"When recruiters look through a stack of resumes for candidate screening, what is the vital information they focus upon?"
It's a great question. Quora user Ambra Benjamin, engineering recruiter at Facebook, (and previously LivingSocial, Google and Expedia), had a lot of great advice in her response.
But I talked to our own Project Directors to get a second take - because as great as Ambra's answers are, they seemed specific to the tech world. As one of them put it:
"This article is like reading what a person in the restaurant industry evaluates. If I were in her shoes, I would probably say the same things. But for our market (DC Metro -- and the industries here) -- this article isn't very relevant."
The general job market is more buttoned up than the tech industry, and the DC market often even more so. So as great as Ambra's answers may seem, consensus among our team is that much of her advice should be taken with a grain of salt. (Unless you're in the tech industry, in which case she's probably pretty spot-on.)
Yet there are a few things that rang true:
You have very little time to convince a recruiter or hiring manager to take a deeper 2nd look. 3-5 seconds is not unusual, anything more is generous.
Overall experience: A career progression is always a good thing, no one wants to see someone who has made a career of treading water.
Gaps: Completely fine -- as long as there's a sufficient explanation.
Overall Organization: Everyone's Resume Advice 101. Your resume needs to be perfect. Everyone who reads a resume will nitpick your spelling and grammar, and ignore you if your resume is too difficult to read. It's the easiest thing to fix and a big red flag if you don't.
Objective statements: Don't bother.
Cover Letters: Mostly hated. Put your effort into the resume instead.
Mailing, faxing or hand-delivering paper resumes: It's 2014. Paper resumes are seen as weird. Just send an email. (Or use the company's online portal.)