Global Hiring Survey Includes a Few Surprises

By Toni Vranjes

August 29, 2012

As you’re diligently crafting your resume and writing cover letters, you might wonder if you should always follow the “rules” of job seeking.

Well, as it turns out, some of the “rules” aren’t even based on fact, but rather on rumor and folklore. That was the one of the messages from the 2012 Global Hiring Trends survey (PDF file), which examined the views of hiring authorities around the world. Career Directors International (CDI) conducted the survey to clear up confusion about hiring decisions, says President Laura DeCarlo. The group also wanted to examine new trends, such as charts and graphs, video resumes, and QR codes.

For the project, CDI surveyed recruiters, human-resources professionals, business owners, and others. The group received 131 responses.

Some of the key findings:

  • Length of Resume. The survey challenged traditional beliefs about the need for a one-page resume. For executive resumes, only 6 percent of respondents indicated that one page was the preferred length. For non-executive jobs, only 21 percent prefer a one-page resume.
  • Resume Format. As expected, Microsoft Word was the most popular format for resumes. The survey found that 49 percent of respondents prefer Microsoft Word, while 23 percent favor the PDF format.
  • Visual Aids: The survey also examined the relatively recent trend of using charts and graphs on a resume. While 33 percent of respondents said they hadn’t received a resume with a chart or graph, 22 percent consider them to be distracting, 19 percent said they are sometimes helpful, and 5 percent said they are helpful. (A cautionary note: one respondent noted that these types of graphics don’t scan into the applicant tracking system. With this issue in mind, CDI advises job seekers to also include the data in the text body of the resume).
  • Video Resumes. When asked whether they would review a video resume, 28 percent of respondents said they had never received a video resume, and 25 percent replied that they wouldn’t be willing to review one. However, 13 percent said they are willing, and 20 percent said maybe.
  • QR Codes. Yet another question: “When you receive a QR code on a resume, do you scan it?” The findings: 37 percent replied that they haven’t received a resume with a QR code, nearly 22 percent said no, and 14 percent said they don’t know what a QR code is. Only 5 percent replied yes.

A key message for job seekers: not all hiring authorities have the same preferences. For that reason, DeCarlo urges job seekers to avoid falling into the trap of how something “must always” be done.

The findings on video resumes and QR codes are good examples. DeCarlo notes that there is an audience for these cutting-edge approaches, no matter how small. Some hiring authorities might be impressed by these strategies, while others might not — so ultimately, it depends on whether the job seeker is comfortable using them.

Resumes are custom marketing tools, she emphasizes.

“Just like two different companies in one industry will have different brands and marketing campaigns, so will job seekers act as individuals, but while conforming to certain expected standards,” DeCarlo says.

“Please – if an employer, recruiter, or university placement office says, ‘We will only accept your resume if you do X, Y, and Z,’ then by all means do that!” she adds. “However, that does not mean the job seeker should buy into the fact that this is how they should always sell themselves.”

In my view, the survey has some useful lessons for job seekers. While it’s important to focus on technical issues — such as optimizing resumes for applicant-tracking systems — also try to inject some creativity and vitality into your job-search documents.

There’s no monolithic group of recruiters and hiring managers out there. Rather, there are many individual recruiters and hiring managers — with different tastes and preferences. So be sure to critically evaluate all job-search tips (including the ones on this site!), and figure out what makes sense and works best for your situation.

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