The 6-second Resume Review: What This Means To You

MGR Accounting Recruiters in
on Jul 4, 2014. Posted inBlogging In Balance

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Not long ago I came across a news report referencing a study done by TheLadders.  It said that on average recruiters spend 6 seconds looking at a resume before they decide to move on or further consider the candidate.  The report can be found at: http://cdn.theladders.net/static/images/basicSite/pdfs/TheLadders-EyeTracking-StudyC2.pdf

So what does that mean to you if you want to survive the initial 6-seconds?  Here are a6 seconds few ideas:

  • Cover letters = a waste of time.  All of the HR professionals I have ever asked say they don’t read cover letters.  While there may be some people that do, it is certainly rare.  Unless you are physically mailing or delivering your resume, the cover letter will generally go unread.
  • Use the email body wisely.  While cover letters are largely a waste of effort, there are things you can do in the body of an email to get attention.  Instead of just attaching your resume to an email and saying “Thank you”, use the body of the email to point out 2-3 skills you possess that pertain specifically to the job you are applying for.  Don’t be verbose; a few sentences or bullet points are plenty.  When the reviewer opens the email, it is much more likely that they will notice a few relevant bullet points than actually open a cover letter attachment.
  • Layout is key.  Since so little time is spent in the initial review according to the article, it needs to be easy for the reviewer to notice your applicable experience.  The use of white space to separate sections, using bullet points or 2-3 sentence descriptions instead of long paragraphs, and absolutely no block-formatting are a few ways to improve the layout.
  • Career summaries & objective statements.  These likely don’t matter either in a 6-second review, unless you use them to pack in a few pertinent keywords.  If they are nothing but a standard overview, it becomes a waste of valuable space.  Only use these sections if the content specifically, specifically, specifically applies to the job.
  • Customizing your resume.  Although it is a lot of work, customizing your resume to each job you apply for will help you get through the initial review.  You obviously always need to be honest, but removing bullet points that don’t apply and instead highlighting the experience that is pertinent to this specific job will increase your chances dramatically.  It takes more work, but the results will be far better.

I hope these ideas will help you as you consider updates to your resume and search for that perfect career position.

I wish you the best in your search.

Mark Goldman, CPA