How Long Do Recruiters Spend Looking At Your Resume?
Have you heard about the “infamous” six-second resume scan? Thanks to some “gurus,” job seekers swear by it and believe that recruiters only take six seconds to breeze through a resume before putting on their decision-making hats. (Autocorrect stopped us from calling it a six-second resume scam!)
Six-second resume scan – It’s a popular belief among job seekers that recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing a resume before making a decision.
But is there any truth to this commonly accepted notion?
In my quest to uncover the truth, I conducted several tests to understand how recruiters review resumes. Some time ago, I tried to find out the source of this myth, and you can read all about this here “Six Second Resume Myth.”
Oh, the irony! The company that created the infamous six-second myth spilled the beans and revealed that the actual time is 7.4 seconds (as of 2020). But trusting a “resume services” company that spreads these tall tales is a bit tricky. And I am not talking about articles and books promoting 7-second CV, 8-second CV etc.
This myth still survives because it works. Job seekers are scared that their resume is not good enough to beat some unknown enemy, which is why various resume services have applied this “study” to persuade job seekers to invest in their resume templates and assistance to gain an advantage. However, these resume templates cannot beat anything because resume bots do not exist. (How ATS Bots Could Reject Your Resume and Job Application)
The Test: Time Spent Evaluating Resumes
The results below are from the second part of the test I conducted this year. If you are interested to learn more about the first part of this test, you can check “A Closer Look at How Recruiters Find Top Talent.”
My experiment consisted of presenting three different resumes to 114 professional recruiters and timing how long it took them to evaluate each one.
On the first page, every recruiter was presented with the job description. They were shown the resume on the second page and asked to provide feedback on the third page. By tracking only the second page, I gained a deeper understanding of the time recruiters needed to review a resume. Additionally, tools like Microsoft Clarity provided valuable insights into their resume-reading patterns.
Unaware that I was timing them, the participants of this test unknowingly contributed to the accuracy of the data collected.
“Six Resume Test” Results
Let’s examine the results: the first resume was assessed in an average of 27 seconds, the second in 17 seconds, and the third in 46 seconds. I also checked the shortest time a recruiter spent on a profile: 12 seconds (the second resume, as it was the shortest), and the longest time spent on a resume was 2 minutes and 27 seconds, which was the last resume, as it was the longest one.
These results clearly debunk the six-second resume scan myth, exposing it as nothing more than a “clever” marketing ploy.
Over the years, I have discussed this with hundreds of recruiters, and in reality, recruiters invest considerably more time thoroughly evaluating a candidate’s resume. The six-second myth is just that – a myth.
It’s effective because when candidates hear that recruiters spend an average of 17 seconds reviewing a resume, they won’t feel the urgency to acquire an “ATS-proof resume template.” However, if they hear that it’s only six seconds, they want to gain any advantage they can, which is why this myth still exists and is widely used.
While it is true that some recruiters may spend only a few seconds glancing at a resume, many others take a much more in-depth approach to ensure that they are selecting the right candidate for the job.
Therefore, it is important to create a well-written resume that showcases your relevant experience, accomplishments, and qualifications.
If you still believe this six-second myth, try “The 6-Second Resume Challenge” to better understand how quickly the six seconds are gone.
Factors Influencing the Time Spent on Resumes
It is important to recognize that recruiters do not always spend the same amount of time evaluating each resume. Each recruiter has a unique approach: some recruiters may reject candidates based on their last two job titles if they are not fit for the role they applied for. And if a candidate is not a good fit for a position, recruiters may dismiss their application quickly. For example, if an Accountant applies for a Director of Marketing role or any other position that is entirely unrelated, a recruiter will likely reject the application quickly.
Others will reject candidates right after they check the applicant’s location. If the job is located in a country where a visa and work permit are required, this may also impact the recruiter’s decision.
While others may spend a considerable amount of time, even minutes, examining each resume. Some recruiters, like myself, double-check resumes to ensure they have been thoroughly assessed so we do two resume checks instead of one.
How to Get Your Resume Noticed
Now that we’ve debunked the six-second resume myth, let’s focus on what really matters: making your resume stand out to recruiters. Here are some recommendations to help your resume grab the attention of potential employers:
- Emphasize accomplishments: Showcase your achievements by providing quantifiable results which demonstrate your ability to make a positive impact in your past roles.
- Tailor your resume to the job: It’s essential to customize your resume and highlight the skills and experiences most relevant to the job description of the role you are applying for. However, avoid stuffing keywords or phrases from the job description into your resume, as this can come across as inauthentic.
- There are many things you can do to improve your chances of landing your dream job, and you can learn several great tips and tricks from this book “Job Search Guide or this newsletter.
- Use clear and concise language: Avoid jargon and buzzwords, and instead, employ straightforward language that communicates your qualifications effectively.
- Choose an appropriate format: A visually appealing and easy-to-read format will perfectly highlight your most pertinent skills and experiences. Do not add images, logos, or crazy font colors to your resume. Do not fall for the common myth that your resume (or CV) should be limited to just one page and one page only. If you have extensive experience and have been in the workforce for several years, your resume can span two or three pages, sometimes even more.
- Proofread thoroughly: A polished, error-free resume shows attention to detail and professionalism, making a positive impression on recruiters.
To increase your chances of landing your dream job, you must expand your approach and focus on other critical aspects of your professional presence.
Here are some key areas to prioritize alongside your resume:
- Build a strong LinkedIn profile: A well-rounded LinkedIn profile serves as an extension of your resume; it is your new business card. It showcases your skills, experiences, and accomplishments in greater depth. LinkedIn also allows you to connect with professionals in your industry, participate in discussions, and stay updated on the latest trends. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile and presence increases your visibility to recruiters and hiring managers, who often use the platform to find potential candidates.
- Network effectively: Networking can open up unexpected opportunities and connect you with influential people in your field. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and leverage social media to build and maintain a robust professional network. Remember, it’s not just about who you know—it’s about who knows you!
- Polish your interview skills: A well-crafted resume may land you an interview, but your ability to communicate effectively and demonstrate your value during the interview is crucial to securing the job offer. Practice common interview questions, research the company and role, and develop a clear understanding of how your skills and experiences align with the position.
- Focus on personal development: Improve your skills and knowledge continuously by engaging in professional development activities. Attend workshops, seminars, or online courses to stay relevant in your field and show your commitment to growth. Personal development also involves cultivating soft skills, such as communication, time management, and leadership, which employers highly value.
By focusing on these additional aspects of your job search strategy, you’ll not only stand out from the competition but also create a solid foundation for career advancement. Remember, a well-rounded approach that includes LinkedIn, networking, interview preparation, and personal development will help you unlock doors to new opportunities and propel your career forward.
The 6-second resume scan (scam) is nothing more than a myth, so don’t be swayed by it—invest your time and effort in crafting a resume (and your LinkedIn profile – Example) that truly represents your skills, experiences, and accomplishments, and you’ll be well on your way to career success.
When you next encounter the 6-second myth, keep in mind that hiring managers and recruiters dedicate more than a fleeting moment to identify the ideal candidate. Your resume serves as a powerful introduction, so emphasize your accomplishments rather than attempting to conquer a mere six seconds.
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