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    EOL Coverage of Chefs Championships at IHMRS

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    Preparing Lobster for Competition

The Receiving End:
What Recruiters & Hiring Officials Really Want

by Tracy Laswell Williams

A survey of HR managers and recruiters on resumes and related issues

As the moderator of an HR / Recruiter Panel Discussion at the 1999 Professional Association of Resume Writers’ convention, I learned that professional resume consultants, just like job seekers have plenty of questions than ever when it comes to the “receiving end” of our finely crafted job search documents.

As a follow-up to this informative discussion, I decided to survey yet another panel of experts. In November of 1999, I e-mailed a group of 40 hiring officials with ten key questions. Respondents included recruiters and private HR consultants, as well as HR managers representing the financial industry, the computer/engineering/technical recruiting fields, a regional public utilities provider, a major marketing firm, and a mountain ski resort.

Important Disclaimer ~ please note: hiring an employee is a highly complex human event with a great deal of variability from one case to the next. What works for one individual, corporate culture, industry, and geographic location may not work for another. The opinions offered by this small sample of hiring officials are not meant to represent the “one right way” of doing things. Instead, think of this survey as a learning tool, and continue to ask questions throughout each job search you conduct to gauge the effectiveness of various techniques.

Here are the results of the survey (totals of more than 100% indicate multiple answers).

1.Preferred length of a resume:
a) one page 20%
b) two pages 30%
c) depends on level of the position 60%
d) no preference 0%

Specific comments from respondents:

“One or two pages is fine, but no longer.”
“Two pages, but can be longer if the third page is a skill summary, appendix, or something other than pure text.”

Conclusion: It depends, but most would like the resume to be kept to two pages. Note: I assumed in the case of answer c that a higher-level position indicated a more in-depth resume. None of the respondents queried me on this, so I’m going to keep assuming that.

2. Resume Style/Format:
a) traditional "reverse chronological" listing of jobs without an objective or summary 40%
b) functional “skills-based” presentation with jobs listed briefly 10%
c) some combination of the above 50%
d) no preference 0%

Conclusion: The functional approach is out. Most hiring officials like a combination or traditional approach.

3. Resume Paper:
a) white paper only 50%
b) scannable only 20%
c) pastels (cream/grey) 0%
d) no preference 40%

Conclusion: No one seems to care much about paper. Save yourself some money.

4. Preferred method of receiving resumes:
a) by US mail 10%
b) by e-mail (Word attachment) 60%
c) by e-mail (text in e-mail message body) 20%
d) by fax 10%
e) no preference 20%

Conclusion: Although most respondents say they like resumes by e-mail, it’s probably still a good idea to ask which file format is preferred. Save your stamps!

5. Cover letters:
a) no cover letter necessary 20%
b) personalized cover letters only 60%
c) form letters acceptable 20%
d) no preference 10%

Specific comments:
“I like to read cover letters, and in general, don’t receive many. I don’t care if it is a form letter, as long as it is not OBVIOUS that it is a form letter. “Dear Sir” is not very smart…”

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