3 Tips for Speed Reading Resumes

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g. you@yourcompany.com)
Please enter your work email
(e.g. you@yourcompany.com)

drowning in paperwork Resume sifting can be a laborious and time consuming process, but its vital that it is done in an effective and efficient way. One way to do this is to use an applicant tracking system with powerful semantic keyword searching technology to automatically sift through hundreds of resumes and rank and short-list them according to how well they match the role. Of course, many successful smaller employers and some recruiters continue to hand sift resumes and for them there is a huge premium on sifting speed and their ability to speed read because if done well it can save employer’s considerable time. So, below I have outlined 3 techniques to help employers more effectively speed read resumes.

1.  6 Second Scan on 6 Key Data Points

The Ladders conducted a fascinating study last year where they monitored the eye movements of 30 professional recruiters over 10 weeks using eye tracking technology to see what areas of a resume recruiters focus on to make their initial fit/no fit decision. They found that the recruiters spent 80% of their time looking at 6 data points, which were: Name, Current title/company, Previous title/company. Previous position start and end dates. Current Position start and end dates, Education.They also discovered that these recruiters took an average of 6 seconds to make their initial fit/no fit decision based on these data points. This seems like an effective and tried and tested way to speed read resumes for the initial scan. Why not give it a go, if you are not doing so already?

2.  Eliminate sub-vocalization through ‘tracking and pacing’

Sub-vocalization is where you speak or pronounce each word in your head while reading, (some people speak under their breath or move their lips sympathetically). When you are sub-vocalizing you are hearing the word being spoken in your mind. People who sub vocalize can only read up to 250-300 words a minute while speed readers who have eliminated sub-vocalization can read up to 700 words a minute, which could halve your resume sifting time. One tip for reading faster and eliminating sub-vocalization is to read text in the resume by following your finger line by line at a speed which is faster than you read normally. (I tried this and it worked for me). The name for this technique is ‘tracking and pacing’. This probably works better for the second sift of the resumes when you are looking at them in more detail. You can learn all about eliminating sub-vocalization at this link.

3.  Perceptual Expansion – use your peripheral vision

This probably works best for the profile sections and employment section of the resume, where you are reading sentences. This approach is about training your peripheral vision . For example, if you look at the middle of a passage of text you can still register the text at the sides. If you can train your peripheral vision to read text more effectively you can increase your reading speed by up to 300%. You can read all about the peripheral expansion technique here.

And finally, its much harder to concentrate when there are other auditory distractions in the room such as a TV, radio, phone calls, conversation etc…, so take yourself to a quiet space to improve your concentration and further enhance your speed reading of resumes. I would be fascinated to hear some more techniques that you use for resume speed reading.

By Kazim Ladimeji