What Hiring Managers Want: A 2010 Survey

22 Jul

The Center for Career and Life Development at Saddleback College in Southern California recently performed the “2010 Orange County Resume Survey” by surveying over 200 hiring managers and employers on their preferences regarding resumes and cover letters. They surveyed everything from length of resumes, to cover letter preference, to disclosure of different types of information within the document.  And their findings are quite interesting!

  • 38% agree that the length of a resume simply depends upon the level of the position, while 35% say one page, and 19% say two pages.
  • 62% prefer Word document format verus 36% who prefer PDF. No one preferred html/online or .txt formats.
  • 49.4% prefer traditional chronologial (experience-focused) resume to 5.9% that prefer functional (skills-focused).
  • 67% agree you should explain employment gaps in either your work experience section or cover letter, versus 25% who think it’s okay to say nothing at all.
  • 74% prefer that you attach your resume as .doc or PDF to an email versus pasting it into the body of the message.
  • 57% cited that cover letters are either not important because they don’t have time to read them, or have no preference.  43% would like to see you include one.
  • 70% want your cover letter to be a 1/2 page or shorter.  Only 9% prefer a full page.  The other 11% don’t care.
  • 42% say that the biggest mistake on resumes is spelling and grammar, followed by 15% who find people not correctly tailoring it to fit the role or company the candidate is applying to.
  • The top three most important aspects of your resume are previous work experience (26%),qualifications & skills (22%), and making it easy to read (10%), which only slightly tops accomplishments (9%). Keywords, objective & computer skills rank lowest.
  • 98% agree that applicants with any kind of criminal history should be upfront about it to prevent issuse HR may encounter during a background check.
  • 60.7% of survey participants indicated they receive 26+ resumes for each open position.

You can read the full survey results (with visual!) here.

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2 Responses to “What Hiring Managers Want: A 2010 Survey”

  1. inspiredcoachpazen August 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Thanks for this! Interesting and thanks especially for the exec. summary. As a colleague, I’m always looking for good information.

    My only question (since I was taught to read research reviews during my masters’ degree curriculum): can we assume hiring managers in other parts of the country (and beyond) are comparable to those in Orange County, California?

    • aspyresolutionsgroup August 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      In the survey they mentioned that they did share it online via social media sites when they were conducting it, though it’s still kind of unclear whether they surveyed people outside of OC. With that in mind, I think there are standards within HR and hiring that reach across all different regions within the US, but certainly in different areas (east versus west, for instance) things like “culture fit” can mean something different. And that’s kind of an unofficial hiring term in itself. But being more general, I think where you would be likely to see the biggest difference among hiring within companies is what they consider their company culture to be like, and where they prioritize that as far as assessing candidates and how they will fit within the organization. But as far as industry standards – ethics, legal matters, processes – those things will probably be pretty similar anywhere in the country (assuming they’re following the rules!)

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