Resume Tip Tuesday: The 6-Second Test

Posted January 28, 2014

Welcome to Resume Tip Tuesday! Come to CareerBliss every Tuesday for a brand new resume tip to help you in your job search! Check out the archive for resume tips galore! 


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You might spend hours, days or even weeks (shout out to perfectionists) on your resume to try and fix every minute detail.

Unfortunately, recruiters and hiring managers spend a ridiculously small fraction of that time to actually look at your resume. “Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening,” according to Dr. John Sullivan, HR expert on ERE.

Because of the high volume, employers spend a mere six seconds per resume, to be exact, according to a study by The Ladders. The folks at The Ladders studied 30 recruiters for 10 weeks and used cool eyetracking technology to monitor what recruiters really see when they sift through resumes to fill great jobs.

Make sure you don’t fumble on the most basic, organizational aspect of your resume. It’s the first bar to clear before you can start presenting your amazing portfolio, achievements and more to the hiring manager.

Recruiters Only Look at the Basics—So Keep it Very Clean and Minimal

Recruiters are largely interested in how well you fit into the technical requirements. “The study’s ‘gaze tracking’ technology in the Ladders’ study showed that recruiters spent almost 80 percent of their resume review time on the following data points:

  • Name (easy).
  • Previous job title, company, start and end dates
  • Current job title, company, start and end dates

These basics should be extremely easy to scan.

Keep the Basic Minimal, Clean, Balanced with a Little White Space

Organization is the key to readability.

There should be an easy-to-follow hierarchy of your work history. Job titles always go on the left. The company name goes directly under the job title. Dates always go on the right. Your name and title should be in the biggest font. Keep everything balanced and broken up into digestible pieces of text.

Recruiters and hiring managers automatically shift their eyes to look for the expected info. If it’s a little too cluttered, they might lose interest.

“Any big blocks of texts aren’t read whatsoever,” Will Evans, Head of User Experience at TheLadders, tells Co.Design.

Hand your resume to a friend or relative and ask them to look at it. Six seconds later, ask them what they remember from your resume. If they weren’t able to clearly articulate your roles, dates and keywords, you’ll need to reorganize your resume for clarity!

photo of The CareerBliss Team

The CareerBliss Team

CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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