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Rejecting Job Candidates: How Long Do You Really Need?

When a job candidate applies for a job he or she has several opportunities to be rejected.  resume stackFirst they might be rejected by the applicant tracking system, within seconds I might add, simply because the program can’t find within the candidate’s resume, keywords related to the job for which the candidate is applying.

A candidate’s resume may be rejected by a human, again within seconds, because the human has already has an idea of what they want to see in a candidate resume.  A recent survey conducted by Careerbuilder of over 2,200 hiring managers showed that 68% review a candidate’s resume for only two minutes or less.  Seventeen percent spent thirty seconds or less evaluating it.

Is this a problem?  Are hiring managers and HR professionals heartless people for not spending 120 seconds and more reviewing a resume?  I don’t think they view themselves that way.  So why does Careerbuilder’s survey point out the little time spent reviewing resumes as though it is a big deal?  Because I suppose to the job candidate, having someone dismiss within thirty seconds their resume, a representation of all their years’ hard work in school and in their career, is a bit disheartening.

C’mon though, how long do you really need to reject someone?  Forty-nine percent of hiring managers reject job candidates within the first five minutes of meeting them for a face-to-face interview.  Again this is supposedly another startling statistic, but one about which we really shouldn’t be surprised.

I have reviewed thousands of resumes and profiles on job boards and Linkedin.  I rarely need more than sixty seconds to make a decision.  I may not know exactly if the ones I choose are a right fit yet.  Plenty of other screening measures such as video interviewing and the face-to-face interview can weed them out later.  I do however usually know who I don’t like.  Yes of course good candidates will fall through the cracks but spending an extra two or three minutes that I don’t have reviewing their resume won’t alter my decision.  Within sixty seconds I can tell if a job candidate has too much, too little or just the right amount of experience.  Within sixty seconds I can determine if the candidate has had too many jobs and poses a flight risk to the hiring company.  Within sixty seconds I can tell if the candidate isn’t located in the right part of the country.

At the start of a relationship you may not know if the person smiling in front of you is your future spouse, but you will definitely know, despite all their lifelong accomplishments, that they aren’t.

When you think about it, what golden nuggets of information do candidates put into their resume that can’t be discovered within two minutes?  I don’t care if you are hard working, think outside the box or are dynamic.  I can skip right to your work history and determine if I don’t want to get hitched to you.

I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Job Candidate but while many in the business may pretend to be all broken up over dismissing your resume, most just don’t have time to be.  Honestly, how long does it take you to decide if you want to work for someone?

About The Author

Ryder Cullison

Ryder has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4 he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter: @hireintelligent and @cullison1

One Response to “Rejecting Job Candidates: How Long Do You Really Need?”

  1. July 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Recruiting is a biased task and it’s very hard to stay objective when we are talking about recruitment. From my point of view, it’s important to make sure that the recruiting process is done in a way that minimizes first-impression judgment calls because this will help you finding the best candidates. I’ve never calculated how many seconds I review a resume but I have to admit that I trust my gut in almost 80% of my choices.

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