The Most Important 6 Seconds of Your Career

How long will a job recruiter look at your resume? A study released yesterday says it’s often over in the blink of an eye.


You spend hours writing and refining your resume. When you send it in, guess how long an employer reviews it? Sadly, less time than it took to read this paragraph.

“Most job seekers think recruiters spend 4 to 5 minutes reviewing a resume,” job recruiting firm TheLadders announced yesterday. “The truth: recruiters spend about 6 seconds before they make the initial ‘fit/no fit’ decision.”

That’s not a guess or even a survey of hiring managers. TheLadders sat hiring managers in front of a computer and asked them to scan resumes – while eye-tracking software determined what captured their attention first, how long they spent viewing each part, and what content they ignored.

Here’s what it looked like…

The study, called Keeping an Eye on Recruiter Behavior, concluded that with resumes, less is more.

“The ‘gaze trace’ of recruiters was erratic when they reviewed a poorly organized resume, and they experienced higher levels of cognitive load (total mental activity), which increased the level of effort to make a decision,” TheLadders concluded. “Professional resumes had less data, were evenly formatted and were described as clearer.”

Another interesting result: An online profile isn’t necessarily better than a traditional, professional resume. Concludes TheLadders: “Online profiles have pictures, and unfortunately, recruiters tended to focus on them for the simple reason that pictures naturally draw the eye. We found they kept recruiters from locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience.”

To learn how to write a resume that’ll impress in those six seconds, check out…

Stacy Johnson

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I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

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