a few more closely? Why do you have many inadequate resumes in the first place?

  • By Platypus, February 14, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    As a hiring manager who works with internal and external recruiters, this article (and comments from other recruiters about it) cause me concern.

    I pay recruiters to find me candidates for a position based upon the criteria I provide. For more technical positions this can be very frustrating because I generally have to spend hours educating them on how developing web sites on the internet is not the same as computer networking, etc. When they can’t grasp the complexity of the skills, and which of those might be transferable from one industry to another without rejecting qualified candidates out of hand, a screening process in less than 20 seconds appears lazy. There is no other way for me to describe it.

    Even in today’s employment market, if they are reviewing hundreds of résumés for a position I am paying them for, then they are posting it in places where the masses will see it; being gatherers rather than hunters. I can gather on my own.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 14, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

    I think you missed the point. In this economy regardless of hunters or gathers a good recruiter’s job is to get the word out to as many people as possible. From there whittle it down to a number of qualified candidates based on the hiring manager criteria. That is what you the hiring manager describe to us.
    We screen accordingly and work hard to bring you the best people for your job. Not just qualified people which you can find on your own, but highly qualified people most hiring managers can’t find and rarely have the time to screen all those hundreds of resumes.

  • By Paul Thiemann, February 15, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    Provocative discussion. Disappointing, but not at all surprising. I think many will agree that recruiters are going to have to substantially change the way they work to thrive, when great candidates can easily be found on LinkedIn, etc. I’m sure many will not be able to make the transition because I have spoken to quite a few who are stuck in an “old school” mentality. It also seems to me that now more than ever there is great value in “converting” industry-specific execs over to the recruiting side. That said, there is another liable party in the broken recruiting/hiring model — the hiring managers/HR people who do not take the time to compile an accurate job description. It’s shocking how often this occurs. This has happened to me a few times – – I have had discussions where an essentially “deal breaker” requirement came up on the phone interview. Nowhere to be found on the posting, but would have saved us both a lot of time. You will always get resume spammers, but thorough job descriptions might make the process a little less painful for both sides. Good luck to everyone out there.

  • By Chad, February 15, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    Brad , sorry I guessed you missed my comments, you seem to reply to most comments. I’m just curious as to what kind of response you have.

  • By Rob Tearle, February 16, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    Bill Gates, Richard Branson would not have passed the test -even now with all their experience. My biggest recruitment mistakes were reliance on CV and not on gut instinct on meeting the person. What exceptional candidate would want to do 100% of the job they previously did? Most clients are looking for “cultural fit” – are they going to get on with them.Thats why networking – the invisible market -still dominates.

  • By Tonguc Yaman, February 16, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    in 20+ years no other has explained resume scanning as clearly as you have done in this article. I appreciate your ruthless honesty in reaching to find the right candidate.

    Thanks for the write-up.


  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    Cultural fit is critical however the reader of a resume can’t figure this out. It is not reasonable to interview people who for the reasons stated aren’t qualified.
    I do completely agree networking is the best way.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 11:01 am


    I don’t go back. If they don’t meet these very basic requirements rereading won’t change anything. If my client is not going to relocate rereading the resume isn’t going to change where the person lives. If I’m searching for a person in the medical device industry and none of the candidates have this industry rereading the resume won’t help.

    The reason for the high level of unqualified people is two fold; 1) if one posts on a job board, the job board uses key words to send resumes. So if the key word is on the resume I get it. 2) Few candidates actually read the job spec and ask if they meet the spec. They just send the resume and hope it will stick. I have tested numerous times. I have posted ads with a detailed job description and the exact same job with no description, only the title, industry, salary, and a few key words. I get the same number of responses in both cases.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    Thanks for making me aware of this. I did add a comment.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 11:05 am

    Cultural fit is critical however the reader of a resume can’t figure this out. It is not reasonable to interview people who for the reasons stated aren’t qualified.
    I do completely agree networking is the best way.

  • By Tom Staskiewicz, February 17, 2010 @ 4:15 pm


    I am not a recruiter, but I do help the unemployed. What I find interesting in many of these responses is that most of these individuals probably follow an efficiency process in their jobs. They make quick decisions and move their work forward. I guess they don’t expect others to have methods for efficiency.

    When a recruiter or hiring manager is staring at a stack of tens, if not, hundreds of resumes. It is either have a process to efficiently review or lose the client. Clients are not going to wait for the recruiter to scan every resume in detail; they just won’t. Recruiters can’t spend inordinate time either because they are working on more than one search and if they spent all that time their charges would go through the roof.

    Blaming the recruiter or hiring manager for not digging through the detail to find out whether you are a fit is unreasonable. You need to present yourself effectively and completely.

    I recommend that people not waste the readers time with wasted words. Don’t tell them about your 20 years of experience blah, blah, blah. Tell them about your accomplishments.

    Let the reader know what problems you saw, actions you took, and results you achieved. Make them salivate when they read your resume. Then provide the detail in the body that backs up the initial claims.

    Your resume should tell a story of what you have done and accomplished. Ideally it is progressive experience.

  • By T.A., February 17, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

    I’m not a recruiter, but I work for a major recruitment company in their communications division and your post sums up beautifully what I always thought…

    No wonder people hate recruiters!! Real estate agents, car-salesman and recruiters… all come from the same corner of the earth.

    Your points and my arguments:

    1. “Few if any clients want to relocate anyone in this economy, and I believe most shouldn’t have to.”

    Don’t speak for the client. If they want to relocate someone, they can. You’re not carrying the costs of the relocation, they are. I’d hate to see a recruiter throw away a perfectly good resume for someone highly competent and who I would have no problem relocating to my city just because they assumed that I wouldn’t. If the client didn’t want to spend too much money in the recruitment process, they wouldn’t hire a recruitment company.

    2. Depends on the job – some roles are industry-centric. Others are more specific to the job function.

    3. Who’s to say someone from a background other than sales won’t be good at it? Or any other job for that matter. Ask the client if they’d be willing to look at resumes from candidates from another background.

    4 & 5. Pretty much the only points in your entire article that make sense and have a valid rationale behind them.

    6. I’m sure you and many, many others have come across people will less-than-undergrad-level education who are far more intelligent than people with graduate and post-graduate degrees. I myself have a Masters degree, but I am the first to say higher education does not equal intelligence, or ability to do the job. Don’t get me wrong, higher education is something everyone should strive towards and it can do way more good than harm, but at the end of the day, if you can do your job well, no one will ask where you got your degree from. And academics has much less to do with job-competence than pure skill and aptitude.

    7. Turnover – Suspicious reasons aside, this again does not demonstrate ability to perform the job required. As a counter-point to yours, someone who’s held the same job for four years may have had nothing new to contribute to their old job and probably haven’t picked up any new skills. Granted, new recruits cost money, but if they aren’t going to be motivated enough to stay around, that says more about the company, not the individual.

    8. Some people just can’t build resumes properly. Still doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. I’d rather hire someone who knows how to do the job exceptionally well, but can’t write a resume than one who has a brilliantly crafted resume, but doesn’t perform well.

    9. See point 8. If you still can’t figure out what a person’s resume says despite all the grammatical errors and typos, you have no business being a recruiter.

    Read the resumes with respect. Every job-seeker is in a position that you were in or will be in at any point in time. When someone sends you a resume, they expect you to go through it, not to make ridiculous assumptions that probably have no impact on how they could perform in the job. Yes, everyone understands that you are limited for time, but please, spare me those excuses. Take your time, pick out the best, interview them *without* any pre-conceived ideas (that you clearly had when you were throwing out all those rejected resumes). The client will thank you for it.

    You are hired because the client doesn’t want to waste precious company time finding someone new. Not because they think you are geniuses at guessing who will be the best person for a role that you have neither observed personally, nor have ever performed.

    Understand the job, understand the client, and *understand the candidates*. Don’t treat them like dirt.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    You missed the point. The client does set these parameters. I don’t decide these the client does. I may try and guide them, make suggestions to them but they are the one that decides. If they tell me they are not going to relocate anyone, then I don’t need to waste my time with out of state resumes.

    As a retained recruiter, I am paid to screen people out that aren’t the very best fit for the job. That is what I get paid to do. If the company didn’t trust my judgment after hours of meetings to define and understand the position then they shouldn’t retain my services.

  • By Nick Gendler, February 17, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    I like this article. It illustrates very clearly the advice I offer my clients who rely on recruiters for their job transition.

    Recruiters are generally only interested in putting people back into the same industry, same job title, same place, same function, same everything as they are leaving.

    Recruiters are not a good channel for people who might be looking to move industry, or develop their career, or even, if we are to follow the advice in this article, move into a bigger job?

    Why? Because recruiters are usually asked to find someone who can “hit the ground running”. In other words, the assignment is clear: “we want someone who is doing exactly this job somewhere else – probably at one of our competitors.”

    Well done Brad for being so honest about how recruiters work.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    In many ways you are correct. Companies don’t pay recruiter 10’s of thousands of dollars to train someone. They generally want that person as you say “to hit the ground running.” That doesn’t mean a person cannot be promoted using recruiters.
    I have placed many Directors to VP level or Controllers to CFO. There are a lot of variables but in general you correct.

  • By Judy, February 17, 2010 @ 7:38 pm


    Thank you for your insights and straight-forward approach. What’s more illuminating are the comments that follow. It surprised me to read how passionate and stubborn some commenters were as they tried to refute the facts of your approach.
    Having been in the role of the hiring manager many times — and currently in the role of applicant — your guidelines resonate with me. Ironically, I think I may have the opposite tendency of filtering myself from too many postings because of my own experience and frustration identifying good candidates among too many inappropriate applicants. I suspect many candidates apply with the belief that “I can do that” or “I could learn to do that” (which they very well might), but the recruiter/hiring manager is looking for specific evidence the candidate has already done that — and done it well and consistently.
    Clearly this process doesn’t give job seekers a warm and fuzzy as they struggle to convey the depth and breadth of their unique skills and will… however, this is the VERY point why they should review your insights carefully and ensure that their resume WILL make it through the initial screen. Only then will they have a full opportunity to impress the persons who they will ultimately work with and for.
    Thanks for a refreshing reminder, and I’ll be sure to do my own “recuriter’s” check of my current resume for the next job I apply for.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 7:51 pm


    Thanks you took this in the light that it was meant. I just wanted to help candidates understand why their resumes may get screened out and what they can do to lower their frustration level.

  • By Alan Rizzo, February 17, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

    My best advice is to read your resume out loud and then have a close friend(s) read it. I am amazed at what a new pair of eyes can pick up.

    You only have 1 chance to make a good first impression

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 17, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

    Excellent advice Alan

  • By Dave, February 18, 2010 @ 12:36 am

    Process works exactly as I had guessed. I work in a technical field and hear one common issue from hiring mangers, lack of quality applicants. The fly in the ointment are the recruiters in the middle. The Hiring manager write out a list of requirements. List is passed thru management to HR and finally out to recruiters. Of course they each “polish it up a bit ”. So “Application Engineer” is now “Programmer Analyst“ then the business side changes it to “Business Analyst Developer“. Then the recruiter takes 20 seconds to see that the Programmers applying do not fit. This has happened many times.

    My first questions to a recruiter are always to verify how well they understand the requirements. Around 10% really understand what they are looking for. After awhile they admit they do not know what the job really entails or get mad and end the conversation. The best part is when they start asking me about the job requirements. Not kidding I felt sorry for them. Great people trying to do a good job with not enough information. Twenty seconds screening a resume, maybe if you had experience in the position they are looking to fill. Do yourself a favor those “hours” spent in meetings on requirements. Spend some of that time with the actual manager over the position.

  • By Robert, February 18, 2010 @ 2:21 am

    The only thing ‘worse’ than the 10-second resume read is the 1-hour web-based application process that ‘doesn’t know’ that 20+ years in UNIX is AT LEAST as good as 3 years in AIX (because they don’t ask about related experience). (This is especially true, and frustrating, since AIX was derived from UNIX.) The applicant only arrives at this 1-second decision AFTER the arduous task of filling in the dozens of boxes over several web pages by cutting/pasting from their resume after the resume is uploaded. There is usually a reason I apply for a position: I think I can actually perform…

  • By Nadinka, February 18, 2010 @ 3:01 am

    Well. That article is a little scared for persons who just got out from the University. Maybe it addressed only to experienced candidates? I was graduated last year and I’m still looking for a job. Ok I agree with some criteria that are correct. But otherwise it means that graduated with Masters degree and high motivation that want to entry a company as an Assistant or Secretary will be automatically rejected because his background does not correspond to secretary work/experience. So we have no chance it seems.:(

  • By Su Corkeron, February 18, 2010 @ 5:26 am

    Thanks for this article Brad,

    I think it is important for all candidates to realise the purpose of a CV. The sole purpose of a CV is to be a marketing tool to get the recipent’s attention. An advertisement!

    Think of TV advertisements; short, sharp and attention grabbing in about 20-30 seconds… if relevant to you and takes your attention, you then look for more information… in the case of the CV, the recipient then continues reading in more depth and may select you for interview.

    This doesn’t mean having bright colours and automated pictures on your CV, rather start your CV with snapshot (bullet points) of your relevant experience for each job. Taking the time to tailor your CV for each application is more effective that ‘spraying’ a generic one. This works wonders… short, sharp and attention grabbing!

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    You got it that is what a resume is, simply a marketing tool.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 12:01 pm


    You are correct this is for experienced people. Rarely will a company use recruiters for recent grads. They don’t need to pay us to do that. They go directly to the schools. After you get 3 years experience then this will be relevant to you.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

    If anybody understand please interpret for me in English.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

    Dave re-read the article if you did in the first place. Few of these screening issues dealt with the person’s ability to do the job. Most deal with fit. The basic box checking that as a recruiter must be there before even contacting the person.
    Every job has these. You are in a technical area, that doesn’t mean you are qualified for every technical job posted.

  • By Bill Withers, February 18, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

    I have been a line manager for many years, and have recently taken responsibility for recruiting at my company. I have the good luck of having professional recruiters working for me and teaching me.

    While it is our practice to source people without advertising, it is often necessary to post and then receive hundreds of responses. We need to screen these quickly, and I know that in the process we miss some good people.

    My recommendation for job seekers (which I have followed myself in the past) is to understand that job hunting is a sales job and that you are sending a proposal to each potential customer.

    Take the time to understand the company and the role – there is a lot of information online. Customize or even rewrite your resume so that it passes the screen that Brad describes for that particular company and role. If you are transferring skills, mention the target skills in your resume in an honest way so that computer screening won’t kick you out and so that you may catch the eye of a recruiter who has been given some flexibility.

    It is a lot of work, so target your efforts on roles you really want in companies you are excited about.

    This is one of the more informative discussions I have followed for some time. Thanks, all.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    Bill thanks for this.

    I hope people will read this comment. It is dead on and not from a third party recruiter but from a person inside doing the hiring.

    I encourage all candidates to grasp the importance of what Bill is saying.

  • By James, February 18, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

    You have given an excellent example of the short-sightedness that is so prevalent in the “corporate world”. You just cut out a good chunk of the top ten percent. Think of the game changers that don’t even have a bachelors degree, or were huge influeners in a specific marketplace 10 years ago, but spent time away in another space.

    Your 80/20 rule will make you safe as a recruiter; but, safe isn’t hitting a home run or finding a diamond in the rough.

    This gets you a C+ to A- grade everytime with some A+’s. Which keeps employed. If we all shot for that zone, we’de still use horses as transportation, rock tablet and chisel for communicating, and think the earth was still the center of the solar system.

    It’s risk vs. reward.

  • By Bill, February 18, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    You have also helped reinforce why you must network into the top level and/or true decision makers vs. letting a piece of paper, submitted to gatekeeper, represent your true character, energies, and abilities.

  • By Jay, February 18, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    good laughs. but why recruiters often poor investment .. anyone can scan for keywords, be okay with fiction. we want more than 10 second judgement from text. think like NBA or NFL scout!

  • By Brent, February 18, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    A resume is no measure of talent and with some research is fakeable. Quite useless really, but I’m glad you have found an efficient way of scanning low utility information.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 18, 2010 @ 11:14 pm


    Like so many you didn’t really read the article. I never once said in the article it was a measure of talent.
    I just said if you live out of state and my client will not relocate I can’t help you.

  • By Dave, February 18, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

    I did read the FULL article, very carefully. You could say I am a “student” when it comes to these. I get complements on my resume. One question I always ask the recruiter is what they think of my resume. All RELEVENT keywords I can find. No fluff and to the point.

    You missed my point. The recruiters are the ones that first pointed out I had no experience as an “Analyst”, because that’s what their piece of paper called for. When I point out the skills and qualifications are for a Programmer/Coder/ Developer position usually they ask me why. Perfect chance to educate them, we all can learn new things everyday. No matter how good you may be at your job. Then talking to the hiring manager they agree the requirements get changed by the process. But I get “thrown out” more often than called. Just got a call today for a position I was up for. They scanned my resume, said I did not qualify. Now they want me. I was more than qualified but they missed me, I will not leave in middle of a project.

    There is constant, if you are comfortable in your job and think you have it all figured out. It’s time for a change. Else one of these days you will realize you have been passed by others. And then you will be talking to recruiters, not by your own choice.

  • By Chet, February 19, 2010 @ 8:23 am

    Brad, I know this article is about resumes, but isn’t the cover letter the appropriate document to tailor to specific jobs rather than the resume? I was taught that the resume is a generic record of one’s achievements, experience, education and training – we are who we are – but the cover letter is the eye-catcher that matches up specific credentials to posted job requirements. A person has one resume, but ten different cover letters to apply for ten different jobs. Is this no longer true? Isn’t the cover letter the first document that the recruiter sees and uses to decide if it is worth looking at the resume or CV for more complete information? We are always advised to write a cover letter. When does the cover letter come into play?

  • By Jonathan, February 19, 2010 @ 1:43 pm


    Thank you for your comment. In my opinion, you understand the human side to the entire recruitment process. A resume cannot possibly give you the full picture on the candidate. By following this silly 20 sec lazy rule, many good candidates may be lost. As a Sales Director,is refreshing to come across recruiters like you.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 19, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    Chet. I don’t know when you were taught this but I’m guessing it was along time ago. As that is the way it used to be. Read the article on our blog COVER LETTERS ARE WORTHLESS AND OUTDATED. It addresses your specific point.
    A cover letter never a substitution for a resume and a resume should never be generic.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 19, 2010 @ 4:01 pm


    Wrong assumption. I dont’ care if there are many good candidates living in NY if my client is in CA and will not talk to someone out of state. I care only about the great candidates in CA. That is what my client is paying to do. They are paying me to find a local candidate and not have to pay relocation.
    They don’t need me to find them good candidates anywhere on the planet. There maybe good candidates in China should I look at those too. What about Russia, India, it doesn’t make any sense.
    Why would I tell my client that lives in one of the biggest cities in the country that he should pay up 50K to relocate someone when there are great candidates in this area. I’m not doing the client a service if I don’t find local candidates.
    In fact the easy way out would be to try and get the client to relocate. Then I don’t have do spend a lot of time and money trying to find a local candidate.

  • By Jonathan, February 19, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

    Good comments: “…and this is why, when I see a job advertisement by a recruiter, I toss it and say “goodbye”
    “A resume cannot possibly give you the full picture on the candidate. By following this silly 20 sec lazy rule, many good candidates may be lost”

    I have been recruited before, but never successfully by a contingency firm. In fact, that is the first question I ask when they call me. They quickly go into the “B” pile.

    Contingency firms are more like cattle herders, and are looking for a quick buck; volume over quality. A retained firm is seeking “the best,” whether they live across the street or across the country, and take the time.

    As a hiring manager, I look for talent, and that takes more than 20 seconds, unless the applicant is a sheep herder and I’m looking for a blacksmith.

    Frankly, if a company is hiring locally, with a stringent job description, why hire you? An internal HR dept can do exactly what you do simply by placing the posting on their site… and ruling people out, which is precisely what you’re doing, but only charging the client a pretty penny for it.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 19, 2010 @ 4:52 pm


    You have it completely backwards. We are exclusively retained. HR can’t do what we do because they can’t find the candidates or they would not retain us. In fact the easy way out is to try and get my client to relocate. That would reduce my time searching and cost me a whole lot less. It is the easy way out.

    You are also wrongly assuming I don’t have great local candidates. Only a lazy recruiter would ask their client to pay tens of thousands of dollars to relocate someone when there are great local candidates. They are too lazy to go out and find.

    By the way, where do I stop searching for a candidate to relocate. Should I consider NY, what about China, India, the complete planet. After all I’m sure there are good candidates there. Should I spend time reading their resume too?

  • By Bev Robinson, February 19, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

    I am so glad I never met you in my 30 plus years in IT. I told one manager that wanted me to move about 600 miles from my home to hire people from the city he wanted me to move to. I said they do not need to know insurance, they need to know how to code. He came back and I was the first person he asked to speak with. He thanked me and said his new employees were working out great. I rated myself in the top 5% of programmers due to the raises I got (of course being a female I probably started a lot lower than the men. I was programming & operations manager at
    one location but never but it on my resume as men would get scared of it and I wanted to work & program.
    You are passing up good candidates with your routine checking, you are in a hole and do not know how to get out of it. Recent expierience,
    well I have been away from it for ten years and I know I could program circles around some of the young guys. I did it before and I could do it again. If you truly want to get the best person then
    people from any location should be looked at. You just do not want to do a job that you do not really like do you?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 19, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

    Bev: You are wrong on two points.
    1) I don’t make the rules. The client makes the rules.
    2) So should I look at great programmers in India and China. Maybe I should ask my client to fly to India and interview some great people.

    Where does the relocation issue stop.

  • By Jonathan, February 19, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    Brad, then I’m going to give you a time saver. Put a big red sign on all of your clients’ listings:
    You’re welcome.

  • By Mark, February 19, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

    “Ted Nice try this isn’t a resume it is a blog. Big difference.”

    Yes – by using bad grammar on your blog you’re making bad grammar part of your personal brand in public.

    “If my client is not going to relocate rereading the resume isn’t going to change where the person lives.”

    No applicant in his or her right mind is going to expect your *client* to relocate to where he or she lives! Meanwhile, many applicants may already have plans to relocate to where your clients are.

    For one example, a UNIX and AIX programmer in New York whose husband already has a job offer in Chicago and already plans to move to Chicago may be looking for a new job in Chicago in order to stay employed after leaving New York. She would certainly not be asking your client in Chicago to relocate to New York. She would not even be asking your client to cover the expenses of her moving to Chicago.

    For another example, as Lisa Rosser reminded us, an Army Colonel/O-6 stationed in Germany may be apply to a civilian job in Dallas to return to living near his extended family after completing his military service. He certainly would not expect your client in Dallas to relocate to Germany. He would not even be asking your client to cover the expenses of moving to Dallas, because his relocation expenses will be covered by the military.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 19, 2010 @ 11:17 pm


    When appropriate I do that. It doesn’t matter people still apply.

    Here is my question for you. Why should my client consider paying relocation in the thousands of dollars, when I have many highly qualified candidates that don’t require relocation?

  • By Rao Dronamraju, February 20, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    OK, let all the non-HR folks layoff all the HR folks and when they send in their resumes give them the 10 secs they deserve. This goes for a lot of hiring managers too not just HR.
    The biggest problem is most people do not put themselves in others’ shoes when they live. They are primarily interested in themselves. That is why you see such a unconcerned attitude towards others. It only proves that such folks are very narrow minded and self centered individuals.

  • By Steven Paul, February 21, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    Excuse me. Used Car salesmen, not care.


  • By Jon, February 22, 2010 @ 2:48 am


    But wait:

    “Download a sample cover letter proven to work with recruiters and get your resume noticed. CLICK HERE to download yours. Over 2,000 people have done this.”

  • By Frank, February 22, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

    Wow, a very enlightening post and comments. Thank you all. Many great points and counters. Our company is hiring. We are looking for talented people. We have 9 times out of 10 been disappointed with recruitment companies. It is not the recruitment companies fault! The system is broken. With key word searches, 10 sec filtering, poor job descriptions, assumptions and a host of other communication blunders, the company hiring the recruitment company is at fault, our company has to own the disappointment we have realized. We have missed great people, by putting onerous criteria in the equation, used as filters by the recruiting companies we then hire. HOW do we find the DOERs? The people that DELIVER, people with INTEGRITY? I think we should look less at what people have done and more at what motivates and inspires them. I want to hire people that are inspired and motivate. Our company offers the opportunity and support, sharing a common goal… To deliver results!

  • By Chris, February 22, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    I once had my boss call me in and point out that our recruiter had given him my resume (culled from my web site, best as I can tell…) for a job in my own group. It was nice to know that they recruiter thought I was qualified for my own job. It would’ve been nice if the guy’d spent 20s noticing that I was already working for the company he was recruiting for.

    Having said that, Brad is right. You can bitch and moan about how unfair it is, but in short, too bad. You might as well go out and yell at the sun for rising every day. Or you start up a recruiting firm that does it better if you think you actually can do better and get rich…

    And having said that, if you’re relying on a recruiter to notice you, you’re screwed already anyway. If you’re not finding out about open jobs from friends and colleagues, you’re just one of the faces masses from which 99.999% will get rejected. It is all about networking networking networking.

  • By Debbie, February 22, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

    Wow this is quite the entertaining discussion. Clearly Brad’s attempt to help others went unappreciated by some of you. I don’t understand some of the mean-spirited comments. Whether you agree with Brad’s screening methods or not–this is the reality of how the recruiting process often works and it is not likely going to change overnight–especially in this job market. Recruiters, hiring managers and HR staffing professionals all have different methods for finding the right candidates and are motivated to find the best talent out there as quickly and with the least cost as possible. Most recruiters/hiring managers/HR staff use some (if not all) of Brad’s screening methods. There is only so much time in the day to screen resumes–that is only part of the recruiting process.

    We have a small HR department and I have hired recruiters many times to help my company find candidates because my staff and I don’t always have the time to find them ourselves–and with success. I understand the need for 20-second screenings. It’s a necessity or nothing else gets done.

    I’ve given similar resume advice to participants of job workshops I’ve co-conducted with other HR professionals for my church. Many participants have found employment because they followed our counsel. We were just hoping our experience helped other people.

    Don’t mean to speak for you Brad (and I don’t know you personally) but it seems to me that you were also simply trying to help people who are looking to either find or upgrade employment.

    Good luck job seekers!!

  • By The Easy, February 22, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    Here are some rules that you forgot.

    Want to turn your Job search into a Kenyan Lottery? Send your resume to a job bank first.

    I’ll explain why I feel this way.

    If I am looking at a sales job, I first find the hiring manager.

    If you are in sales and you can’t find the decision-maker…. Guess what? You’re done.

    No job description adequately describes the job-territory-strategy-product(s)-desires or needs of the hiring manager.


    No recruiter or HR associate has been able to articulate what the hiring manager exactly wants and needs from a future employee before I actually talked to them, ever.

    Why? Because my experience has shown me that many recruiters are recruiters and not seasoned salesmen in the industry they are doing the search in. Same always goes for HR. HR hires HR.

    Looking for a job is sales 101.

    You are selling yourself.

    Rule number one in sales…

    Get to the decision-maker. Do not pass go. No decision maker… no sale.

    Rule number two…

    Qualify: If you can’t find out from decision maker their needs directly, Don’t waste your time.

    You really need to find out the real hiring manager’s needs…

    Allow me to illustrate:

    Middleman: “I am looking for someone in LA”

    You: “Really, I got a phone book, let’s find some people.”

    That’s like someone saying I have a friend that needs a vehicle in LA. Really? Is that a limo? rental? new? used?, bus? truck? (I think you get the picture)

    Rule 3:

    Fulfill the needs of the decision maker.

    Rule 4:

    Close.. Ask for the job, after you have established that the decision maker’s needs are met. NOT After the HR rep or recruiter’s needs are met.

    I wouldn’t send out a resume on the fly no sooner then I would send out a proposal with pricing on the fly.

    Even if my best friend said his Dad wanted a product I sold, I would talk to Pops first before I sent a proposal off with junior.

    If you don’t talk to the decision maker then send your resume to a non hiring person perhaps it should just say; “Look forward to doing business with you soon, now send me a check” That takes less that 2 seconds to read.

    My experience has shown that the middlemen, I have known don’t even have the authority to accept a collect call at desk of the decision maker.

    Real Salesmen/Consultants talk to the decision maker first or they move on.


    For you non salespeople out there.

    If you are not in sales and your looking for a job… Guess what? You’re in sales. Selling your talents, fulfilling the “decision-maker’s” needs, and closing.

    When I am on the phone with the hiring manager I’ll know in 3 minutes if I am good fit or not.

    At anytime I know 4 or 5 people in my industry that are a good fit, if I am not. Why? Because I actually work in that industry that I am applying in. So, it’s always a win-win for the hiring manager when I get them on the phone first.

    Remember this.

    Anyone who is not the hiring manager can read a resume in 5 seconds.

    We have a term for it in sales… It’s called: Mail for the Pail.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 22, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    Chris you are correct. First off recruiters only work on less than 10% of all job openings. We are small piece of the pit. Networking is absolutely the best way to find a job.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 22, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

    Frank You are correct. But I have to start screening some place. Most of the negative comments the people are shooting the messenger. I work for a client. As a retained recruiter I spend a lot of time up front with the client. These are the no-brainer kinds of things I have to use to get the pile of resume manageable. I don’t decide these the client does. They are retaining me to do a job for them.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 22, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    You should read the complete article.

  • By Edia Stanford-Bruce, February 24, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    …and this is why I am learning to network, steer well clear of recruiters and forget job boards. I’ll just take all my “red flags” and make a beautiful dress out of them.

  • By Jon Kerr, February 24, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    What does this tell me? By all means use a recruiter to screen but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use your own networks to source candidates as well. Then compare the candidates you can find to those the recruiter gets for you and make the decision yourself.
    Recruiters run a sales game – get as many candidates in as possible that provide the closest fit to the clients needs…and do it as quickly as possible…then present to the client. That’s why they have to run through resumes so quickly.
    Unfortunately, this can mean that you don’t even get to see people who could be fantastic for your organisation – someone who may have a fantastic cultural fit and related skills but not in your industry can still be a very worthwhwile asset.
    If you are able to compare candidates then you run less risk of missing a great one.

  • By Mitchina, February 24, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

    Holy Cow! With all this “controversy” in how this is done, should be done and what is really done… it’s a wonder ANY recruiter finds ANYONE even remotely suitable for whatever their clients’ criteria is. 80 – 100% kick out rate?

    How about from now on, all job posting MUST be required to explain exactly what kind of resume they are looking for. And let’s all agree to get rid of “bilingual preferred” and just say it out right. Bilingual will be considered first.

    It is as much the fault of the employer/recruiter as it is the candidate for know knowing or being able to express what they want or are offering.

    Maybe recruiters should take a personal approach to this, get to KNOW their candidates by interviewing them in person if they are local, over the phone if not. More than the usual once over about a specific job applied for. Interview them several times. Find out for yourself what they are capable of and THEN you will know what you have in your vault to offer to your clients. Now THERE’S a novel idea. Conducting business a NEW way. Maybe it’s time for this industry to undergo a real fundamental change as well… we then might actually have some hope then.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 24, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

    You suggestions about getting to know the person on a personal approach is well thought but not practical. For example, I can receive up to 1000 resumes per search. Based on your recommendation I should meet or phone interview all of them? Consider the math. If half are local which requires at least an hour of time that is 500 hours of interviewing plus commute time. The other 500 require a phone interview which may last 30 minutes. That is another 250 hours of time. Not doable.

    The interview is to decide fit and personality. The resume is for screening. There has to be a process to eliminate the lesser qualified from the more qualified. That is mine.

  • By Mitchina, February 24, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    I see. Quantity over quality. Why is it the chic and nounvel age marketing approached can take over the entire concept of the coffee industry but not something that would have potential in a massively beneficial way for everyone – even those who do not drink coffee 😉

    If recruiters treated their candidates as if they were clients it would probably work better since MOST of the upper echelon of the business class has probably been there so long that they are out of touch with the process or prospects, especially in this volatile landscape. I still think this idea would work better – assigning certain recruiters to specific talents or areas of expertise and managing your candidates instead of your clients. Of course this would be a very high end recruiting firm and one would think that if a company was hiring for management positions or higher, they would go to the best recruiter that held the best talent.. not hire a hamster on a wheel. You (recruiters) are just entrenched in your ways of thinking because at one point this worked well when America actually MADE products and markets we well defined. This fresh perspective on renovation this industry is precisely why I would be a better candidate for a position but you would never see it from my resume… I would be a full fledged “kicked out” member. How would you EVER see than on a resume in these times of unemployment and desperation for an income to survive? You (recruiters) wouldn’t. And FYI… you haven’t as apparent by my status quote of being unemployed.

  • By sajith marakar, February 25, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    All these 9 checks in 20 secs average?? I am sure that you would have lost lot of good candidates in the process! Ultimately the HR manager or the recruiter is the looser if they don't pick up the correct person for the correct job!

  • By pamelapjura, February 25, 2010 @ 7:47 pm


    I enjoyed reading your article. I have one question that you may be able to answer. My entire backgound is Wall Street – Financial Services. Wall Street always has layoffs and I've been downsided numerous times and never before this go around have had a hard time finding a new position.

    How does one explain other than the cover letter the obvious the Wall Street has laid me off several times. One recuriter had no item who Merrill Lynch was and that they laid off 20000 in 2002. If anyone posting to this article has any suggestions too, they are more than welcome.

  • By Barry Deutsch, February 25, 2010 @ 11:34 pm


    One way to “explain” your layoffs is to indicate the reason for each job change in your resume as a short sentence at the end of your general description of either the role or what the company does. By “putting it out there” you will not have recruiters or hiring managers trying guess what's going with your job changes.

  • By Barry Deutsch, February 25, 2010 @ 11:37 pm


    That's the way it's done in most companies. Since so many resumes come in that are way off the mark, employers and recruiters must be able to move through the stack quickly. Otherwise, it would be months before they finished reviewing resumes for one job. I agree that sometimes the rare candidate get's arbitrarily excluded or ignored – but this is more the exception than the rule.

  • By Barry Deutsch, February 25, 2010 @ 11:40 pm


    You would need to provide overwhelming evidence that your accomplishments, outcomes, results, and achievements offset the lack of a degree by a significant margin. Employers are arbitrarily including an advanced degree in their job specs since they're not sure how to really define performance. They believe that there is a direct correlation between having gone to graduate school and the ability to perform in the job. In most cases, this is simply not true. In some cases, the additional learning is required for success – such as engineering or architecture, or advanced systems design. However, for most general business roles – it's not required and you have the opportunity to prove your accomplishments outweigh the requirement for a degree.

  • By pamelapjura, February 26, 2010 @ 12:21 am


    Thank you very much for your suggestion. It is smart idea, no one has suggested this to me in the past.


  • By howardleyda, February 26, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    Thank you for the advice.

    I am often dumbfounded when I do not get at least an screening interview for a positions which I am clearly qualified. I guess it teaches me that I should have put my education before everything else that was going on in my life at the time.

  • By sarabradley, February 26, 2010 @ 4:47 am

    I've been recruiting for 20+ years. I would echo every one of Brad's thoughts on being able to scan a resume in 20 seconds and find the 5 to 10 key points.

    Brad didn't mention cover letters. Many recruiters only read the cover letters after the resume passes muster.

    I can't stress enough to job seekers that functional resumes are bad. Whatever you are trying to mask, and you are trying to mask something, you should just address it head on. It might still be a no, but at least isn't the automatic no you will get with a functional resume.

    Thank you for the article Brad! I will refer candidates to it.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 26, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    Thanks for the comment.

    I wish more candidates would do as you say. Functional resumes are worthless at least for recruiters. I have not met one yet that reads them.

    I wrote this to help candidates understand better how recruiters work so they don’t get so frustrated.

  • By Rick MacDonald, February 26, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    I understand from the standpoint of a recruiter you need to quickly get to the requirements your client has given you. For the rest of the world there are times when a solid functional resume can be a better sales tool than a chronological. If it highlights real accomplishments and results and not fluff.

  • By Arnaud Laval, March 2, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    Nothing new, still I’ll go along Peter Szymonik note:” If all you’re looking for is the square box to fit a square hole – guess what…”

    I don’t say it the recruiter’s fault, still you are involved in the process and have your share of the status quo.

    No surprise there high turn over, people lacks imagination, aren’t committed to their job nor the companies…

    Funny thing the most talented people I worked with done many different jobs in lots of companies holding various positions and the worst one perfectly fits your process.

  • By Rikki Leigh, March 2, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    While I respect that executive recruiters have a job to do and likely a client to satisfy I find many of the points made to be disrespectful and discouraging. I possess the experience, the education, and career progression which solidify the skills I have to offer (BA, MS, and Industry Cert). On the one hand recruiters want clear, concise, and bulleted skills that they can pull out at-a-glance, yet according to what I’ve read make snap judgments and assumptions. Rather than inquiring why I lived in those locations and why I’ve averaged 2-3 years at a location, or why I live in one state and am inquiring about employment in yours, I’m immediately discarded?

    As the spouse of a career military professional, we go where the military says we go and it is often other spouses like myself who sacrifice career progression; never have the chance to be fully vested in retirement; are frequently on “probation”; have little or no paid-time-off; or worse we are overlooked, undervalued, and “discarded”. While I’ve read that “functional format” isn’t the way to go according this article tell me this:
    1. How then are individuals like me to portray the value that I bring to the table and potential investment I have to make in your organization, when your recruiters don’t recognize it when they see it?
    2. Is this an isolated industry norm for “Executive Recruiters” only or do other internal hiring managers adopt the same practice?

    Sometimes you have to read the jacket on the book and not just discard it because you don’t like the picture on the front.

  • By Ardith, March 5, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    You obviously believe that you’re doing your clients a great service, but you so very wrong. What you’re really doing is taking the expedient and supposedly cannot fail approach. I’m very thankful I’ve not worked with recruiters like you…either as a hiring manager or as a candidate.

    The best people I’ve ever hired would not have qualified if I’d had you filtering the candidates. Worse yet, your inability to truly discern their capabilities would likely mean I’d have ended up with teams devoid of creativity, cross-industry insights, and perhaps even common sense.

    Taking issue with spelling and grammar is one thing (and even then in some industries and for some positions it may not be crucial to the demands of the job). But only considering candidates who meet limited criteria and sans consideration of complementary skills sets and attributes; all of time, regardless of industry, is akin to supporting inbreeding. It’s ludicrous, shallow, and wasteful.

    If that is all recruiters like you do, what do we really need you for? Why not simply use software with specific algorithms instead. It would be much cheaper and about as valuable.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 5, 2010 @ 6:48 pm


    Of the many people you hired, if that is true, I find it incredible to believe that you didn’t have a way of screening the resumes. As it is not uncommon to receive 100+ resumes. You seem to want me to believe that for every job opening you filled, you interviewed every person that sent you a resume. Regardless, of what was on the their resume. After all it would be “wrong” and just “expedient” for you to screen resumes on any random criteria such as experience or years of experience. I’m sure you interviewed all candidates even if they required complete relocation costing up to $50,000.
    You want everyone to believe you didn’t screen out any resumes. I find that hard to comprehend. Why send you a resume? What is the purpose of a resume if not to screen candidates based on an established criteria.

  • By rick, March 10, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    Thanks for the interesting discussion and insightful comments. What continually resonated for me Brad, and this is based on my past experience as a recruiter was that my clients paid me to find the right person. “Right” was defined after an in-depth and probative discussion: Client: we want someone with 10 years experience with x Me: if they had 9 would you still be interested? Negotiating every point – then concluding with a ‘knock-out’ question – what question do you want asked and what answer must they have. My team an I did not solicit resumes, rather we sought out the candidate by a working through a referral network. The service we provided was to find, not screen candidates.
    When someone asks for a resume on a candidate, I ask them if they have a pen and paper – then ask what do they want to know. There a likely three maybe only two key things that are essential (this presumes we’ve done our work and are talking about a qualified candidate. Up thread, the Easy pointed out the essence of this process is sales – some of y’all might not be comfortable in that role – but it beats the discomfort of the alternative. Hope everyone finds the job of their dreams!

  • By Gary, March 18, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Well, I think this article was a valiant effort to defend stereotyping as how some recruiters work through resumes. I must say I now better understand why companies too often end up hiring the person they are looking for instead of the right person for the job. It all starts with the recruiter’s 20 second resume review using a set of attitudes that are, at best, short sighted and narrow.

    For example, in this economy, according to the article, businesses should not need to relocate someone because there are enough good people nearby. I would fire any recruiter who advised me of this hiring sterotype. In this economy, exactly the opposite is true. This is the absolute best time to get the best person for the job REGARDLESS of where he or she is located. There are extremely talented people I now have a chance to hire that I could never have gotten to move before.

    I know a vice president who was willing to relocate at his own expense, was the favored candidate for a job, and was ultimately turned down because the company feared he could not sell his current house. Perfect person for the job did not get to help that company because of a sterotype and an irrational fear.

    Similarly, the idea that you would never hire a manager to be a vice president or the opposite is ridiculously disrespectful to the individual and glorifies title over talent. I know many, many vice presidents that I would not hire to be vice presidents, and countless managers who could knock the job out of the park. People should be judged on their merits, and while it may inconvenience the recruiter to actually have to read resumes, I thought that was his job.

    I have never heard so many juicy rationalizations that have so little true value in all my life. If recruiters started thinking instead of judging, many more companies would be using them to find talent instead of to evaluate resume and hiring cliches.

  • By Akshat, March 19, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    Brad, I worked hard to produce a functional resume that I felt highlights my skills in the most effective manner, and now it seems that recruiters won’t even look at it,even though I have absolutely nothing to hide. Question for you Brad – What if I mention the precise chronology of all the positions held, but structure the rest of the resume as a functional resume?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 20, 2010 @ 7:10 am


    Just so you know, I have spoken to literally thousands of recruiters and hiring authorities in my 30 years, I can’t think of one that liked the functional resume. So it isn’t just me. It is the vast majority of people.

    Regarding your question. For me the problem is I don’t know where and when the points on a functional resume happened. What company you were working for at the time? What position you held when the accomplishment you state occurred?
    There just is so much information I need to help you that the functional resume either doesn’t address or is too vague for me to help you.

    Finally, why are you using one? If people don’t want them, why fight it? I encourage you to switch to a chronological style.

  • By Akshat, March 20, 2010 @ 9:26 pm


    Thank you very much for your feedback. It was very helpful. If you don’t mind, I just one more question:
    What if I have been in the same company for my entire career so far, but have held different, progressively increasing positions ranging from trainee engineer to Senior manager? A chronological resume would obligate me to mention at least a couple of points under “trainee engineer”, even though my work as a Senior manager was much more important, and more relevant to the position I’m applying for. I just thought that the functional resume was a more effective way to utilize space on my resume. Would you still recommend a chronological resume, given this?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 21, 2010 @ 6:21 pm


    There are a lot of variables that are needed on a chronological resume. A really good resume can make a dramatic in your job search.
    I suggest taking a look at our our Complete Resume System. It will answer all your questions and even more important it will teach you how to build a great resume. This way you won’t ever have to go thru this again. Here is the link. At least read about before you decide.
    We are also offering numerous additional free downloads on this special.
    If you decide to get it and you have any questions then contact me and I will help you.

  • By Rebecca Martin, March 25, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    Hi Brad, I really like your style and love your comments about reading a resume. I have been a former recruiter and I am now a career coach. Keep up the great work. I would love to send you a free copy of my recruiter booklet. Where should I send it. What is your email?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 25, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    Thanks Rebecca I appreciate the nice comment. You can send it to me at brad at Replace the word at with @.

  • By S Mishra, March 25, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    During my service of over 19 years, I have acquired a wide and rich experience in HR, Administration & Air Transport Operations. An achiever and hands on professional who loves to take initiative and gets things done, I can relate with employees, am good at human relations and lead by example. These people skill are strongly backed by my endeavour to always keep my knowledge and qualifications in HR, Law, Aviation Management etc updated.

    While in the IAF I had the priviledge to lead and motivate personnel during air transport missions / operations as well as contribute to Organizational Development in various roles as pilot, trainer and Administrator. For most of my career I flew various types of twin/ single engine aircraft with over 2900 accident free hours. Also, I have been a Gliding Instructor having flown over 1200 sorties. After attaining the senior rank of Wing Commander in the IAF, I decided to spread my wings in the corporate world.

    I prepared my resume with utmost honesty, leaving minor details and achievements. However, due to the nature duties and functions in light of multitasking in military, I could not make it Chronological. However, after reading the article by Brad, I am having second thoughts about the appropriateness of my resume.

    Please advise

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 26, 2010 @ 6:55 am

    S Mishra
    I have worked with thousands of candidates and they all say they same thing, because they don’t know how to do chronological. Then we sit down and put one together.

    Give a a shot. I think you will be able to do it.

  • By Ronald, March 31, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    Greetings Mr. Remillard:

    I do not under stand why you and other recruiters insist that a functional resume is an effort at hiding something. Pleas explain. I have nothing to hide and have been using a functional resume for 25 years. I am an intelligence analyst by trade and hope to be right up until the day they plant me in the ground. A functional resume high lights my skill set which is what an employer is looking for in an intelligence analyst.

    To use a chronological resume would simply be repeating the same skill set over and over with some overlap between positions. Over the years I have used the same skills and added new ones and dropped other skill sets only to pick them up again years later (position dependent). Why does it matter when and where I used a specific skill as long as I used that skill? Note: I have been in the IT industry my entire career.

    A Functional resume allows me to split my skill set in to the three main areas of collection, analysis and application. Followed by my list of employers chronologically with the word intelligence included in every position title. And all on one page no less. Concise, brief and to the point.

    Employers have commented: “I like it, everything I need to know is all right here in less than one page.”

    Guess I am just perplexed at the bias against functional resumes. Where as every chronological resume just seems to be a jumble of words and paragraphs dragging on across multiple pages. By training I write a paragraph where most folks write a page or even more.

    BTW – great article – “concise, brief and to the point”.

    Best Regards,


  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 31, 2010 @ 7:45 am

    You maybe the exception to the rule. A functional resume doesn’t provide the reader with where and when the accomplishments occurred. They don’t help the reader with any understanding if all these were done in one company or 20 years and you haven’t done anything since. Most are too vague and general. They provide a good overview of the candidates but generally lack the detail I want to know as a recruiter.

  • By A.Lizard, March 31, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    If your client is looking for “shoe size” matches and you are actually reading resumes to discover them instead of getting keyword-selected matches which already fit the requested criteria, you’re telling me that you are no more competent than the people you’re dumping.

  • By Erlinda, April 3, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    What a relieve that it is a controversial discussion. Thanks a lot you all for sharing your thoughts. It gives me hope that I will find someone able to understand transferable skills, and the international market. Someone who can understand diversity as it is. Not just the percent black, white, yellow and blue to fill out paper work. By the way, what is up with looking at pictures to eliminate candidates? What is up with the legal rights in the land of opportunities?

  • By Edward, April 6, 2010 @ 4:24 am

    Please don’t take this as a personal criticism but my experience says the job of recruiter as described here will go the way of the dinosaur. I see very little value add and the rigid initial screening process is perfectly suited to automation. Likewise, the tailoring of resumes for specific job descriptions could also use some automation. At the 80/20 level of accuracy, of course.

  • By Bob Durante, April 6, 2010 @ 5:04 am

    This is a very valuable discussion. While it is true that most of the recruiters with whom I’ve spoken do not prefer functional resumes, their objections seem grounded more in preconceptions and stereotypes than in practical experience. Almost all of the functional resumes I’ve seen are not trying to “hide” anything, as Brad suggests, but are trying to promote transferable skills for a cross discipline. I’ve never had much difficulty in connecting skills to jobs, since nearly every resume I now see is not purely “chronological” or purely “functional” but is actually a combination of both. The distinction isn’t nearly as clear cut as it used to be–and I think that is a good thing, particularly in a market like this one, which necessitates being adaptable and willing to change. I think resume formats will continue to evolve into formats that merge both types.

  • By Emily, April 6, 2010 @ 8:16 am

    I finished my BS degree in June 2009 in Business Administration/Finance and have managed to land a position in the healthcare industry that uses none of my education. I could move into a relevant position in the organization, but I have to make it past HR to the people actually hiring for the position. In the meantime, all of the knowledge and skills I worked very hard to acquire are not being used.

    I’m willing to do whatever it takes (as long as it’s legal/ethical) to get to use my brain. I’m not arrogant, I’ll start anywhere- I just want the opportunity to grow.

    I’ve been really frustrated with my inability to acquire or even begin to acquire the skills employers are looking for and I can’t work for free because I have thousands of dollars in student loans that have to be paid.

    Any recommendations?

  • By Sven Haile, April 6, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    What differentiates you from an automated match maker?

    If everyone would select people based on your punch tape principles, there would be even less accountability. Quality business and politics starts with the responsible choice.

  • By Philip Herring, April 7, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

    I have liked several of the articles you have posted and implemented some lessons learned from them but this one left me cold. Dismissal of the “not positive” comments was bothersome but the statement:
    “I don’t make the rules. The client makes the rules.” was the worst.
    This is a cop out. You are hired to provide more than just a search tool. There is nothing contained in your posting that would differentiate you from the Career Builder or Monster search tools.

    A consultant is hired to provide guidance to their client. As a Hiring Manager if I tell you “I want candidates with a Masters” I expect you to ask “WHY”? My expectation of a recruiter is for them to bring me a value add that I do not have access to elsewhere. This includes: not allowing me to set hard criteria unless necessitated by the position its self. E.g. I need a licensed engineer, or I need a candidate with an IT cert for my 8570 requirements, or I need candidates with security clearances… Many other limitations, as listed in your article, are arbitrary and a disservice to your clients and to your own business. E.g. I want a Masters Degree. What does a 5 year old MA bring to the table that is unique and or not obsolete? A MA is a generalized program of study that is specifically designed to be cross industrial, generic, and general in nature unless you are talking about a hard science. What benefit does my 20 year old BA bring to a client? Can you really say with a straight face that the English lit, I.O Psych, and the Sr. year business class I took in 1986 are going to bring value to my prospective employer? You’ve GOT TO BE KIDDING!

    Again, as a hiring Manager, I would MUCH rather see three continuing ed classes that are specific to my companies requirements E.g PMP, Six Sigma, Management Systems, Risk Analysis, FMEA, etc. These along with good experience and a few references tells me that the candidate brings more to the table than book learning and theory. A candidate with this on their CV demonstrates that they have the ability to make a difference and bring success to my teams.

    I would have much rather seen an article on how you advise clients and craft candidate requirements to produce the best results and or how candidates can optimize their CV’s to generate the best results.

    As written, the article comes across as a BIG “FU” to the job seeking community – many of whom might have been your clients in the future.

  • By Phil Darby, April 8, 2010 @ 7:09 am

    This thread is getting too unweildy to read all the comments and there have been many good points made by contributors like Andy Newman, Preston and Barry Deutsh and much highlighting of the obvious deficiencies in Brad’s thinking and process, but has anybody made the comparison between ‘the recruitment industry according to Brad’ and the banking sector?

    It seems that both are an example of people doing well following the rules of a game that ultimately benefits few, but themselves.

  • By L. Raymond Waight, April 9, 2010 @ 5:06 am

    I must say this article was refreshing for me especially because I just entered the job market. It was well articulated and gives the job seeker a great inside view of what happens to our resume- the mirror of our professional life. With that I have a question: How would a recruiter balance a person with a Bachelors and experience in management vs someone fresh with an MBA?

    Thank you again,


  • By Susan, April 9, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    I enjoyed reading this post and followed the link to the cover letter offer: to find a typo!

    “Then all that inforamtion is lost.”

    hope this helps


  • By ExperiencedProfessional, April 14, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    I know plenty of folks with their Bachelor’s degree who are completely unqualified to flip burgers. Either their work ethic sucks or, quite frankly, they’re just plain stupid.

    It boggles my mind why a recruiter or employer would overlook a professional with many years of increasing responsibility, excellent references and industry certifications simply because they did not have the time or financial resources to complete their Bachelor’s.

    May I remind you that many successful people, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, have some or no college education. A degree does not determine ones intelligence or ability to succeed.

  • By Robyn, April 18, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

    I’m curious about point #2 industry. I have 12+ years HR experience in a few different industries and consuting experience for several different industries. How would a recruiter view this?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, April 19, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    For me HR is one of those fields where industry is often less important. However, it is a plus if there is some overlap. For example banking to manufacturing might be tough, but banking to another multi-location, consumer driven company like retail might be an easier match.

  • By Steve Cermak, May 10, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    I accept and appreciate your candid perspective and truth’s of how recruiters eliminate candidates. I’d like to ask for a clarification regarding education… If a company states that an equal amount of experience will be considered in lieu of a degree, will a recruiter still ignore a candidate with a successful career pedigree? If so, I thought the whole idea and concept behind LinkedIn, other social networks and relationships with top recruiters was to participate in a business community where: What you’ve done; Who you know; Recommendations and validation of how good you are, will ensure that the best person will be considered for the job.

  • By A non-recruiter Brad, May 13, 2010 @ 6:22 pm


    I am trying to bridge the gap between what I hear you saying about how you screen resumes, and much of the advice on resume writing that I have heard or read.

    It seems that on one hand a job seeker should highlight bigger achievements, but when trying to get past an HR screener or a recruiter, you should have a list of duties/skills that match the employment listing. I suppose ideally a resume would convey everything, but that is hard to do without becoming too verbose, particularly in the sciences.

    Regarding your method for paring down the pile, as a job seeker, it is disheartening, but yet understanding the reality of the situation is more important than liking it. Now I fully appreciate the advice to only give your resume to the hiring manager if possible. But what do you do when that is not possible? A large company will almost always use an online resume submission system, and there is rarely a way to get info on who the hiring manager is.

  • By Len Fardella, June 10, 2010 @ 8:16 am


    Five months later and the comments continue! Congratulations on the article, and more importantly, your willingness to take the arrows and the time to respond. People and specifically, job seekers may disagree with your approach but in the end, it is, as you pointed out a numbers game in terms of quickly culling often 100’s of applicants down to a manageable best fit group who are then worthy of a more detailed examination. Whether it is done manually or via keywords, the end result is the same in terms of the cost efficient elimination of those outside the initial criteria. A recruiter cannot afford to perform a more detailed assessment on all the applicants.

    Personally, I think you do run the risk of missing the exceptional candidate. However, going back to numbers and cost, in the long run, it’s cost prohibitive to look for those stars. That’s not what company is paying you to do unless it’s an executive level search and there’s considerably more money on the table.

    For job seekers, it reinforces the message that a recruiter is simply one more tool in your job search but understand that they are PAID by the company, not you and this is how the game is played. Engage a recruiter in the same way they engage you and both sides come out happy.


  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, June 10, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the comment. Can’t believe it has been 5 months. I had no idea I would stir up the much controversy when I wrote this article. I was just trying to help people understand how best to get past the screening process.

    I do enjoy the dialog as that is a good thing.

  • By Debra Feldman, JobWhiz, Executive Talent Agent, June 12, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    Rather than look at all these strikes against a particular candidate, I would take the following approach: Use this as a checklist. Then, for each item where the candidate does not match the requirements, find and describe an additional credential that might offset the negative. At the same time, the prospective candidate should anticipate the employe’s or recruiter’s negative reaction and address it with an explanation that MIGHT make the reader reconsider their immediate rejection.

  • By Mara, July 12, 2010 @ 11:05 am

    I don’t disagree with the comments about how you scan resumes. But my question is about a cover letter? I’ve always been told that you should never send a resume without a cover letter (not a cover novel, but at least a letter) and as a hiring manager I do tend to feel like people who take the time to write a cover letter with specific details of how they fit into the position stand out from the pack. But if you’re scanning resumes in 20 seconds, how does a cover letter factor into your review?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, July 13, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    Mara: I think it is important to include the right type of cover letter. Most are absolutely worthless so most just ignore them. The right type will align your background with the position so before they even read your resume they are interested.
    We have an example of he right type of cover letter to include. You can download it at

  • By Ravi NNV, August 11, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    All the information which you had mentioned here is true. I myself was into recruitment but faced tough challenges while moving to a different domain. Thanks a million for this post.

  • By Nathan, August 12, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    It’s like reading the cover of a book and trying to tell the story. i agree it is the only way though.

  • By Kathy Walker, August 14, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    Since this is so easy to do in 20 seconds, software programs are now doing it for you. Recruiters aren’t needed to do this type of screening.

  • By Randy, August 15, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    Brad, thank you for this candid information. I spent several years as a hiring manager in various companies. The fact is when you post a position on Friday and by Monday have over 400 responses you have to develop a system.

    The first “review” really amounted to looking for reasons not to hire someone. Typically they were the points you brought out.

    After reducing the pile to a manageable number I moved on to the task of looking at why I should hire that person. And yes, I feel confident that over the years I missed out on a few great employees, but I can’t help wonder how many more I would have lost to other companies had I spent too much time in the review process?

  • By Lynnehs, August 15, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    How odd that you would say a cover letter is useless when I see so many job ads warning me that resumes without cover letters will not be read.

    From the description of what you do, it looks like job recruiters will someday soon be replaced with computer software programs. I think I know some people who could write the code for that.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, August 17, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    I don’t know what article you read but it certainly wasn’t this one. If you had read the complete article you would have seen I even offer a FREE download of a sample cover letter we recommend using.

  • By Nastia, September 1, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    someone just brought up this article on linkedin. I guess I understand the fact that recruiters are paid to find the “perfect fit”. The sad thing about it that perfect fit to the client’s description is not necessarily a perfect fit to actually doing the job. That’s what a lot of job seekers fail to understand. I wish recruiters were used to advise companies how to see through a person’s experience to see how not an exact match would bring exactly what they were lacking – innovation – different approach – “fresh blood” so to speak, instead – looks like recruiters are used to just scan resumes and make sure a company hires another “perfect candidate” that brings the same thing to the table that they already have….
    So I guess you can’t blame recruiters for an uncreative job that they have to do – just make sure you match as close as you can to the req. It is the company that would have to say: here are the responsibilities, find the best person – I trust that you would see something that simple matching won’t be able to accomplish. I guess in this case only recruiting would make sense. Only then it would be up to the recruiter to creatively assess the candidates – saying, yes – this person has not done exactly this, but based on my experience – you will get the triple benefit from hiring this candidate rather than someone with the “perfect fit job description”.
    By the way, there is really not much logic by saying that if you are a manager, you can’t be hired as a VP for the client – who wants to have a lateral move in a different company – people want a promotion. I’d rather stay at the same company (unless I hate it) – if I can’t get a promotion elsewhere… But I guess as they say – that’s what the client wants – does not matter that if what the client wants may not be the best thing for the client… It is a vicious cycle…

  • By Doug, September 8, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    I agree with all of your views, except for education. I would be careful with that one. #1 – Not everyone goes to a 4-year college. #2 – There are many, many good candidates who have their own special gifts that allow them to be successful in the business world. Some things you just can’t teach in a classroom. It is on the job, in the trenches. and #3 – I have worked with employees with Bachelors degrees, even Masters that have zero people skills and/or a severe lack of work ethic. Just my 2 cents worth. Thanks !!!

  • By Jeffrey Deutsch, October 10, 2010 @ 5:14 pm


    You might find this recent Human Resource Executive article enlightening…especially about the recruiter-employer dynamics when setting education requirements.

    Meanwhile, as the Wall Street Journal has reported, employers are revisiting their priorities on which schools to recruit from…in ways that may surprise you.

    What do you think?

    Jeff Deutsch (not related to Barry, btw)

  • By Chris, December 9, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    I’m curious about the issue of Turnover. I was in mortgage for just over 4 years and even when the economy was more stable, it is fairly common for mortgage companies/banks to recruit Loan officers from other companies. Add to that various companies failing and I ended up working for at least 6 companies in 4 years.

    I’ve since left that industry although I still do sales and now consulting but I was good at what I did and want to use the experience on my resume without it hurting me.

    How can I do that?

  • By William, December 9, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

    Thanks for your perspective. I am not surprised although I had not been assuming that location was an automatic disqualifier. Here are my questions:
    1) Does it matter if I stipulate that I would pay for relocation myself? Is relocation just a matter of money for the client or is there a fear that she might not be able to hit the ground running (I have heard that one).
    2) You mention bachelors and master degrees. Is having a PhD a negative, possibly as some sort of signal of likely poor fit? I know people who hide that they have one even though they have technical jobs.
    3) Is it possible to have ‘too much experience.’ I have had hiring managers talk me back in time on my resume until they found something that they viewed as too dissimilar to the job for which I had applied. Then I was said to be a poor fit.

    What is discouraging to me is the implication that if you have not been doing the exact same job recently you are likely to be tossed. I have never made a lateral move largely because I ended up dealing with hiring managers who understood what my training qualified me to do, even if I had not done it yet.

  • By Mike Ehlers, December 14, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

    WOW!! Brad – I’m a recruiter and you were dead on – shocked how many people are confused with the reality. Note to all, a recruiteris very likely dealing with THE DECISION MAKER, including who he / she will continue to recruit with. Results, and I mean successful results will mean more business, speaking for myself that means me doing a great job. YOU MUST understand you need to learn to sell yourself, this is the reality. If you want to rely on a piece of paper to do that for you, good luck. Saying a recruiter has to read every resume is as silly as a company advertising a product in the newspaper expecting every person that gets the paper should try thier product just because its there. Someone mentioned contacting the hiring manager direct, have you done that yet? why not? Have you researched top companies in the field you would like to work? why not? Here’s an idea, have you offered to help a recruiter find a good candidate for their client if you aren’t right? why not? (here’s the why for those who can’t fathom that – if your friend / associate gets hired, well jeez you now should have a grateful friend in a company that may help YOU now) also, if you help me I’m going to really try to help you, and oh yea – you are now out of that pile.
    My suggestion, take a step back and try to understand all the moving parts, Brad gave a great “reality” view for the masses, but if you don’t think a good recruiter isn’t spending a lot of time with the candidates they eventually focus on and present, ya kinda living in a shell, not that there’s anything wrong with that. One comment to the “Gates of the world” wouldve been overlooked – they didn’t want to work for anyone, so they started their own path – and I guarantee you they would have NEVER posted a resume on a job board and waited….

  • By Michael Dvorscak, December 18, 2010 @ 5:25 am

    Like many have said, thanks for the blog. Being in the job hunt, I can sympathize with frustrated posters and agree with your approach (which is stated several times in various rejoinders).

    I have a theory, that the passive masturbatory exercise of just submitting resumes, cover letters, etc. and hoping they “stick.” is no longer effective. I am sure Amazon is littered with books about creative job hunting, networking, personal branding etc. My point is people are angry because the old way they learned to job hunt is no longer as effective as it once was. Time to step out of the box and try new techniques

    ….and I believe the right employer will be rewarded with a creative, proactive, resource, strategic candidate.

    Someone moved the job hunting cheese, time to go look for it!

    Again thank you for posting this article.

  • By rw, December 22, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    “I was just trying to help people understand how best to get past the screening process.” No, you explained why people will NOT get past the screening process.

    I was discouraged.

    Now I am without hope.

  • By Hiring Manager, December 23, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    After reading your article, I could see value in some of your points although, I would call you a filter, not a recruiter. I also find it VERY concerning that you’ve posted this article as a lead into you “Download your free cover letter” link which when clicked takes the reader to a $29.95 sales pitch. Then as a part of the sales pitch mentions a “Resume Tip” to copy and paste the job posting requirements to the bottom of your resume in 2 point font with white color.

    Based on your article, why would anyone do this??? It completely contradicts the content in your article! Since you are the filter, you would NEVER see in the resume what caused it to actually get to you in the first place. You would then apply your “check box” short cuts and say “Goodbye”.

    Thus… leaving you with $29.95 in your pocket and the job seeker that is making no money without employment, bilked out of another $30 bucks they could have used to put food on their table.

    Filter, recruiter, whatever you call yourself, you sit at the head end of the hiring decision making process. People look to you for your advice and you take unfair advantage of them.

    You should be ashamed of yourself…

  • By Stuart Rosenberg, December 25, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

    While I do agree with some of your points there are some which I have points to make:

    The idea of incorrect spelling and grammer on a resume is unforgiveable especially with all the tools on Microsoft Word. However, some of your other points I take issue with.
    How many in today’s economy can boast of being with the same employer for an extended period of time? Of course what is theat definition? Who is at fault for the major financial decisions that went awry and led to major downsizing we are now blaming the unemployed for. This sounds to me like those companies that were telling recruiter; if person is unemployed we will not consider them.
    If one part of the country has been extremely hard hit in this economy, which is the case, what is the alternative but to look for work in other geogrphical areas?
    In my opinion these companies, with the help of recruiters, are cutting off their noses to spite thier faces. Losing chance at truly qualified personnel due to some arbitrarily created screening process in order to make their lives easier.

  • By Donald Holton, January 6, 2011 @ 9:22 am

    Brad, Eileen, Bill W. Thanks for an updated education. I have been cut free from a company 12-31-10 who lost their contract with their major supplier. The information you have given me is priceless as I head out into a changed new world.

    I have used recruiters as a client many times in the past for Engineering jobs within my departments. To tell you the truth, I want exactly what I specified, not what anyone else thought. It was my butt on the line, the buck stops here etc., not the recruiter’s or applicant’s. If I tell you I want apples, not oranges, you best get me apples or I will find someone who will.

    You have all told the realities of who you work for, and it is certainly not the applicant.

    In addition, all of those who discussed things here, have taught or re-taught me how to now approach things to find new employment in a new world.


    Don Holton

  • By Just UX Jobs, January 19, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    This is a very good post and very true. Pretty much in that order, a recruiter will skim through a resume or CV. Ironically, the better written the resume, the quicker you may be eliminated because it’s easier to find the information that’s being sifted.

  • By Chris Edwards, January 26, 2011 @ 5:43 am

    I thought that this article gave no meaningful advice on how to get through the screening process that recruiters use and was arrogant in the extreme. Unfortunately it is also true in the way it presents the role of recruitment agencies’ role in fulfilling the requirements of the companies they work for. Because of this, I no longer use agencies in obtaining the roles that I am seeking. I merely see them as an obstacle that I have to get around. In the past, I have been ignored by or been unsuccessful at persuading recruiters to put me forward for many roles that I had the transferrable skills for. In the end, I realised I was fighting a losing battle!
    Far better to use your networking and marketing skills to sell yourself to a targeted person in the organisation or company that you want to work for. I have managed to-
    – Transition from being a senior Director of Development for an International Cinema Company to a National Operations Director job for a major Recruitment Company by using my network to recommend me to the right people. Despite having NO experience in that industry. The Managing Director recruited me because he had the insight to see how I could add value to his company by translating the skills I had into helping him achieve his and the company’s long term goals.
    – I called a Chairman from one organisation and persuade him to give me a chance to re-ignite my career by taking a position which most recruiters (if not all) would have declined me for on the basis that I was overqualified. I persuaded him that despite taking a pay cut and having less responsibility, that the role fitted in to my current lifestyle and that because of my experience, I could add real value to his organisation. He agreed (probably because he took half a day of his time to interview me as opposed to 5-7 seconds to scan my CV)and told one of his Directors to recruit me.
    I was a spectacular success in both roles and in the careers that followed. I would not have obtained either role by going through an executive recruiter. I have now set up my own company specialising in offering Career Management services to professionals looking to make a career transition or find their ideal job.
    One of the best pieces of advice I give them is to learn how to effectively market themselves so they don’t have to rely on external recruiters. I will use your article to re-inforce this point and the futility of applying for advertised jobs where they don’t tick all the boxes you outlined above.

  • By James Averill, January 30, 2011 @ 7:10 am

    As a former Operations Manager for a tax firm I can attest the the sheer numbers of resumes prohibits one from reading line for line. At the time I was Operations Manager I had a need to fill 12 positions and received over 200 resumes.

    I set up an outline with several qualifications and skills I looked for. First was tax experience, then went in one pile, second was accounting experience only, they went in another stack and pretty much the rest went into the reject pile.

    After I had filled the first 7 positions, I went through looking for candidates who had customer service experiences and then further sorted that down to those who appeared could be trained.

    So yes, in the sorting out process I might have spent as much as 45 seconds to a minute in a half. However, 10 seconds, unless your a speed reader I’m afraid you may be missing a few outstanding candidates.

    As far as location, I have to disagree with your thought pattern here. You assume the client doesn’t want someone from out of state. Yes there are clients who clearly state this, and I think they too miss the boat on that decision.

    But overall I found your article enlightening and certainly will make me re-think some ways I’m doing things.


  • By Robert Benjamin, February 16, 2011 @ 1:46 am


    As painful as it might be for many candidates, yours is the reality check. You have to satisfy the requirements of the employer – always! Candidates should not waste invaluable time and effort by trying their luck on positions they are not qualified for, nor suited to.

    If a person wants to “learn” a new career at an employer’s expense – such a person should take a drop in salary and become a trainee all over again – or try the welfare organization.

    I wish more recruiters would learn from you though. Many of them do not even know what their clients want. Their fantastic, functional requirements often read like the ABC-, and D-sections of a dictionary.

    Keep up the great work.


  • By James Taylor, February 16, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

    How does this method of “reviewing” resumes assis t when I see postings by recruiters that describe the need for someone almost EXACTLY like me, and after submitting, I get no response (probably because it was filtered in the method you stated) yet I see the exact same posting up 2 to 3 weeks later? As there are a large number of qualified candidates that already submitted their CV and had them discarded, they dont re-submit (I know I dont as my follow up call/email implied that I wasn’t a “exactly what the client was looking for”).
    I seriously think that those guidelines should be altered a bit to perhaps capture “possible” candidates for follow up instead of just discarding them!!!
    My grandfather use to say “if you need a car and cant find a car that runs PERFECTLY…at least look at cars that run!

  • By Jerryetta, March 19, 2011 @ 9:51 am

    The article is very interesting and informative for individuals whose resumes may go across the writer’s desk. I disagree with some of the reasons resumes are disregarded in his daily batch. I feel most clients requesting someone to fill a temporary assignment specify exactly what skills and experience is suitable to fill that position. I don’t think narrowing resumes to find a perfect or close to perfect match for an assignment such as that is wrong. Temporary assignment call for easy to adapt flexible and experienced personal, so based on that it’s not hard to understand extensive 80/20 matching. If a/the position is for direct hire and the experience one has varies in multiple industries and their academic setting along with their skills make them suitable for the position they should be considered. It appears a little selfish and inconsiderate for a recruiter to not take into consideration the state of the economy here in the US while screening applicants to fill job/assignments. It is so unfair to disregard an applicant due to their level of experience and/or performance, meaning, If a possible hire is overqualified for a position and they are available and willing to work, what better person could one get than that one? Another one of his factors that I strongly disagree with is continued Education for those who do not hold Master Degrees. Education is extremely costly and it would be senseless for one to continue pursuing their level of advancement if they can’t afford to at this time. If an applicant holds a BA, BS along with experience I think they are perfect candidate for positions which they have held in prior jobs/assignments.

    EEO specifies general areas of discrimination and will take into account and make a possible addition and/or revision if an act such as this appears to be questionable and needs to be accessed and /or evaluated as discrimination. It can and will be done with submission, by anyone concerned, of a Request for Public Comment on Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Significant Regulations. The idea that someone who has prior experience in a position open to any qualified applicant is subject to fall automatically in discrimination if the rational of the person doing the hiring/screening is limited review and consider possible candidates based on tools being used described in this newsletter. Maybe millions of unemployed people who have years of experience and are considered overqualified for open positions based on this type of screening might feel like this is a threat to their well-being and request a review of this act. If a notice such as this and any like this is presented as a basis for change maybe it will finally be put into effect and stopped.

  • By Barry Deutsch, March 22, 2011 @ 8:14 am


    You raise very good points about resumes and screening – particularly for temporary roles. I do believe there is a dramatic difference in temporary hiring vs. permanent professiona/executive hiring. Our research over 30 years in thousands of executive hires indicates that skills and experiences are not good indicators of success in a job. At entry levels and front-line level jobs, the criteria for success is not so much on outcomes, expectations, and achievement of objectives. Instead, the focus should be on the application of skills and experiences to meet the metrics, standards, and benchmarks for a particular role. Unfortunately, most hiring managers/companies try to make the mistake of assuming that skills/prior experiences will enable someone to do the job in their company to their standards of excellence – this is not always the case and many hiring mistakes occur.

  • By Lana Smith, March 23, 2011 @ 5:32 am

    Brad, I work with military & federal service employees and discuss a functional/combination format as a way to condense lots of experience w/o being repetitious because accomplishments can be the same over multiple assignments, or some assignments are outside their ‘real’ career area. Do you still recommend 2 pg or less chronological resume?? Thanks. Likes your article!

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, April 7, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

    If that works for your specific situation then I wouldn’t change it.
    When I write about this topic I have to focus in general. There are differently exceptions to every rule.

  • By Marty McDonald, May 16, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    As a recruiter this is a perfect summary of how to get through the volume of resumes. Perfect list.

    Thanks for this

  • By Sam Orchard, May 21, 2011 @ 2:08 am

    It’s more important than ever to make your CV (or Resume) stand out and grab the recruiters attention. Huge blocks of paragraphs are simply going to be skipped over.

  • By LostinNJ, June 17, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    Unfortunately, this article and the blogs discussions that followed are extremely discouraging.

    I am not going to state that what Brad and recruiting firms are doing is ridiculous since it has been obvious to me that this is the practice that is still taking place.

    I was laid off six months ago after 13 years with a firm. I had worked my way, over the years, to a Senior Vice President position in the Information Services group.

    Unfortunately, I do not have a degree and most positions I see have that requirement listed. Of course “or equivalent experience” are listed with some however, I believe that isn’t really taken into consideration. Over the years, I have taken many, many management courses but again, I feel this isn’t taken into consideration either.

    Being just over 60 years old, I do not have the time or finances to get that “box” checked which leaves me with the possibility of having to possibly practice “Welcome to Costco” as my next career skill.

    I guess the most discouraging part is that during the very limited calls I do get from recruiters, they all say they love my resume, that my background and skills are very good and that they find me very professional and personable during our conversations.

    Since my resume is probably in the 80% pile 99% of the time, I very rarely get the opportunity to even speak with recruiters for them to know who I am and what my capabilities are.

    Sorry for what may appear to be venting and I know the world is not fair. I just wish that there were more recruiting firms that could just take the time to know the candidates instead of just working with “numbers”.

    That being said however, that would probably mean that they themselves could end up worrying about what pile their resume would be in.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, June 17, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

    LostinNJ the part you are missing is this is how recruiters work, that doesn’t mean that companies won’t review your resume. Recruiters are hired to fill very specific requirements. That is why a company is willing to pay us. If they could find the person themselves they wouldn’t pay us.
    So I wouldn’t get to discouraged if recruiters may not be able to place you in a role. The fact is 99% of the people that contact us we can’t place.

  • By David Mclean, August 15, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    To quote Martin Buckland. Using social media is very important to land a job – even at Tim Hortons or McDonalds!

    Here is a recent quote of Martin’s
    “Some people are so smart at marketing themselves as a product online and offline. On the other hand some are so dumb!”

  • By Janet Henry, August 16, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    The best way to get the attention of recruiters and companies is to use social media all the way!! Martin is correct. you must twitter, and use social media to get noticed to find a job, and even after you have a job so people know who you are. This is important to ensure that you always have a job – and even clients (if you are self employed).

  • By Natasha Akathiotis, January 19, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    As a UK based executive job search strategy consultant, I find myself imparting this information day in day out.

    On the whole I totally agree with everything in your article with the exception of #6 Education. I understand that different rules apply to different roles; however, I’m not sure that a solid academic background is ‘always’ an accurate barometer of an individual’s success later in life.

  • By V icky, February 28, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    And this highlights how phenomally stupid client companies can be. Do you really think for an instant that reception is different in company a then company b? As for functional resumes – what a load of codswallop.

  • By V icky, February 28, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    One other point: this discussion highlights the huge gap between an employer’s expectations of the recruitment process and the job candidates. Employers (client companies) should bear in mind that it is a two way street and it takes two to tango. Your job candidates are de-motivated before they get to the first interview – doesnt bode well for their employment does it?

  • By Laura Valentini, March 22, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    (Sorry for some mistakes in my english- I am not a native english speaker)
    I am an engineer and recently entered job market. AS result now I get so many invites from recruiters who are offering me different posisions- and this positions don’t even close match experience and skills that I have in my resume.
    So your article explains why! I guess I am luckly to have that perfect resume that hits all requirements you listed in your article and necessary keywords. But still the vacancies I am being offered somehow are not for me!
    So in short, I call it a story about “lazy recruiter” .So to most of recruters I want to say goodbye.Not only they don’t bother to find out more about candidates, they also don’t understand what the particular vacancy is about. I once had to tell recruiter twice why I am not a match and to write long letter to explain what the job is about! So i was doing his job!
    So thanks recruiters, but I don’t feel its fair that some lazy middleman will be making his living on selling my skills. At least they have to put some effort out there.

  • By Flexible Guy, May 11, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    Excuse me, but are you a total idiot? If the client is in LA, I’ll move to LA. If the job is in Antarctica, I’ll move to Antarctica. I’m not married. How can you ignore all people that aren’t already in that city?

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, May 11, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    Excuse me but you shouldn’t be so rude. It is not my responsibility to figure out if you will relocate or not or if you expect the company to pay for it or not. It is YOUR responsibility to communicate this. The burden to clearly communicate is on the candidate not the reader of the resume or cover letter.

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