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BY Fairygodboss

How to Maximize Your Chances of Surviving the 6 Second Resume Glance

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TAGS: Resume, Job search

If you’re applying for a job, you’re probably spending a lot of time updating your resume, scrubbing your social media profiles and actually searching and applying for roles. In other words, you’re focused on yourself and your job-seeker profile (in addition to searching for jobs).

While all of that is logical, it’s also a good reality check to think about what you’re doing from a recruiter’s point of view. Recruiters are some of the busiest people we’ve ever met. Their jobs are to funnel thousands of resumes down to a candidate slate of digestible size to a hiring manager, and kick off the interview process with those who’ve made it that far. In other words, there’s a reason they aren’t exactly the easiest people to reach. They are a human filter, a scheduler, a diplomat, and an interpreter of a hiring manager’s wishes, all wrapped up in one package.

Sifting through resumes or searching through candidate databases has gotten easier with technology and filtering tools, but resumes still need to ultimately be considered and reviewed. According to a 2012 study published by the job listings site, The Ladder, a recruiter spends about 6 seconds glancing at a resume before deciding which pile it goes into. The Ladders even went as far as following the eye movements of recruiters reviewing resumes with eye-tracking software to see where recruiters spent those precious 6 seconds.

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One resume expert, Christopher Fields, agrees that a resume’s “scanability” is key and suggests that a resume includes verbatim words mirroring the job description which will be more likely to stand out to a recruiter. In short, 6 seconds is just functionally long enough to form an instant impression and engage in some pattern recognition. It also explains why it’s common advice to hear that you should have multiple resumes — tailored to different job applications — even if it’s for the sake of matching some keywords.

Another recruiter, Becky Carlson, who has worked in-house as a recruiter at companies like Amazon and Microsoft says that int he 5-6 seconds they scan a resume, they are looking for “what companies they have worked at, languages they have coded in, and years of experience they have with them. Anything quickly that can set them apart….I don’t have time to get into all of the bullet points. Managers can do the digging, recruiters don’t.”

Practically, in terms of styling this means reasonably big font (no 8 points), bold font for important things like the companies where you’ve worked and intuitive, linear formatting down the left side of a page. In terms of content, look at the job description and make sure your resume’s wording matches theirs as much as possible.

Remember, a recruiter is looking to match their mandate (to fill a job by someone who has A, B and C experience) with a piece of paper with a lot of keywords that match A, B and C. When you think about it this way, it’s really not shocking or negligent to spend 5-6 seconds reviewing a resume. It certainly takes a lot longer than 5-6 seconds to decide to hire someone, but not much longer to figure out whether one should disregard resumes where A, B and C don’t exist (or are simply too hard to see).

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.

Related Community Discussions

  • I am trying to change career paths. I was laid off in Nov. 2016. I spoke with a master resume writer yesterday who recommended an entirely new resume, LinkedIn overhaul, valuation letter and summary/biography all for close to $3000. I also received a call for an interview for a part-time job, $10/hour, no benefits. Needless to say I burst into tears by the end of the day.

    I had high hope when I obtained my law degree (especially after working full-time & attending night classes). I've tried contacting the law school and my undergrad career centers but have received only nominal assistance. They both wished me luck, gave me login's to their job portals and had nothing more to suggest.

    Someone mentioned networking & I agree that is an option but here in Michigan is comes with a fee to attend events, seminars or join associations. I understand we are all trying to make money but I graduated from law school during the recession and have 6 figures in student loans. I also am running out of unemployment.

    The master resume writer explained only 15% of people get hired from online applications. Is that true? If so then why are we even bothering with an online system at all? She suggested I find the hiring manager & connect with that person. The hiring manager is sometimes 2 people deep in the company so how do I find the person who told HR that they need a person for X job?

    I've reached out to people on LinkedIn and have not gotten much response or advice. Are there any mentors or HR people that can suggest anything that is free? My mom thinks I should go back to school but with a BA and JD that I am still paying for adding to the debt with no promises that another degree will land me a job doesn't seem wise.

    I am frustrated, disheartened and angry that the process of finding a job has become so convoluted but understand why it has. I've read so many articles on LinkedIn that they conflict with one another...you need a cover letter, no you need a pain letter, don't bother you don't need these because HR won't read it. Your resume needs skills, don't list your skills, list dates, don't list dates, take off references. Which article do I believe? Adding insult to injury the unemployment agency here requires your resume to be uploaded to the talent network. Do you know what companies contacted me expressing interest in my skill-set? Tru-Green lawn care as a fertilizer sprayer and a local manufacture as a line-worker. Is that all I am capable of and are they even reading my resume?

    If there is anyone out there who can help please respond and as 1 talk-show host says everyday at the end of her show remember to "be king to one another".

  • Does anyone here work for Earnst & Young? I see their communications department is hiring for multiple roles I think I'm qualified for. I'd like to learn more "inside scoop" from a current or former employee. Also looking to learn more about how this department is structured so I can figure out which of the positions I should apply for. Don't want to apply for all of them and have it look as if I'm spamming them with my resume.

  • Any advice for someone searching for work during their first trimester of pregnancy? I currently work with a temp agency for income and am applying for my next role. From what I've read on the boards, it seems that most women are firmly established at their companies but I was forced to look for a new role outside of my former company due to a health condition. They were unwilling to move me to a different role within the company. Any suggestions on how to navigate the next 4-6 months before giving birth?

  • The previous post is a hard act to follow, but here goes: Within a week or two, I will be laid off from the ad agency where I work. Unfortunately, this is a hazard of working at an agency. If the agency loses a major client (or, as in our case, two), staff are let go. For me, this is deja vu; at my last job, also at an agency, we lost a major client and 11 staffers were laid off (including me).

    The advertising industry skews quite young. I laugh when I see a job posting for a "senior" copywriter requiring only three years of experience (I have more than 20).

    While I am seeking a permanent, full-time position either remotely or in the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey region, I am considering going freelance. I have had a freelance business on the side for decades, but never made the leap.

    So, if anyone has advice on making a living as a freelancer, let me know. Or, if you have any ideas on how to "spin" my experience in a positive way, please share. (And if you want to send a job offer my way, that's OK, too!)

  • I am highly skilled with a background in marketing management (MBA in Finace and Marketing), process improvement (Six Sigma), project management and research. I have been ranked number 3 in quality performance and recognized by a CEO for my innovativeness. I have taken serval (3) years off from the corporate environment to take care a relative that has significant chronic medical issues. I am ready to go back to work, but I have contraint. I want to be available - so I do not want to travel more than 20%. I do not want to work extreme hours - I want a balanced life. I am trying to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina, so that I can oversee my relative's care, but I realize that this may not be possible.

    Watching this health crisis unfold has taught me that I do not need to make 6 figures. I want work that makes a difference and pays well. I am not a spring chicken (59 years olds). I documents that show the quality of my work.

    Where do I find a company that will provide the mental stimulation and flexibility. I like to think, solve hard problem and significantly change companies in positive way. I like the think tank environment.

    How do I search for and find a good fit?

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How to Maximize Your Chances of Surviving the 6 Second Resume Glance

How to Maximize Your Chances of Surviving the 6 Second Resume Glance

If you’re applying for a job, you’re probably spending a lot of time updating your resume, scrubbing your social media profiles and actually s...

If you’re applying for a job, you’re probably spending a lot of time updating your resume, scrubbing your social media profiles and actually searching and applying for roles. In other words, you’re focused on yourself and your job-seeker profile (in addition to searching for jobs).

While all of that is logical, it’s also a good reality check to think about what you’re doing from a recruiter’s point of view. Recruiters are some of the busiest people we’ve ever met. Their jobs are to funnel thousands of resumes down to a candidate slate of digestible size to a hiring manager, and kick off the interview process with those who’ve made it that far. In other words, there’s a reason they aren’t exactly the easiest people to reach. They are a human filter, a scheduler, a diplomat, and an interpreter of a hiring manager’s wishes, all wrapped up in one package.

Sifting through resumes or searching through candidate databases has gotten easier with technology and filtering tools, but resumes still need to ultimately be considered and reviewed. According to a 2012 study published by the job listings site, The Ladder, a recruiter spends about 6 seconds glancing at a resume before deciding which pile it goes into. The Ladders even went as far as following the eye movements of recruiters reviewing resumes with eye-tracking software to see where recruiters spent those precious 6 seconds.

Fairygodboss

One resume expert, Christopher Fields, agrees that a resume’s “scanability” is key and suggests that a resume includes verbatim words mirroring the job description which will be more likely to stand out to a recruiter. In short, 6 seconds is just functionally long enough to form an instant impression and engage in some pattern recognition. It also explains why it’s common advice to hear that you should have multiple resumes — tailored to different job applications — even if it’s for the sake of matching some keywords.

Another recruiter, Becky Carlson, who has worked in-house as a recruiter at companies like Amazon and Microsoft says that int he 5-6 seconds they scan a resume, they are looking for “what companies they have worked at, languages they have coded in, and years of experience they have with them. Anything quickly that can set them apart….I don’t have time to get into all of the bullet points. Managers can do the digging, recruiters don’t.”

Practically, in terms of styling this means reasonably big font (no 8 points), bold font for important things like the companies where you’ve worked and intuitive, linear formatting down the left side of a page. In terms of content, look at the job description and make sure your resume’s wording matches theirs as much as possible.

Remember, a recruiter is looking to match their mandate (to fill a job by someone who has A, B and C experience) with a piece of paper with a lot of keywords that match A, B and C. When you think about it this way, it’s really not shocking or negligent to spend 5-6 seconds reviewing a resume. It certainly takes a lot longer than 5-6 seconds to decide to hire someone, but not much longer to figure out whether one should disregard resumes where A, B and C don’t exist (or are simply too hard to see).

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.

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