You Passed The 10 Second Screen. You May Still NOT Get A Call. WHY?

After the storm of controversy I created with the article, “How Recruiters Read Resumes In 10 Seconds or Less” (Click here if you haven’t read it), I thought it would be appropriate to follow up with what candidates, that pass the 10 second screen, can do to get a call from a recruiter.

Whether you like recruiters or  hate them, they are a necessary part of the equation in a job search. Some will fight the system, while others will embrace it. My only goal is to help educate candidates that want to understand how recruiters work. I do this to help candidates, not hinder them. I believe the more information you have about how we work the better it is for you.  Together we can then help each other.

Recently I calculated approximately how many resumes I have reviewed in 30 years as an executive recruiter. It is close to, and probably exceeds, 1 million. That is a whole lot of resumes. That number scared me. After 30 years of doing anything, one should get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

So before you send me a nasty comment, I’m going to take the position that I’m as good at what I do after 30 years, as you are at what you do after 20 years.

By doing the following and including these few things on your resume, I believe you can dramatically increase your response rate.

1) NEVER use a functional resume. PERIOD. Before you come up with reasons to justify it, the key word in the sentence is NEVER.  I have never, ever met a recruiter that reads them. In addition, I very rarely have talked to a hiring manager, CEO or HR person that reads them. Why fight this battle? Even if 10% read them, that means 90% don’t. Which side of that equation do you want to be on? Considering that 100% read chronological resumes, you don’t want to fight this one. Join the 100% club and use a chronological resume.

2) The format is not as important as the content in the resume. My experience with speaking with candidates is that they spend a lot of time on the format; what should go on top, where should I put the education, do I need an objective, how long should the summary be, etc.  Spend more time making sure the content communicates to the reader what they think is important. I have yet to meet anyone, who told me, “I sure like all of their experience. They are really qualified, but they put their education in the wrong spot on their resume, so they are out.” The article, “Resumes Are About Substance Over Form” gives a lot of good information on this topic. CLICK HERE to read it.

3) Help us help you. All recruiters need to know certain things to make a decision to call you. The very basics include:

a) Some information on the companies you have worked for such as, size, number of locations, industry and products. This can be done in one sentence or less. Just the name of an unknown company is worthless when screening. You want to stand out from the rest.

b) If you are in management, a little about your organization such as, number of people you manage, are any of them managers, titles, and are they all in the same location.

c) If you are in sales, who are your customers? If not by name, at least what industries you call on, are you selling B2B or B2C, product description, territory size, and average size of the sale. I am constantly amazed that most sales people exclude this information. As a salesperson what you are selling is pretty darn important for the reader to know.

d) For technical people, what technologies are you working with? What language are you programming? If in engineering, is it a highly custom engineered part, are you working on a system or a component, are you designing nuts and bolts or toys? Seems important to me.

d) Include quantifiable results in the accomplishments. If you don’t, these are meaningless and most other resumes will read the same as yours.

The first comment I get from candidates when I suggest these things is, “My resume will be too long.” No, it won’t. I have prepared thousands of resumes and I can get all of this on two pages. In fact, in our book, “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” (CLICK HERE to review)  there is an example of a two page resume that contains all of this information. The person has over 20 years experience, so it is very doable.

Getting in the “A” pile is your responsibility, not the reader’s.

I wish more candidates would help us help them. All you have to do is give us the information we need to call you.

Contrary to what you may think, recruiters want to fill the position just as badly as you want the position.

For a FREE example of a cover letter CLICK HERE.

For a FREE example of a Thank You letter CLICK HERE.

For many more FREE resources and articles, join our Job Search Networking Group on LinkedIn. 4,300 people have done this. CLICK HERE to join.

I welcome your comments and thoughts.





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 ferd, March 3, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    So why do candidates who pass the initial 10 second test still not get calls? The reasons you list look like disqualifiers during those first 10 seconds. Although I am sure that you are the expert you claim to be, how does that answer your headline question?

  • By eric shannon, March 3, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    solid advice Brad. I would like to invite you to join but can’t find your e-mail address… would you send me an e-mail? Thanks!


  • By always the bridesmaid in life, March 3, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Yes it is our responsibility to be that candidate to show who we are and be courteous. even if the recruiter’s job doesn’t match us we want them to keep calling as new opportunities arise rather than be blackballed.

  • By dave, March 4, 2010 @ 7:31 am

    I tend to like your advice and appreciate your perspective, but find the gymnastics required to read any of your “free” examples excessively annoying. It is one thing to offer me something free and then solicit my business if I like what I have read. It is something completely different to solicit my business as a prerequisite to obtaining something that was advertised as “free”. Bottom line, you are compromising the value of your brand with excessively complex sales tactics and I, for one, do not appreciate your tactics.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 4, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

    I am completely confused by our comment. I don’t know of any example on our website that has as you say is, ” a prerequisite to obtaining something that is advertised as FREE.” Everything we advertise as FREE it 100% Free. In fact it appears you downloaded some of these. So you did take full advantage of the free offers and it is our hope you benefit from it.
    We do make you aware of other resources that will help you shorten you search. After all we are expert helping people find positions. I think all of free materials clearly demonstrates that.
    Have you ever purchased anything on Amazon, Netflix or even Apple.
    I don’t see having to CLICK a button on your computer one extra time, to receive something of extreme value that you will benefit from as inappropriate or excessive. How difficult is it click. You are not under any circumstances required to purchase anything to receiver or free offers and there are no strings attached. One additional click and you have your free sample or samples.
    This just doesn’t seem unreasonable. Especially, since you are the one that receives the benefits.
    Sorry but I’m am confused by your comment.
    I do sincerely hope you benefit from the free materials and find a job faster as a result of one of them.

  • By Stanley Mathews, March 4, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    Hey Brad,

    I liked all of the comments, but now let’s focus on me for a second. After visiting your website I note that your materials primarily focus on executives. For someone who’s not an executive (like myself) would your materials help me in my work search? If not who’s materials would you recommend I investigate? I have a technical background, was part of a company wide layoff back in the summer of ’08, actively searching since.

    Thanks for the info.

  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, March 4, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    I don’t think these materials are for executives as much as I would say they are for the professional. It could be an accountant, programmer, engineer or sales rep. As opposed to the clerical, labor or clerk level.

    If you fall into the professional category I believe they fit. However, like most things we have to be some what general because we are writing to a diverse group of professionals and everyone is a little different. What that means is probably 90% will fit and the other 10% you will have to adapt to your specific situations.

    Hope that helps.

  • By nyert, March 5, 2010 @ 8:12 am

    Another sensational headline, but little to back it up. Lots about you patting yourself on the back, but one must dig to the bottom to find any hints that relate to the headline. But you do sound like recruiters I’ve tried to work with – bait and switch, and self-congratulatory.

  • By Barry Deutsch, March 5, 2010 @ 2:03 pm


    I do NOT want to enter into a give and take with you on your claim of bait and switch. I published your comment because I want our readers to see how you are the exception to the rule. Let’s take each of your points:

    1. Dig to the bottom to get to hints relating to the headline: That article has references to lots of free tools we provide including self-assessments, other articles, best practices, FREE audio program. No one could claim that we’re offering fluff vs. hardcore tools, advice, recommendations, and tactics.

    2. I sound like most recruiters – bait and switch: I’m not trying to bait you into anything. Take our free tools, listen to our free audio programs, download our free samples, subscribe to our blogs, get our newsletter, and so on. OR DON’T. It’s your choice. But please don’t blame Brad and I for providing a lot of value to the job search community. We’ve discovered that a little “tough love” goes a long way to motivating candidates to start doing something different in their job search. Sometimes those message “hurt” a little.

    You’re welcome to be angry over your job search and direct it at recruiters in general. My recommendation is to focus on improving your job search and start doing the things that your peers are not doing.

  • By Rosemary, March 5, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Hi! have you any special advice for the older worker? This is my challenge: I worked at the same company for 31 years. 2 years ago, the company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’m only 56 so I couldn’t really retire. I had 2 retail seasonal jobs since then but I need a “real” job – 9-5, M-F with benefits. I’m a good assistant – administrative assistant. I have excellent people skills, communications skills and telephone skills. I have a basic knowledge of Microsoft Office. I’m a quick learner, I’m conscientious, dedicated, reliable, and loyal. I was well-liked in each of my jobs and I am very outgoing, personable, friendly and kind-hearted (a team player). I don’t gossip or waste time. But I find it difficult to get a job because of younger competition. How can I help myself?

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