When recruiting, what is the first thing you look for in a resume?

A recent survey by the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, found that while hiring managers most want to see “directly related experience in a similar position”, 38% would also consider a career changer with the right skills that can be transferred to the position in question.

At the same time, more than half also said that they were “somewhat likely” to make an offer to a career changer.

Despite that, there are still concerns about hiring career changers which include a lack of industry experience and an inability to assimilate into the organisational culture.

However, the survey noted that these concerns are eased when career changers are able to devise a concise and sensible explanation for the change (60%), showcase specific knowledge of the industry and company (59%), doing informational interviews with individuals in the field or company (30%), and taking relevant coursework (27 percent).

When looking at mid- to senior-level career changers, 45% of hiring managers felt that it is most important that these candidates show that they can learn new skills and information quickly.

In terms of how candidates’ skills are evaluated, 73% of hiring managers prefer a conversational interview format. During the conversation, half of respondents have a specific set of criteria to use and 48% create a standard set of questions to ask all candidates for a given position.

Almost four in ten revealed that they engage in pre-employment testing, and surprisingly, only 13% of respondents review candidates’ social media profiles.

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So what do hiring managers typically look out for during these interviews?

Just under two thirds of respondents are looking to hire people who have the willingness to gain the right experience and develop job skills.

At the same time, 51% look to hire those with appropriate education and 46% cited strong interviewing skills as important for candidates. Interestingly, only a third felt that strong references were essential.

The survey also found that hiring managers prefer attitude over skill, especially when personal ethics comes into the question, with integrity ranked as the most important trait they look out for at any level. Hiring managers were also found to prefer candidates who can demonstrate adaptability and flexibility.

Surprisingly, despite the trend towards globalisation and remote working, most hiring managers prefer their prospective employees to live locally.

Slightly more than a quarter will only relocate people if a suitable local candidate can’t be found, 40% don’t relocate at all while only 31% hire and relocate regularly.

“During the recession and immediate post-recession years, the Job Preparedness Indicator survey pointed toward a trend of hiring managers wanting ‘the world’ of candidates, with extremely high expectations from the start,” said Alexandra Levit, business and workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member.

“Although the economy has improved since then and it’s less of a hiring manager’s market, expectations of job seekers remain fairly consistent.”

Image: Shutterstock

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