Stack of ResumesAccording to research done by TheLadders a recruiter or hiring manager spends an average of 6 seconds scanning a resume.  In these 6 seconds, they decide on whether the candidate is worthy of a potential interview.  Will your resume get you noticed in those crucial 6 seconds?   In a previous blog entry, Tips for Writing A Winning Resume, we discussed what makes up a winning resume.  Now we’ll focus on taking your resume development further to get you noticed in those critical 6 seconds.

So is the 6 seconds figure real or an urban myth?  It’s actually a real number based on actual research.  TheLadders performed a quantitative study of recruiter and hiring manager behavior as they reviewed resumes.  They tracked eye movement to analyze what areas of the resume recruiters focused on and what resume elements grabbed their attention.  The study also included and analyzed the scanning of online profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and TheLadders.  The study can be found on TheLadders at Keeping An Eye On Recruiter Behavior.

So where do you begin?  The study by the TheLadders found that 80% of the review time was spent on 6 resume elements:  name; current position; title/company; current position start/end dates; previous position title/company; previous position start/end dates; and education.   Organization and formatting of this information is critical to ensure that the resume is visible and easy to review. Strategic use of headers, fonts and spacing are key elements in effective formatting.

An article on Ivy Exec, What Really Happens When Recruiters Read Your Resume (and how to make sure you pass the test), examines the 6 second review second by second and provides tips on focus areas.   Most candidates rely on paragraphs and extensive bullet points which can quickly challenge the structure and readability of a resume.  The Ivy Exec article suggests using bullet points only and foregoing paragraphs to increase readability.  However, make sure your bullet points are targeted with no extraneous or filler information.  It is important to only provide key or relevant points of information using quantitative accomplishments when possible.

So what else are recruiters looking for during this 6 second review?  An article, This Is Exactly What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Look For When Scanning Resumes by Amy Elisa Jackson on GlassDoor interviewed recruiters to see exactly what they look for in a resume.  Once again clean and simple formatting is emphasized.  Other items of note included relevancy of content, work history, business impact and online profiles.

A simple search will lead to hundreds of articles on the 6 second review.  and the majority of these articles focuses on ensuring the resume has a clean and simple format, is easily readable and that key points are relevant and easy to understand.

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Can Your Resume Pass The 6 Second Test?