Job Search Checklist #6: Resume response rate

Aug 20 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Recruiters by Phil Rosenberg

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Next step on your job search checklist … learn how to calculate and evaluate your resume response rate.

Your resume response rate measures the effectiveness of your resume and job search. When your resume response rate is low, few employers are responding to your resume … so you’re not getting many interviews.

Your resume response rate is also the feedback you’re missing, if you’re only getting feedback from friends and from those who do interview you. If you really want to improve your job search, you need to get feedback from employers who rejected your resume. Don’t expect employers to jump at the chance to call or email you to tell you why your resume wasn’t even seen by human eyes.

Instead, the feedback you get from employers who declined to interview you and the employers who didn’t even see your resume at all (because it was stuck in the employer’s ATS) … that’s the feedback you get from your resume response rate.

If you’re not consistently generating a few interview invitations each week, learning more about your resume response rate is critical – in order to improve a metric, you’ve got to understand it first.

Resume Response Rate Defined:

Your resume response rate is the best measure of the effectiveness of your job search. It’s also some of the most valuable feedback you’ll get about how well your job search is really working.

To get to the level of interviews you’re used to in past job searches, you’ll need a resume response rate of 15 – 20%. That’s the kind of response you enjoyed when there were candidate shortages, instead of job shortages … pre-2007.

At a 15% – 20% resume response rate, when your job search is in full swing, you’ll generate a few invitations to interview weekly – face to face with a hiring manager. That’s in addition to HR, phone, recruiter and informational interviews.

Calculate Your Resume Response Rate:

Start with the number of face to face interviews you’ve had with a hiring manager. This means you’re face to face (not over the phone), you’re meeting with the hiring manager and the hiring manager is empowered to hire for a job you’re interested in. The empowered to hire is the most difficult but most important determination to make – if the hiring job hasn’t yet been approved, the hiring manager may be interviewing just to do salary research for a job that may not be approved for a year … or may never be approved.

Make sure to count each employer even once, even if you’ve interviewed with multiple people or for multiple jobs. Counting each company more than once inflates your measurement.

You calculate your resume response rate after you’ve subtracted the preliminary steps that many job seekers use to inflate their results. While valuable, the following are preliminary steps that don’t lead to bona-fide opportunities by themselves – an additional step must be taken for any of these preliminary steps to result in an opportunity: HR interviews, phone interviews, recruiter interviews and informational interviews. Each of these steps is still part of the pre-screening process to determine the candidates who get a “real” interview and the step needed to gain job opportunities – a face to face job interview with the hiring manager.

Resume Response Rate Formula:

  1. Start with the number of face to face job interviews you’ve had with a hiring manager. Make sure that for each one you count, the hiring manager is empowered to hire the job you’re interviewing for.
  2. Count each employer once – even if you’ve interviewed with multiple hiring managers for multiple jobs … count each only once. No cheating!
  3. Subtract preliminary steps:
    • HR interviews
    • Phone interviews
    • Recruiter interviews
    • Informational interviews
  4. Divide the total of face to face job interviews with a hiring manager minus preliminary steps by:
  5. Total number of resumes sent

  6. The result is your resume response rate.

Analyze Your Resume Response Rate:

I’ve surveyed tens of thousands of job search candidates about their resume response rates. You can use the average 1.5% – 2% of the tens of thousands to gauge your own resume response rates against. The typical range is 0% – 5%.

However, there’s another gauge for your resume response rate. Junk mail gets an average response rate of 2%. What do you do with junk mail? Most of us throw it out or ignore it.

So if you’re resume response rate is anywhere close to 2%, you’ve got problems because your audience is ignoring or discarding your resume.

You can use this scale to evaluate your resume response rate:

0% – 1% – Your job search is failing – junk mail is twice as effective.
1% – 2% – Your job search is in trouble – most of your audience is ignoring or discarding your resume.
2% – 3% – Your job search has vast opportunities for improvement.
3% – 4% – You are losing opportunities you shouldn’t lose.
4% – 5% – You can at least double or triple your resume response rate.

Double Your Resume Response Rate

Want to learn how to double your interviews and resume response rate? Join me for our next Resume Revolution! webinar (register at where I’ll teach you 9 steps to double your interviews.


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

To attend our next complimentary live webinar featuring action items to double your resume response rate and number of interviews, plus live career Q&A with Phil Rosenberg of reCareered, register at .

Available Now On Amazon: Job Search Secrets - Rethink Your Job Search Now, By Phil Rosenberg

Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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