Resume Building: Six Seconds to Make a First Impression

It’s one of the age-old questions: How long do you have to make a first impression? When it comes to resume design and how quickly recruiters look at job seekers’ resumes, the answer is, not long. A recent study by The Ladders, the career matching company, found you only have about six seconds to make an impression on someone who could be the key to your next career opportunity.

The study used eye-tracking software to determine where recruiters were spending their time on each resume, how long the recruiters spent looking at items of information, how quickly their eyes moved between items, the trajectory of their eyes going from item to item, and what content was overlooked.

So where do recruiters focus first? Here are the top five:

  1. Top of the page—name if resume/picture if LinkedIn
  2. Current title and company
  3. Previous title and company
  4. Number of years at each role (right hand side of the page)
  5. Education requirements (bottom of the page)

The key is keeping your resume clean with plenty of white space. Don’t overcrowd your resume, or try to give too much detail about everything you have ever done. Keep your resume to no more than two pages. Avoid a large amount of block text and keep it from looking cluttered. Use bulleted items to list what you did or are currently doing.

The main point is to make your resume readable, because your readers are going to be skimming it and don’t have time to read every word.

With all this being said, the old rules are still important—the details are essential and making an impression means spending time on your resume. Have a clean resume that helps the reader in the process and hopefully you'll make it past the first six seconds and receive a closer look.

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