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Why You Can’t Get A Job … Recruiting Explained By the Numbers

by May 20, 2013, 5:03 am ET

Is your “six seconds of fame” enough to land you a job?

As a professor and a corporate recruiting strategist, I can tell you that very few applicants truly understand the corporate recruiting process. Most people looking for a job approach it with little factual knowledge. That is a huge mistake. A superior approach is to instead analyze it carefully, because data can help you understand why so many applicants simply can’t land a job. If you can bear with me for a few quick minutes, I can show you using numbers where the job-search “roadblocks” are and how that data-supported insight can help you easily double your chances of landing an interview and a job.

Your Resume Will Face a Lot of Competition

Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. Finding a position opening late can’t help your chances because the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted. If you post your resume online on a major job site like Monster so that a recruiter can find it, you are facing stiff competition because 427,000 other resumes are posted on Monster alone each and every week (BeHiring).

Understanding the Hiring “Funnel” can Help You Gauge Your Chances

In recruiting, we have what is known as a “hiring funnel” or yield model for every job which helps recruiting leaders understand how many total applications they need to generate in order to get a single hire. As an applicant, this funnel reveals your chances of success at each step of the hiring process. For the specific case of an online job posting, on average, 1,000 individuals will see a job post, 200 will begin the application process, 100 will complete the application, 75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the ATS or a recruiter, 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager, 4 to 6 will be invited for an interview, 1 to 3 of them will be invited back for final interview, 1 will be offered that job and 80 percent of those receiving an offer will accept it (Talent Function Group LLC).

Six Seconds of Resume Review Means Recruiters Will See Very Little

When you ask individual recruiters directly, they report that they spend up to 5 minutes reviewing each individual resume. However, a recent research study from TheLadders that included the direct observation of the actions of corporate recruiters demonstrated that the boast of this extended review time is a huge exaggeration. You may be shocked to know that the average recruiter spends a mere 6 seconds reviewing a resume.

A similar study found the review time to be 5 - 7 seconds (BeHiring). Obviously six seconds only allows a recruiter to quickly scan (but not to read) a resume. We also know from observation that nearly 4 seconds of that 6-second scan is spent looking exclusively at four job areas, which are: 1) job titles, 2) companies you worked at, 3) start/end dates and 4) education. Like it or not, that narrow focus means that unless you make these four areas extremely easy for them to find within approximately four seconds, the odds are high that you will be instantly passed over. And finally be aware that whatever else that you have on your resume, the recruiter will have only the remaining approximately 2 seconds to find and be impressed with it. And finally, if you think the information in your cover letter will provide added support for your qualifications, you might be interested to know that a mere 17 percent of recruiters bother to read cover letters (BeHiring).

A Single Resume Error Can Instantly Disqualify You

A single resume error may prevent your resume from moving on. That is because 61 percent of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it contains typos (Careerbuilder). In a similar light, 43 percent of hiring managers will disqualify a candidate from consideration because of spelling errors (Adecco). The use of an unprofessional email address will get a resume rejected 76 percent of the time (BeHiring). You should also be aware that prominently displaying dates that show that you are not currently employed may also get you prematurely rejected at many firms.

A Format That Is Not Scannable Can Cut Your Odds by 60 Percent

TheLadders’ research also showed that the format of the resume matters a great deal. Having a clear or professionally organized resume format that presents relevant information where recruiters expect it will improve the rating of a resume by recruiter by a whopping 60 percent, without any change to the content (a 6.2 versus a 3.9 usability rating for the less-professionally organized resume). And if you make that common mistake of putting your resume in a PDF format, you should realize that many ATS systems will simply not be able to scan and read any part of its content (meaning instant rejection).

Weak LinkedIn Profiles Can Also Hurt You

Because many recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn profiles either to verify or to supplement resume information, those profiles also impact your chances. Ey- tracking technology used by TheLadders revealed that recruiters spend an average of 19 percent of their time on your LinkedIn profile simply viewing your picture (so a professional picture may be worthwhile). The research also revealed that just like resumes, weak organization, and scannability within a LinkedIn profile negatively impacted the recruiter’s ability to “process the profile” (TheLadders).

50 Seconds Spent Means Many Apply for a Job They Are Not Qualified for

Recruiters report that over 50 percent of applicants for a typical job fail to meet the basic qualifications for that job (Wall Street Journal). Part of the reason for that high “not-qualified” rate is because when an individual is looking at a job opening, even though they report that they spend 10 minutes reviewing in detail each job which they thought was a “fit” for them, we now know that they spend an average of just 76 seconds (and as little as 50 seconds) reading and assessing a position description that they apply for (TheLadders). Most of that roughly 60-second job selection time reviewing the position description is actually spent reviewing the narrow introductory section of the description that only covers the job title, compensation, and location.

As a result of not actually spending the necessary time reviewing and side-by-side comparing the requirements to their own qualifications, job applicants end up applying for many jobs where they have no chance of being selected.

Be Aware That Even if Your Resume Fits the Job Posting, You May Still Be Rejected

To make matters worse, many of the corporate position descriptions that applicants are reading are poorly written or out of date when they are posted. So even if an applicant did spend the required time to fully read the job posting, they may still end up applying for a job that exists only on paper. So even though an applicant actually meets the written qualifications, they may be later rejected (without their knowledge) because after they applied, the hiring manager finally decided that they actually wanted a significantly different set of qualifications.

Making it Through a Keyword Search Requires a Customized Resume

The first preliminary resume screening step at most corporations is a computerized ATS system that scans submitted resumes for keywords that indicate that an applicant fits a particular job. I estimate more that 90 percent of candidates apply using their standard resume (without any customization). Unfortunately, this practice dramatically increases the odds that a resume will be instantly rejected because a resume that is not customized to the job will seldom include enough of the required “keywords” to qualify for the next step, a review by a human.

Even if you are lucky enough to have a live recruiter review your resume, because recruiters spend on average less than 2 seconds (of the total six-second review) looking for a keyword match, unless the words are strategically placed so that they can be easily spotted, a recruiter will also likely reject it for not meeting the keyword target.

No One Reads Resumes Housed in the Black hole Database

If you make the mistake of applying for a job that is not currently open, you are probably guaranteeing failure. This is because during most times, but especially during times of lean recruiting budgets, overburdened recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have the time to visit the corporate resume database (for that reason, many call it the black hole). So realize that recruiters generally only have time to look at applicants who apply for a specific open job and who are then ranked highly by the ATS system.

Some Applicants Have Additional Disadvantages

Because four out of the five job-related factors that recruiters initially look for in a resume involve work experience, recent grads are at a decided disadvantage when applying for most jobs. Their lack of experience will also mean that their resume will likely rank low on the keyword count. To make matters worse, the average hiring manager begins with a negative view of college grads because a full 66 percent of hiring managers report that they view new college grads “as unprepared for the work place” (Adecco).

Race can also play a role in your success rate because research has shown that if you submit a resume with a “white sounding name,” you have a 50 percent higher chance of getting called for an initial interview than if you submit a resume with comparable credentials from an individual with a “black-sounding name” (M. Bertrand, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business).

Remember a Resume Only Gets You an Interview

Even with a perfect resume and a little luck, getting through the initial resume screen by the recruiter only guarantees that your resume will qualify for a more thorough review during what I call the “knockout round.” During this next stage of review, the recruiter will have more time to assess your resume for your accomplishments, your quantified results, your skills, and the tools you can use.

Unfortunately, the recruiter is usually looking for reasons to reject you, in order to avoid the criticism that will invariably come from the hiring manager if they find knockout factors in your resume. If no obvious knockout factors are found you can expect a telephone interview, and if you pass that, numerous in-person interviews (note: applicants can find the most common interview questions for a particular firm on

Even if You Do Everything Right, the Odds Can Be Less Than 1 Percent

Because of the many roadblocks, bottlenecks, and “knockout factors” that I have highlighted in this article, the overall odds of getting a job at a “best-place-to-work” firm can often be measured in single digits. For example, Deloitte, a top firm in the accounting field, actually brags that it only hires 3.5 percent of its applicants. Google, the firm with a No. 1 employer brand, gets well over 1 million applicants per year, which means that even during its robust hiring periods when it hires 4,000 people a year, your odds of getting hired are an amazingly low 4/10 of 1 percent. Those unfortunately are painfully low “lotto type odds.”

Up to 50 Percent of Recruiting Efforts Result in Failure

In case you’re curious, even with all the time, resources, and dollars invested in corporate recruiting processes, still between 30 percent and 50 percent of all recruiting efforts are classified by corporations as a failure. Failure is defined as when an offer was rejected or when the new hire quit or had to be terminated within the first year ( Applicants should also note that 50 percent of all new hires later regret their decision to accept the job (Recruiting Roundtable).

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, much of what is written about “the perfect resume” and the ideal job search approach is based on “old wives’ tales” and is simply wrong. However, when I review the numbers that are available to me from internal company recruiting data and publicly through research done by industry-leading firms like TheLadders, Adecco, BeHiring,, and Careerbuilder, it doesn’t take long to realize that the real job search process differs significantly from the ideal one.

Rather than leaving things to chance, my advice both to the applicant and to the corporate recruiting leader is to approach the job search process in a much more scientific way. For the applicant that means start by thoroughly reading the position description and making a list of the required keywords that both the ATS and the recruiter will need to see.

Next submit a customized resume that is in a scannable format that ensures that the key factors that recruiters need to see initially (job titles, company names, education, dates, keywords, etc.) are both powerful and easy to find during a quick six-second scan. But next comes the most important step: to literally “pretest” both your resume and your LinkedIn profile several times with a recruiter or HR professional. Pretesting makes sure that anyone who scans them for six seconds will be able to actually find each of the key points that recruiters need to find.

My final bit of advice is something that only insiders know. And that is to become an employee referral (the highest volume way to get hired). Because one of the firm’s own employees recommended you and also because the recruiter knows that they will likely have to provide feedback to that employee when they later inquire as to “why their referral was rejected,” résumés from referrals are reviewed much more closely.

I hope that by presenting these 35+ powerful recruiting-related numbers I have improved your understanding of the recruiting process and the roadblocks that you need to steer around in order to dramatically improve your odds of getting a great job.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

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  • Joseph Murphy

    Thanks for pulling together some of the interesting facts about recruiter behavior. For additional detail, readers can search ‘Candidate Experience Award’ and down load the 2012 white paper. While there, consider participating in the 2013 survey process.

    You reinforce the fact that the vast majority of recruiter effort is candidate rejection. So it begs the question? What is your rejection process?

    Secondly, evidence-based hiring methods often document that previous experience is not the best predictor of success on the job. As such, the six second ‘wonder-look’ may indeed be placing emphasis on the wrong data. This is reinforced by your point that between 3- to 50 percent of hiring decisions are determined a failure. What other business process is allowed to operate with such a high level of waste and rework?

    You suggest it is time for a more scientific approach, and offer the candidate a few suggestions. There are sound alternatives for recruiters as well. Perhaps it is time for a shift from the hope-filled key word search to the research-filled capabilities evaluation. Companies that use evidence-based management for staffing process improvement achieve higher success rates. Learn more about this discipline here.

  • Howard Adamsky

    Excellent work and terrific information.

    Say what you will about the good doctors vest, he can still hit them out of the park!

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  • Jeff Altman

    Thank you for the reference to the impact of racism in selection. I would also add, foreign sounding names . . . the longer the less likelihood.

  • John Hoskins

    John your submissions are always a great read. This one in particular as it provides us “data” to support our value proposition. We have testimony on our site and each day I talk to employers and also candidates who benefit from our process. Check out We help sales professionals certify themselves for employers to distinguish them from the pack. The eHaromony of sales recruiting. Thank you John and please do keep the good articles flowing!

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Dr. Sullivan. I think the unstated definition of “diversity” at a company I contracted for (and you have often praised) gives a bit of additional insight to the type of candidates most companies look for:”We hire all types of young, attractive, enthusiastic, largely white, upper-middle class people just like us.” Besides, EOCs overall, this is particularly true of startups- have you seen how few people past their early-30s seem to be in the pictures startups have on their websites? Also, notice how a high proportion of the employees seem to be of the same ethnic group as that of the founders, whatever that may be?


  • Peter Macdonald

    Great article John

    Now can you please pass this along to every job seeker in the world!


  • Steve Begg

    Brilliant article John. My advice to candidates is that recruiters find people for jobs, not jobs for people and use numbers to outline my comment similar to those you have used here. The 250 resumes is more like 50-70 here in Australia, but multiply that by the 10-15 jobs that the recruiter has on and you have a lot of CV’s. Jobseekers need to understand that workload and therefore build their CV’s so the recruiter can find the information they are chasing quickly. And if they can’t find that information, they are in the “no” pile.

  • A D

    Thanks, Dr Sullivan. This article is an instant classic, destined to be shared out to many jobseekers. I know I will.

    Another example of “uncommon sense”. Recruiters, like most other people, don’t have a particularly good idea of of how exactly how they do their jobs. So applicants have even less understanding of the reality. I already was telling people that they only had a 1% chance at the average job and at most a 10% chance at jobs for which they were particularly suited.

    I would suspect that the amount of time spent varies from 5 seconds to, say, 45 seconds, with most resumes getting only a quick glance at the fields you mention (companies, titles, length of time at each and education and maybe objective) and more promising resumes getting more attention.

    It’s also probable that when a recruiter is wired up to cameras etc, they run through the process a bit more quickly due to nerves and the desire to be more productive. Adam

  • Debbi Morello

    Dear Dr. Sullivan thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations,

    Corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars in profit and hiring less, is that correct? And here’s my very cynical take on “job hunting” especially to those making a living at it, listen carefully:

    I read this and have further confirmation that this is a very sad reality, particularly when you consider how much one needs to consider how much they should “tailor” their resume for a computer.

    Therefore, by that standard, I guess the better your resume can be scanned by a computer, determines the more qualified candidate? What about the human factor? And what about age and race?

    Clearly, the EEOC disclaimers (at least to me) are bold-faced lies. In my experience, age discrimination particularly, is alive and well.

    I see a real decline in value and integrity in today’s world, in the U.S., certainly what matters most, no longer matters. Perhaps you should also explain the “six seconds of fame” factor to our veterans. What a country!

    Signed, the under-employed baby boomer who can run rings around most people getting hired.

  • Gary Cluff

    Right on, John!
    These are the reasons I advise all job seekers to get the body there before the paper (resume)! Meet and interact with the people you want to work with. They are less likely to reject or ignore you in person than they are just eye-balling your resume.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Debbi: Quite true. However, I think this isn’t a big change, but the usual state of affairs in a job-shortage economy, aka “the new normal”.


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  • Debbi Morello

    Thanks Keith. I believe it is a big change. I have to say (and this is speaking to Gary’s point about get the body there before the paper) I never had a problem making contact and networking, getting in the door for a face to face. This was certainly true before voice mail and automation, no I’m not 100 years old, though anyone who is under 25 has no idea what I’m talking about. I get in very rarely now, and I’m persistent. On another note, I don’t think it’s only a job shortage economy, I believe there are a few factors playing in, or more than a few. Things have changed and that is “the new normal” – did yothe new normal also includes an exploding suicide rate in boomers? Personally, I believe our society is in the crapper. The New York Times also wrote about this last week.

  • Severin Sorensen

    Your lament or realization that “with all the time, resources, and dollars invested in corporate recruiting processes, still between 30 percent and 50 percent of all recruiting efforts are classified by corporations as a failure…” is a sobering thought. If read too quickly, your statement may lead some to believe that hiring is nothing but a coin toss, and I am sure this is far from what you intended. I think what it means to me is that in addition to ‘hiring slow’, one also needs to have an on-boarding process to help candidates succeed or ‘fail fast’ with a follow-up commitment to ‘fire fast’ when necessary; thus keeping the search alive for top talent.

    Thanks for your post; always insightful. Thanks.

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  • Keith Halperin

    @ Debbi: Good points. I think that where you had the previous ability to get in (F2F), not many people did as well, or even tried. It’s much easier to do it virtually, so more people do it, so it gets harder for any one person to have that advantage. I think the ‘New Normal” is a radically unequal winner-take-all-society where millions of people ((mainly boomers) who worked hard and played by all the rules have lost heavily and may NEVER get it back. That coulddrive lots of people to suicide, I’m afraid to say…

    @ Severin: You raise a good point- What IS a successful hire?
    Is it someone who is a top group performer who stays with us until we decide they’re no longer useful? Also, I think hiring quality people in a timely manner and within budget should be a deliverable of hiring managers as much as delivering their product or service in a quality, timely, in-budget way.



  • Gary Steeds

    WOW, What a discouraging article. Assuming that these facts are accurate (And that is a big assumption) I should go out there and fire everyone of my recruiters and start over with a new group.

    However, I have a pretty good sense as to the quality of the job my people do as well as to their integrity and sensitivity to the applying candidate. We teach our people to try to screen candidates “in” in the first scan not “out” as this article suggests. Some of our best candidates come from resumes that are submitted from weary and discouraged candidates. Sometimes maybe with a little commitment and a trained eye for reading between the lines will bring better results.

    I can not count the number of candidates that after a positive review and a few professional suggestions that have said “Thanks, no one has ever told me that or tried to give me some positive encouragement”

    While we as recruiters sit in judgement of the “waste of my precious time resumes” we need to look harder and give some positive support to these candidates. We need to do our job. As professional recruiters. We need realize with the litany of ATS have done to the effort it takes to seek a position using the Internet.

    Of course on the other side it seems like I had better get out there do some retraining “where there is smoke there is probably fire”

    Gary Steeds

  • Davine Bey

    Solid analyses. Dr. Sullivan…The race issue is very serious in recruiting. Unconscious/conscious bias plays a major role in the selection process. In 2013, many organizations still refer to some of its potential and current talent as “minorities”. Well last I checked, minority implies less than, which is why I guess “qualified” minority are often encouraged to apply. Nonetheless, I don’t want to derail from the great article that you have shared.

  • Andre Buckles

    I especially liked the comment about reading the position description and applying only based on meeting the minimum qualifications. I think part of the issue is resource constraints for hiring managers, recruiters and companies overall that mean there is little room to train or prepare new employees to be successful without having “been there, done that.” I would argue for us to deal with the talent shortage and the high numbers of unemployed individuals we need to coach hiring managers in the recognition of transferable skills, and give them the room to bring people up to speed. Then instead of 6 seconds per CV maybe we look at experiences which can be used as a starting point to hire, train, and ultimately retain. Having started recruiting before the internet was widely used, and with a homegrown database, we started with a conversation to get to know someone, looked at a resume after and interviewed based on the combination of inputs. Perhaps in human resources we can simply be more human?

  • mark axelrod

    All good info. However, the article refers to roadblocks and obstacles positioned by HR department personnel and internal recruiters, and self-inflicted wounds by candidates who may be valuable employees potentially but who don’t dot I’s or cross T’s very well (or at all) in the run up to the courtship. The rules of the game profoundly change when a motivated candidate (obviously one with excellent credentials, experience and accomplishments) partners with a seasoned independent recruiter whose knowledge of the placement process is respected by the candidate, i.e., the recruiter’s mentoring is accepted. The recruiter, who works directly with hiring managers, then effectively becomes that candidate’s resume. This procedure required considerably more work for both the candidate and the recruiter than to click and hope for the best, but it does up end the odds noted in the article.
    Mark H. Axelrod
    Benchmark Recruiting Services, Inc.
    Now Celebrating Our 25th Anniversary In The Staffing Business

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  • Stephen Chatham

    Very realistic and true article.

  • Debbi Morello

    I appreciate your insightful comments very much. Whatever the point of this article seems to be, it has garnered some attention and some good discussion. I can’t agree with you more, and you say it perfectly “the ‘New Normal” is a radically unequal winner-take-all-society where millions of people ((mainly boomers) who worked hard and played by all the rules have lost heavily and may NEVER get it back.” I’m afraid so.


  • Debbi Morello

    Keith, I mean Keith… ;-) not Kevin. Thanks!

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  • Cheryl Wingert

    Excellent and very thorough article. Sad, but true.

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  • amos maffei

    Reading this article makes me wanna cry. If what the author states is true, I believe I will never find a job.
    I graduated a year ago with a 3.6 GPA (double major in Econ/Maths). Despite 400+ attempts, I have not been able to lock-in a single job.I had 8 face to face interviews, and maybe 3/4 more phone screenings -I suspect they needed to fulfill some diversity requirements only.
    The system described, I suspect, has tremendous potential to hide what really goes on during the hiring process. For instance, if an applicant is a foreigner, it can be easily discarded without any need to give explanations, and worse even, no risk to be reported for discriminating.
    As another poster mentioned, the article does not make any mention to the precedence a person has when that person is a veteran. With all due respect to veterans, at the end of the day, they are only transitioning from a job to another, like many of the currently unemployed are doing.
    Another point I wish the article would have mentioned is the role H1B-Visas hold. How comes that these workers come in, expertise or not, and bypass the whole system? While many of us need to have a prove-it typing test even after the various certifications achieved through formal education channels, H1B-Visa holders not only speak English with a great deficit in the vast majority of cases, but hardly ever face the Prove-It squalor most job applicants have to endure.
    Last point I wish i would have heard a mention is nepotism. I believe most of us are not so naive to believe there is not a way around this hiring funnel. In fact a few people bypass the whole system and land a job on the premises that friends recommended them. I find this last technique to be viscid at best.

  • Phillip Armour

    What a good article! Thanks.

    One of the interesting things about large-scale dissemination of these ideas is, of course, that a lot more people would be using them. There are some challenges with this. Much of the throttling of the recruiting process is governed by the bandwidth of the recruiters, which won’t change. If more resumes get through the initial filters that would give recruiters more work to do in the same bandwidth. This means that they would likely have to find other reasons to reject most of the resumes very quickly, even if they are “better” resumes.

    The improvement in people’s chances would actually work best if most people *didn’t* apply these ideas, but just a few did. So perhaps calling for widespread popularisation would be counterproductive–best to keep it to yourself to maintain that edge over the rest of the unwashed masses, eh?

    This is rather similar to innovations in financial market dealings (here I’m thinking of Black-Scholes)–it works well as long as people don’t use it, but once it becomes widely known and applied it stops working.

    I think the stats on how many people get recruited but wish they hadn’t or it doesn’t work out is where the real market place problem lies. This article should be read by recruiters more than applicants since clearly the recruiters’ filtering mechanisms are not working well and costing the people who employ them a lot of money. It looks to me like these filters are designed to reduce the workload of recruiters more than they are designed to effectively and efficiently identify good candidates.

    Has Dr. Sullivan addressed this issue somewhere?

  • Al Gamow

    Good tips. Nevertheless, if everyone did everything Sullivan says to do, not everyone will get hired. Sullivan says, “On average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening.” I did the math and came up with one smart guy or gal hired, and 249 not hired.

  • John Donaldson

    Thank you Dr Sullivan for collating this Information and presenting it so succinctly. I wonder whether you would be interested in starting a dialogue with a philanthropic-visioned enterprise that is trying to create a movement to combat just these issues. We have developed answers to the problems you have described in the initial application stage of recruitment for the benefit of both recruiters and applicants and would be honoured if you would review their worth as a contribution towards helping job and talent seekers alike reduce their time and increase the efficiency within the job creation process.

  • Melina Sasso

    Thanks for the article – however frustrating from a job seeker perspective, realistic though. However just once I want to point that of the tons of recruiters corporate, onsite or from whatever recruiting agency, most of the recruiters are not up to speed at all themselves, most of them change their jobs every 6 months or year. Even if they are spending the 6 seconds to scan your CV or resume, the throw away sometime the best candidates because they are not paying attention in those 6 seconds. I went to an event where 4 international companies were represented by their respective HR manager, on site recruiters etc. When HR were confronted by the audience if they were that some of their recruiters have no experience what so ever and don’t recognize when an applicant is a great match for the position they are trying to fill – there was silence for a while, and just HR manager had the guts to admit that is the case and needs to be changed. I have maybe 3 really professional and great recruiter who can give me advice and work closely together with, the rest is useless. So the job seeker is not only faced with all the challlenge you mentioned in your article but unprofessional recruiter and hiring manager who don’t see a great match from an experience, cultural perspective.

  • Colin Williams

    Thanks, a very interesting article. I am consistently gaining interviews, perform reasonably well, but I think my age (50′s) is the killer. The body language of the interviewers is quite telling!
    Any thoughts about the age factor?

  • Debbi Morello

    Colin Williams – I posted a an initial comment on May 21 and several responses subsequently. One point I made was about the age factor, another reason why I found this article sadly insulting and a sad commentary of where we are today; particularly those of us in our 50s with significant experience and expertise. After three years of being jerked around, countless interviews, my references going above and beyond, I came to the conclusion my quality of life was being controlled by factors I viewed with disdain, I made a major decision to say a big F you to all of it. After what I have experienced and witnessed first hand – age discrimination is alive and well, as well as incompetence, lack of vision, and a serious lack of emotional intelligence. Do yourself a favor, find another way. I did, it has not been easy, however the changes I made provided me a path to much more than I was able to envision while mired in that mess. Don’t consider the “roadblocks,” using the term of the “internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley” author of this article, something to “steer” around… take them as a way to the road less traveled ;-)

  • employment seeker

    @ Debbi Morello,

    I agree with you on the age discrimination factor. However, discrimination does not stop there –I take for granted that most people know that accent, skin tone, sex and sexual orientation are fertile soil for discrimination to prolifer. An excuse is all employers need in order to turn candidates away.
    Now, to me turning away a candidate means that another candidate has already been identified to say the least. What I wish to point everyone’s attention towards is who those suitable candidates are. In my experience, most of the “suitable candidates” are connected to those making hiring decision through ways of close friendship and family ties –in a word nepotism is the methodology used to hire, and sadly fire in favor of a “better” candidate.
    I feel that this hiring method is what gangs use to recruit new gangsters, the way the mob recruits new mobsters, and the way some exclusive clubs use to admit new supporters.
    I believe that values such as scholastic achievement, great credit scores, no criminal records, in short what determined a valuable member of any society have been replaced with the ability to be cynical and hypocritical — again the ability to leverage on nepotism.
    I am not able to take other ways to find a job because those involve the use of some capital, and I am unable to repay my student loans, since I am unable to find a steady job. However, given the possibility, that seems like a sound idea.

  • Peter Macdonald

    I have been in the recruitment game for over 30 years now. Age discrimination is alive and well! Pre GFC when there was a shortage of people we started to see some walls break down, but Post GFC we’re in a worse position than before. From personal experience part of the problem in the large corporates is the proliferation of HR dept’s staffed by 20 & 30 somethings and shoot me for being sexist here -predominantly female. My perception is they want to recruit friends to work with -I don’t mean real friends but people they feel comfortable with and can become friends with ie: other 20 or 30 somethings and usually of the same gender. If you don’t fit the mould you are pushing the proverbial uphill. The person who will most respect (and understand) your experience and value are people of similar age to yourself. Seek them out personally, don’t waste your time applying to job board ads.

  • W J

    So, can we just agree to conclude that the traditional hiring process is insanely retarded? Even without going into the candidates themselves we have hirers that don’t know what the job exactly is about, don’t know what they want, looking for the wrong qualities etc. Note that when companies don’t even begin to question these underlying assumptions BEFORE THEY EVEN START HIRING how in the hell is the whole thing is supposed to select the correct people? My brain cells are dying already.

  • Olga G

    Very useful article to get some insight on how recruiting works nowadays..They might pick up people who have the right technical skills but anything beyond that is simply a matter of luck..In my opinion?Not really efficient.

  • steve owen

    As a recent college grad and job seeker I wish I had read this article sooner. I had heard that recruiters only spend a few seconds browsing resumes but I had no idea that most applicants are screened out by a computer until very recently. I have outstanding work experience for someone my age, glowing references from my past employers, and I have been tailoring each submitted resume to appeal to a HUMAN recruiter and assuming they might spend a minute glancing over my resume…

    What has that resulted in? Over 200 applications submitted ONLY to jobs that I know I can qualify for, or perform with minimal training. 2 actually resulted in phone interviews that passed to the next stage of talking to the hiring managers. (Here is the interesting part) Zero hiring managers actually bothering to schedule a face-to-face interview, or interview of any kind.

    I am blown away and lost for words at this point. 3 months into my search and I haven’t even been able to show my face to a hiring manager in a financial or banking company. Even when walking into a branch and asking to see the manager in person to say hello, they are almost never available, and none of them want to accept a paper resume. It has to be screened by a computer, then a recruiter, then HR, before they are ever allowed to see any potential candidates.

    My last point, even a glowing employee referral no longer seems to matter if you meet EVERY single qualification except for one. In my case, I met nearly 20 posted requirements for a staff auditing position, had a glowing employee referral from someone IN the department I was applying to, had relevant work experience, and a nicely customized resume and cover letter. I got turned away by HR because they refused to schedule an interview with the hiring manager. Why? I lacked 2 hours of college finance to meet their stated requirement…

    I’m tempted to scrap every extraneous detail (i.e. work achievements and job duties from my resume and submit nothing but job titles, education, and keywords. I just want to see what happens…)

  • Bailey H

    This is an interesting article, however I would like to add a few points being an x recruiter for 10+ years. The first is that it sometimes works to force your way into an agency on foot, this means arriving without appointment and requesting to speak to the hiring recruiter relevant to the role. Just be prepared and also have a copy of your resume on you. Timing is important, make sure you arrive first thing in the morning before recruiters start their hectic day rejecting resumes. Most agencies generally have customer/ client service levels they must follow in order to keep accreditation and ceo’s of Hr/ Rec firms do not like hearing about mistreated candidates. The second is to call and request to speak to the recruiter to ” find out more information on the role”, be prepared as this can turn into a phone interview.
    Be also aware that particularly in Australia, that the majority of recruiters are women and alarmingly I have experienced, therefore favour women for the role they are recruiting for. In my recent job hunt I found only women rejected my applications and I received calls for screening from only male recruiters. This may sound a bit far fetched, but a fact that I have witnessed first hand from ” behind closed doors”. Age discrimination is alive and well, reverse sexism, racism, if you are a gay male you are 80% less likely of landing the role. A lot of women I worked with within Hr openly hate men, just plain and simple. This generally comes down to a nitpicking nature most of them adopt and as mentioned in the article they love to find faults.
    I enjoy working within a role as most do with a balance of sexes, however the dominance is tipping way too far.
    Generally women believe that in corporate roles they need to fight men to survive, but clearly then this then trickles down the business to the way a lot of women recruit. HR managers and Ceo’s really need to curb this issue.
    My theory is that recruitment consultants are ruining a generation of workers, particularly gen y and also destroying the economy with the system they use to screen and reject, discriminate and dominate the industry of HR. Incorrectly hiring, damaging applicants goals for work and so on.
    Remember recruiters get paid to service candidates and the must provide service. Without them they cannot fill roles, in a candidate poor market ( low unemployment ) the tables turn.
    If you would like my advise, network, apply directly to companies, walk in and really “hunt” for work.. Your resume means not a great deal if you get in front of the right hiring manager and employ positive energetic methods of selling yourself in person. Just make sure your resume is simple and to the point. Dress well and be well groomed. Remember people only know what you tell them, so fake till you make it.
    If you are unfairly treated, make a complaint to the hiring recruiters manager and if necessary the Ceo. Always works.

  • Petrick Russell

    Thank you Dr John for your informative writing. Here I noticed some vital points that really influenced for the job recruitment. However, I would like to tell a little bit about my personal experience as I have been engaged with an organization for more than 7 years. I directly handled recruiting process. I’ve seen most of the candidate commits some silly mistake such as verbal appearance and dress code. Again, everybody telling about the confidence, but overconfidence may spoil your possibility of a specific organization.

  • dangermanumber6

    Verbal appearance?!?!? I hope that’s not grammar, because you would not be the person to judge anybody on that criteria.

  • herlod

    Spot on. The best recruiter I worked with was a mentor really. He knew what I could do and it made getting to the interview much easier. There was a trust between the hiring managers and the recruiter that gave me instant credibility. Those are the professionals and they are valuable to the process.

  • Atasi Mukherjee

    I have been trying to land a dream job for a while now however I am very qualified I have a MBA under my belt etc. Many thanks for posting this reality in these times to find an ideal job there are too many individuals applying for the same opportunity now I have a very surreal imagination how all these recruiters really do things. Now possibly after this read I hope to land an opportunity in Chicago area.