As a job search expert, I am sometimes expected to have ‘all the answers’ for my clients. The good news is I often do know exactly what my clients need to help them be successful in their search. On the other hand, having research to reference in my profession is always a plus.
That is why I was particularly excited when I came across this research report: http://www.saddleback.edu/jobs/documents/2010OrangeCountyResumeSurveyResults.pdf Questions on the survey range from the traditional “1 page vs. 2?” to open-ended questions addressing specific verbs and descriptors hiring managers look for. The information presented is especially useful for new graduates and those fairly early in their careers.
Following are some important highlights of the research questions posed to 2,000+ employer contacts and other professionals. Let’s get started!
Q. Preferred Length of Resume?
A. The answer to this one was split with about 38% of responders saying that it really depends on the level of the position; about 35% were adamant that a resume needs to be 1 page. Almost 20% replied that they preferred 2-page resumes.
What does that tell you? It says that if you have enough content, talent, and history to use more than a single page, go ahead and do it. However, the age-old advice for new graduates to stick to 1 page is likely the right way to go.
Q: What resume style do you prefer?
A: Almost 90% of the survey responders answered either “traditional chronological” or “combination” style. Only 6% preferring a functional resume. No surprise there. Traditional wisdom tells us that hiring managers like to see evidence of longevity and continued employment – info they get by seeing chronological information on a resume.
Q: Paper Preference?
A: Right in line with how I advise my interview coaching clients, old school resume paper is a thing of the past for most hiring managers. There is no stand-out preference and white paper is perfect for the resume when presenting it during an interview. About 54% of respondents said they have no preference and 31% said they like regular white printer paper only.
Q: What about scanning / keyword-searching systems?
A: This question was of particular interest to me, as I hear a lot about the topic in the media, but wanted a more concrete idea of how many companies actually use it. According to the survey, about 46% of companies use scanning or database systems to manage resumes – and of those, 38% use it for all positions. In addition, 11% plan to implement a system for it in the future. That means that your resume needs to be reflective of the vocabulary, skills, and talents employers are asking for in position postings.
Q: What about video resumes?
A: More than 55% of responders said they do not accept video resumes, nor do they plan to in the future. Another 28% said they need to do more research on the legal implications of these types of resumes before making a determination. Less than 10% of responders currently accept video resumes. These results are not surprising. All the research done on video resumes points to overwhelming issues related to discrimination and time requirements (for watching videos).
Q: Are cover letters important?
A: 42% of hiring managers actually look for cover letters from candidates; almost 30% say they don’t have time to read them. In my experience, not having time for something indicates that “something” isn’t worth one’s time. With that in mind, your best bet is to have a well-crafted cover letter that addresses the specific needs of that employer and describes how you fit those needs so when your letter does reach someone, it is actually worth reading!
This survey is definitely something worth your time and attention. The closed-ended and open-ended questions provide answers to age-old questions and new topics. The one question I didn’t see asked is “how do you view resumes?” with answers that include both PC and PDA devices. Perhaps the next survey can dive into that topic!
Do you have a specific job search question you would like answered? Contact me now: [email protected]!