Do Recruiters Really Only Spend 6 Seconds Reading Your Resume?
6 seconds or 7.4 seconds? A blink or a heartbeat? In today's fast-paced job market, do recruiters really skim through each resume in such a fleeting manner?
Have you ever heard of the 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 widely 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.”
The very company that initially perpetuated the six-second myth later revealed that the actual duration is 7.4 seconds (in 2020). It's challenging to place trust in a firm whose core business is “resume services” and spread these myths.
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 attendees 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. The shortest time a recruiter spent on a profile was 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 6-second myth is just that - a myth. 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 crucial to craft a well-written and impactful 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.
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Factors Influencing the Time Spent on Resumes
It is important to recognize that recruiters do not always allocate a consistent amount of time to evaluate each resume. Each recruiter has a unique approach: some may reject candidates based on their last two job titles listed and will dismiss them if they are not fit for the role they applied for. Another factor to consider is 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.
If a candidate is not a good fit for a position, their application may be dismissed quickly by recruiters. For instance, 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.
Recruiters have their own approach when it comes to evaluating resumes. Some may reject a candidate within seconds if they are deemed unfit based on the criteria mentioned above, 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.
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 should be limited to just one page. 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, showcasing your skills, experiences, and accomplishments in greater depth. It also allows you to connect with professionals in your industry, participate in discussions, and stay updated on the latest trends. By optimizing your LinkedIn presence, you increase 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. This preparation will boost your confidence and enable you to leave a lasting impression on your interviewers.
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 demonstrate your commitment to growth. Personal development also involves cultivating soft skills, such as communication, time management, and leadership, which are highly valued by employers.
By concentrating 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 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.
Please help in dispelling this myth by sharing this article within your network. Together, let us work towards debunking this misconception and many others!
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