Does Your Resume Pass The 6-Second Test?

Anish Majumdar

Does Your Resume Pass The 6-Second Test?

Did you know that a recent survey by found that recruiters spend an average of only 6.25 seconds scanning a resume?

Let that sink in for a moment.

In the time it takes you to reach for that cup of coffee, take a sip, and place it back down on your desk, a recruiter will review your entire work history and make a snap decision about whether or not to advance you as a candidate for the job.

Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, by adopting the right perspective and executing actions that align with the realities of today’s hiring environment, you can give yourself a powerful leg up over the competition…and start securing more interviews!

Here are some tips for passing that 6-second scan

1) Precisely Target Your Resume for the Job

Let’s be clear: the 1-size-fits-all resume DOES NOT work anymore. If a recruiter pulls up your resume for a Senior Manufacturing Manager position and can’t instantly see why you’re an excellent fit for the role, he or she will pass. No exceptions.

  • Compile a folder of job postings that you’d be perfect for.
  • Review these postings to see which skills are being called out time and time again. For example, a Senior Manufacturing Manager will most probably need to be well-versed in areas such as Lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, cross-functional leadership, and the development and execution of cost improvement initiatives. Write these down.
  • Cross-reference in-demand skills with those that you possess. This should form the “theme” of your resume- the more effectively you highlight and expound upon these traits, the more powerful your first impression.
  • Demonstrate your fit for the position through a “Summary” paragraph which crystallizes the value that you’re bringing to the table.
  • Highlight skills and quantifiable accomplishments which directly relate to your resume “theme” first within the “Professional Experience” section. Everything else, such as transferable skills, should be included in a supporting (read: short) capacity.

2) Make Your Resume Visually Appealing

Imagine that you’re a recruiter and 2 resumes come across your desk. The first is filled to the brim with text, has a messy layout, and generally looks patched together. The second is clean and naturally draws the eye to relevant information.

Which one will make the cut?

  • White space is your friend. Insert margins of at least 1-inch within your document. Paragraphs should not be longer than 3-4 lines.
  • Use Bullet Points to Draw Attention. Think quantifiable accomplishments with a (very brief) description of how they were achieved. Skip responsibilities that are taken for granted at your level.
  • Avoid using document templates with complex graphics. These do nothing to enhance your presentation, and increase the likelihood of problems when reviewing the document across desktop, mobile, and print.
  • Be consistent. Use the same font throughout the document, and use a maximum of 2 different font sizes (ex. your name and section headings at Garamond 14 pt., with the rest of the text at Garamond 10.5 pt.)

One last tip: always leave a recruiter wanting more!

Your resume doesn’t need to answer every possible question- that’s what an interview’s for. If it communicates fit for the role and establishes credibility, you’ve succeeded.

About The Author

Anish Majumdar

Anish Majumdar is a Career Strategist, Certified Resume Writer, and President of Trusted by top recruiting firms such as Witt/Kieffer in enhancing the career prospects of their clients, he specializes in the development of powerful, branded marketing collateral (Resumes, Linkedin) combined with breakthrough job search strategies that avoid the “resume black hole” and consistently land interviews. His articles have appeared in CareerRealism, Lifehacker, Practicelink, and many others. He is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC) as well as Career Directors International (CDI).


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