Your Tenth of A Minute is Up!

Six seconds is how much time a recruiter needs to review a resume.

In less time than most cars can reach 60 miles per hour, recruiters assess your resume and decide if they are going to pursue it according to a study by The Ladders. The same study found that recruiters who “like a resume” spend an additional four to five minutes reading it more closely.

When you apply for a job and send your resume, the resume has one purpose – to win you an interview. According to research, only one prospect of 200 gets an interview when applying for a job. This means, that you have to get past the first 6 seconds of resume review in order to go to an interview.

Passing the Six Second Test

You must remember that recruiters scan tons of resumes during a search for job candidates. Make their job easy by keeping your resume simple. During that first six seconds, they are looking for your:

  • Name
  • Previous positions including start and end dates
  • Present title and company
  • Previous title and company
  • Education including degree and institution

Provide this information early in your resume.

Keeping it simple makes your resume more readable. According to an article that appeared in 1993, the advice given by the Chicago Tribune Business section is still valid today. The article stresses that recruiters have little time to spend reading resumes and “the first and most important rule” is that a resume should be simple and well-organized. In 1993, Lena Kildras, corporate human resources generalist with Sara Lee Corp. of Chicago said:

"Place of employment, job title, years there, very brief description of major accountabilities. Make it reader-friendly, because no one wants to read through paragraphs of information."

In addition to great organization, most corporate recruiters suggest that the shorter the resume the better, if your resume gets you an appointment for an interviewer, you have an opportunity to elaborate on your experience, and non-work experience that qualify you for the position.

Silvia Flores of executive search consultancy Alder Koten suggests that you limit the use of adjectives as to her and other recruiters they are empty words. Dates, titles, responsibilities, and education tell your story clearly says Flores. This advice comes thirty years after the story in the Chicago Tribune.

Flores notes that resumes not only need an easy to read format. They also need friendliness for cutting, pasting and parsing as most recruiters and search firms use customer relationship management (CRM) and applicant tracking systems (ATS). This is they go about storing, searching, and managing resume data for consideration as a potential candidate.

Six Seconds

How short is six seconds? Well, the average person can tie their shoes in six seconds or sign your name. Vine is a free web service where a user can post video that is six seconds long. Brian Carnevale is the founder of Vine and claims that when you see the news on television, the highlights only take six seconds to announce. Therefore, a six-second Vine clip is enough to have a viewer go to another site for more information if they have an interest. This is much like a recruiter using six second to scan a resume for more follow-up.


Six seconds is not very long, make sure recruiters use it wisely by giving them the information they want during their first six-second scan.

  1. Resumes should be simple and well-organized.
  2. Use bullet points and white space, avoid adjectives
  3. Focus on your current and previous immediate past position. If you are new to the job market, include related volunteer work and unpaid internships.
  4. Everything on your resume besides name, previous positions including start and end dates, present title and company, previous title and company, and your education including degree and institution is extraneous and not important on the first pass of your resume.

Does your C.V. or resume follow these guidelines? Do you think it is easy to read, short and have as few adjectives as possible? Your thoughts and comments below please…


Photo Credit: G. Senkow License: Creative Commons License  Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

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