Tying Your Shoes and Writing Your Resume

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Gymnast working on PC You’ve got six seconds to grab their eye. Six seconds is the average time a recruiter will scan a resume. You’re entire professional career and chances at this position are wrapped up in that minuscule amount of time, so you better make an impression.

Recently, The Ladders conducted a study on how recruiters scan resumes. Their eye movement, eye targets and timing were all studied over a 10-week period. This study was meant to identify what recruiters zero in on and what they tend to overlook. One of the other main goals of this research was to establish if there was a difference in how recruiters scanned and absorbed the information from a professionally written resume than from a resume written by the candidates themselves.

Writing and updating a resume seems pretty common sense; we’ve been doing it all of our lives. This study brings to light some of the not so common sense aspects of resume writing. In an unsurprising turn out, the professionally written resumes were rated as showing a 60 percent improvement rate over those that were written by candidates.

Of the six seconds that recruiters spend on scanning each resume, the majority (80%) of that time is spent looking at these basics:

  • Name
  • Title and Company Name (Current and Previous)
  • Start and End Dates (Current and Previous)
  • Education

What the Professionals Do: How to get the most out of your six seconds of fame.

It is reported that the professional resumes from the study shared three main components that made them easier to read.

  • They contained less data
  • They were less cluttered
  • They displayed better formatting

Less is More. We all know the one-page rule, but that doesn’t mean one page with smaller margins, in 8-point font. By knowing what recruiters are scanning for, you can emphasize what is apparently important to them. Knowing what they spend the majority of their time looking for, gives you the benefit of proper delivery.

Cut the Clutter. No one except for your buddies care that you enjoy ice fishing. Stay relevant and cut out anything that doesn’t relate to your professional experience. Extra words and jargon have to go as well. According to this research, an impressive vocabulary and wordy resume won’t get you anywhere.

Format for Success. The easier your resume is to read, the easier it is to absorb the information. You already know what they’re looking for, give it to them and give it to them in bold. The eye loves white space. It sounds counterproductive, but leave room for some paper by cutting down on the clutter and avoiding large blocks of writing.

The resume is your first impression; it’s worth getting it right. With a little insight into the brain of recruiters, and some resume writing tips from the professionals, you can craft a resume that will make the most of its six seconds.

Here is every job seeker’s dream world:

a place where they know exactly how recruiters’ minds work;

where the reasons for hiring decisions are obvious;

where the criteria for an effective resume and job search are as clear as day.


Read more in Resume

Courtney McGann is the content creator and PR gal for Red Branch Media, an Omaha-based marketing firm. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency, primarily focused on human resources and global workforce vendors. In the past Courtney has managed online communities, professional social outlets, marketing campaigns and event planning.