• Natalie Hodge

Top Three Reasons Your Resume is Screened Out in SECONDS

Updated: Nov 10

I’ve screened thousands of resumes over the course of my professional career.


Whether on hiring committees or as the hiring manager for a position, the goal has always been to find the absolute best candidate in the shortest amount of time possible.


With most job opportunities now being housed and promoted on the World Wide Web, the number of applications for any one position has grown exponentially.


The impact is two-fold.


1. Employers get to connect with a much wider array of talent located all over the planet.


2. A staggering number of applications can bounce into the inboxes of hiring managers who are still conducting manual applicant screens.


Nothing brings me more joy and angst than the sound of my email pinging alerts in rapid succession after a position has been posted on Indeed.com. I typically screen resumes in the wee hours of the morning when no one can interrupt my flow. After years of reviewing resumes, I have a method for getting through the initial screen in less than 15 seconds. If a resume is incredible or terrible, the screen time is even less in the first round.




Here are the top three reasons I send resumes to File 13 aka the recycling bin in 15 seconds or less.



1. Not a skills match. Oftentimes, because it is so easy to hit the apply button to submit whatever materials are already on file, job seekers don’t take the time to customize resumes.


This is a huge job search mistake.


Unless you are applying for a role that has the EXACT same qualifications as the experiences you have currently listed on your resume, you should fine-tune your resume to respond to the bullet points in the job description.


By no means is this an endorsement to fictionalize experiences, but rather a strong recommendation that if you have the experience, you should include it.


2. Glaring errors. I’ve seen it all from missing dates and contact information to misspelled company names.

Nothing says, “I don’t care about landing this job,” like a resume written entirely in lowercase letters. Certainly, that makes for a memorable resume, but not one that will make it past my 15-second screening.


If you are not a great writer, no worries. Professional resume writers can be found all over the net. Friends and colleagues have shared great reports about resume writers they found on LinkedIn and Fiverr. You can also find resume writing support in your local area through the American Job Center program. Every region in your state has a center designated to provide job search and training assistance. Job seekers can use facilities and receive personalized support for free!


3. Poor construction. Being too wordy or not being descriptive enough can do you in early in a review process. I don’t want to wade through a bunch of filler text to discover an applicant’s greatness and I certainly don’t want to guess. Writing a clear, concise description of skills and experiences is of the utmost importance. Bullet points are your friends. Use them wisely to direct readers to the key information they need to know about you as a candidate. Paragraphs and/or three-word phrases are not acceptable companions to the resume bullet point.



Give yourself a fighting chance. Review your resume with fresh eyes. Have trusted friends and colleagues proof your materials.


You are sending this representative out into the world to help you secure new financial opportunities.


You won’t be the top candidate in every search. However, you can at least have the best showing possible by constructing your resume so it highlights the specifics of what makes you a match for the position.


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