The 30 Second Scan - An Employer's Perspective

Carla Vaughan

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If you have been in a job-search for very long at all, you have most likely read that employers do not read resumes, they scan them.

Do you think a 30-second scan is ridiculous? When you consider how important filling a vacant position must be to an employer, that isn’t a very long amount of time, is it? Why wouldn’t an employer want to read EVERY resume to make sure they were hiring the right person for the job? Surely there is no way to properly get a feel for someone in 30 seconds.

Well, think about it from a hiring manager’s point of view.

The day starts at 7:00am with a bang – the phone rings, there are email messages to answer and a meeting with marketing at 8:00am to go over the recently vacated Brand Manager’s position.

From there, a round of interviews for an opening in the executive suite for an Administrative Assistant have to be performed with little or no time to review the resumes prior to interviewing each candidate.

Next thing you know, it is lunch time, but hey, there is no time for that since a meeting with Benefits Administrator is next on the schedule and the recent changes in the medical plan have caused a lot of headaches in trying to recruit new sales associates.

After that shouting match, it is time to check the latest HR new hire reports to set up the next round of orientation meetings as they are supposed to take place every 2 weeks and it is already a week past that.

A 2:30pm phone call to the HR assistant who handles the orientations leads to a dozen more phone calls to get the conference room scheduled as no one wants to give up their time slot for anyone else.

It is nearly 4:00pm. A quick trip to the restroom ends up taking an hour as the recently hired Sales Director pauses to lash out about the medical benefit changes which were not a part of the original employment agreement.

The final meeting of the day consists of all HR managers discussing, usually all at one time, the impending acquisition of a new company.

Before driving home, a 4 inch stack of resumes are stuffed into a briefcase to be reviewed at home after the children are in bed.

Now, does a 30-second scan seem a little more reasonable?

Yes, filling vacant positions is important. It is extremely important. One of the most serious errors a hiring manager can make is bringing someone into the organization who is not qualified for the position they are hired for – OR – they do not fit with the corporate culture. Every new hire reflects on the hiring manager – good or bad.

Realistically, if time permitted, resumes WOULD be reviewed more thoroughly, but it simply isn’t possible for most hiring managers.

Something else that is important to point out is the fact that most job candidates make it pretty easy to go through that 30 second scan. There simply are not that many job seekers who take the time to ensure their resumes are error-free. It is truly easy to eliminate 50% or more of the resumes in that 30 second scan.

If you want to master the job-search process, you have to make sure you make it past that 30 second scan. Proofread your resume again and again. Do not give the employer a reason to eliminate you right away. Once you are past that 30 second scan, your resume will likely get a better review. At that point, you will enter a whole new arena of resume issues (which will not be addressed at this time).

Your goal is to get past the 30 second scan. Go proofread your resume!

Carla Vaughan is the owner of, a web site devoted to assisting candidates in the job-search process. She holds a B. Business from Southern Illinois University and has authored a book titled, “The Do-It-Yourself Resume Kit” soon to be available on her site.
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