Article creator image

BY Fairygodboss

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


Photo credit: Creative Commons

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.


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 is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.

You May Also Like

Related Community Discussions

  • Hi. I have been an Executive Assistant, or some other assistant/operations person for over 30 years. After losing my job of many years due to restructuring, I am looking for a permanent position. I feel as though assistant positions are on the way out, given anecdotal evidence by other assistants as well as executives I've spoken to. Please note that I am in pursuit of my bachelor's, but it is not yet completed. Apparently 30 years of experience doesn't mean anything if I don't have a degree. I've been told that it is recognized that I am intelligent and eager to learn pretty much anything (as well as easy to work with) so do not pigeon-hole myself into going after assistant roles, but I don't know what else I should look into or other keywords to use when searching for positions. Does anyone have any guidance on what kinds of jobs are out there?

  • Hello,
    I have worked for 6.8 years in Financial sector ( Stock Exchange and a Bank). I had to quit my job in bank and relocate to another country because of my marriage. It's been two years now that I am unable to find a job in this country in banking or finance. Honestly, there is a part of me who does not want to get into numbers anymore. Throughout my career, customer service was my strength. I love talking to people, solving their problems, it makes me happy. Now I am stuck at home. I need to be financially independent but at the same time I need to find the right career for me. Kindly guide what all career opportunities I can explore after banking with a post graduation diploma in Banking. And how can I get into Hospitality Industry? Thanks.

  • Hi - I recently left my job and became pregnant. I am 12 weeks pregnant and job hunting. Its possible that I will have a couple of job offers in the next month. At what point in the interview/offer process do I tell an employer that I'm pregnant? Are there companies that will hold my job during maternity leave even though I won't qualify for FMLA? I'm also concerned with affecting a new relationship with an employer by revealing that I will be going on leave in six months. Has anyone else experienced this? Looking for facts and words of encouragement!

  • 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 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".

  • I am feeling very frustrated & disheartened & hoping someone can offer some advice. I have been laid off since November (still). I had a free consultation call with a master resume writer who said I need to overhaul my LinkedIn profile, my resume, do a biography to summarize my education/work so I can switch industries. She also recommended a valuation letter all for close to $3000. She explained that only 15% of people applying online ever land the job which is a dismal reality I seem to be a part of.

    Apparently, I need to find the hiring manager for any posted job I am interested in & connect with that person. Ok great--but sometimes that person is 2 levels deep in a company so how do I go about that? Rarely is the hiring manager the person posting the job or receiving the resume. My unemployment is running out, I am still paying law school loans & cannot justify paying close to $3000 at this time for a resume/brand overhaul that may or may not work. I was contacted for a part-time job as a travel clerk for $10/hour with no benefits. Is this where we are now in the employment arena? If so why would anyone who sees my struggles want to get a college education?

    My mom is suggesting I return to school but since I've reached 6 figures in student loans for my law degree I don't see any value to adding another degree. I know networking is the best route but here in Michigan networking consists of paying to attend an association's seminar, workshop, etc... I know there is going to be some who think that the investment in the resume/brand, seminars, events, etc... will pay off but there are some, like me, who are still struggling to get on their feet from the recession fall-out. Are there any suggestions or mentors who can suggest a website or group where mentors are able to help for free? Like a certain talk-show host says at the end of her show...."Be kind to one another".

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously