Survey: Recruiters Answer Burning Resume Questions

Stresses of the job search often include, and indeed begin with, questions about the resume. Is it too long? Should I include work experience from my college days, former salary, or LinkedIn profile?
With so much conflicting advice, it can be difficult to know where to begin, but a new survey of those making the hiring decisions may provide some much-needed insight.

The survey, conducted among more than 150 recruiters nationwide by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., found that the majority want to see a candidate’s entire professional experience. This belies the common misperception that employers are only interested in your most recent work experience.

In the survey, two-thirds of recruiters said job seekers should include all work history, with many suggesting that missing information suggests that the job seeker may be attempting to hide something.
Another 25 percent felt that up to 20 years of job history should be included, while 9.4 percent said up to 10 years.

Headhunters admit that providing all that information may take more than the traditionally expected one page resume. On the matter of resume length, respondents indicated that most application tracking systems utilize keywords, thus making length a non-issue.

The myth that a resume should be contained to one page was shattered by the Challenger survey, in which none of the respondents said resumes should be no more than a page.

However, while resume length may be less of an issue in today’s technology-aided recruiting environment, more than two-thirds still felt that most people’s experience could be summed up in two pages.

Meanwhile, about 18 percent said the resume should be as long as necessary to list all the candidate’s accomplishments

“Above all, job seekers need to include work history relevant to the jobs for which they are applying. Early or impertinent information should be included, but can be brief. The main reason to include all work history is that hiring authorities want to see a clear timeline of your professional experience,” offered John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas and job search expert.

Respondents were evenly split on whether to include previous salary figures on resumes to recruiters. Just over 50 percent felt it was always useful when matching candidates to positions or found utility in the figure in some cases. Another 9.1 percent said including it would price candidates out of positions, and 33.3 percent believed it should never be included.

“Job applications typically ask for previous salary information anyway, so it was surprising to see that many recruiters do not want job seekers to include it on the resume. However, the question of salary will almost always come up in either the initial phone screening or the in-person interview.

“While it may be tricky to navigate and job seekers should absolutely not lie about their previous salaries, they can give a range of what is acceptable to them, based on market research from sites like Payscale.com, Salary.com, or Glassdoor.com. Job seekers need to be savvy enough to research what their job positions are worth for their region and industry,” said Challenger.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said candidates should include their LinkedIn URLs on their resumes. Of the remainder who felt it they were unnecessary, one recruiter stated that they and their clients do not have time to read through them, and therefore, it would serve no purpose to include it.

“The biggest takeaway from this survey was that job seekers need to have a clear, concise chronology of their professional lives highlighting relevant experiences and accomplishments. This timeline will give hiring authorities and recruiters a strong picture of exactly what kind of employee you will be.”