You know you only get a brief chance to make a first impression on someone in person (think: 33 milliseconds). The bad news is that you don’t get much more time than that on paper. To be exact, you get 7.4 seconds.
That dismaying statistic comes from an updated Eye-Tracking study done by career site Ladders, which analyzed the amount of time a group of professional recruiters took to review candidate resumes. The very short review time comes despite the fact that unemployment is low, and it’s a jobseekers’ market. The small bit of good news is that attention spans for skimming have gotten slightly longer: up from an average of 6 seconds in 2012.
Winning resumes that prompted a recruiter to linger all had several key traits:
- Simple layouts with clearly marked section and title headers, all written in a clear font.
- Layouts that took advantage of F-pattern and E-pattern reading tendencies, with bold job titles supported by bulleted lists of accomplishments.
- A detailed overview or mission statement, primarily located at the top of the first page of the resume.
They took a hard pass on resumes crammed with long sentences, multiple columns, and very little white space. Those that didn’t have specific sections or job headings, and were stuffed with keywords, also got tossed.
Bottom line: Keep it short. (Even if you have years of experience, your resume shouldn’t exceed two pages.) Block sections with plenty of white space, and use declarative sentences instead of paragraphs to list achievements.