Your resume has 6 seconds to impress, study says

According an eye-tracking study, recruiters spend seconds before they decide to toss or keep your resume for consideration. Here’s what they will look at during those few critical moments.

Recruiters only spend about 6 seconds reviewing a candidate’s résumé to determine whether the person is a potential fit for a position, a recent study (pdf) by TheLadders says.

Compare that with the 4-5 minutes per résumé that recruiters have self-reported in the past.

TheLadders’ report was based on data from an eye-tracking study of 30 professional recruiters who were monitored over a 10-week period as they performed online tasks, including reviewing résumés and candidate profiles.

Below are key findings from the study:

What recruiters look for on résumés

The recruiters in the study spent almost 80 percent of their résumé review time on the following elements:

  • The candidate’s name.
  • The candidate’s current title/company.
  • The candidate’s previous title/company.
  • The start and end dates of the candidate’s previous position.
  • The start and end dates of the candidate’s current position.
  • The candidate’s education.

Beyond those six elements, recruiters did little more than scan for keywords to match the open positions.

Because the recruiters primarily based their fit/no-fit decisions on those six pieces of data, each résumé’s detail and explanatory copy had little impact on the initial decision-making.

How recruiters view résumés and online profiles

Recruiters tend to follow a consistent visual path when they review both résumés and online profiles, the study found. It’s crucial that your résumé has an organized layout.

On a scale of one to seven, recruiters gave professionally rewritten résumés an average usability rating of 6.2, compared with a 3.9 rating before the rewrite.

On LinkedIn profiles, recruiters spent about 19 percent of their time looking at the profile pictures.

A version of this article originally appeared on Marketing Profs.

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