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Make Your Resume Stand Out In 7.4 Seconds

November 8th, 2018


In 2012, a study of how long recruiters studied a resume stunned job seekers when it turned out the average was 6 seconds.

Now, a redo of that study finds not much has changed. The average time bumped up to 7.4 seconds.

Just as they did with the first study, recruiters and employment professionals can argue over the accuracy and thoroughness of this update, but whether it's 6 seconds, 7.4 or twice that, if the key points of your resume don't immediately jump out, you might as well forget about being called for an interview.

And know that except at the smallest employers, your resume's first hurdle is getting past the automated matching and ranking of modern applicant tracking systems. Before a recruiter even bothers scanning a resume, it has to score among the top applications, as determined by artificial intelligence powered systems. These no longer simply match the words in your resume against a job description; they intuit connections and recognize job progression and career advancement by taking into account multiple factors, not just your title.

The most sophisticated systems have information on successful past hires, enabling them to predict who among all the applicants might be similarly successful.

As sophisticated as these systems have become, your resume still needs to hit all the key points mentioned in the job description. If you're an accountant with four years of experience in tax, compliance, audit and business analysis, be sure to say that in detail. Don't simply say you have "broad experience."

You also need to mindful of how your resume looks. A computer might not care, but if yours happens to be one a recruiter does review, you want it to be clear and uncluttered, with headings that draw the eye. Far more important than listing your duties or job responsibilities, highlight your accomplishments that made a difference. Show how you improved a process that saved the company money, generated more revenue, improved performance and the like. Use specific percentages or dollars.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to hire people who will make a positive impact and their best way of predicting that is past performance. Showing that on your resume won't get you the job, but in those 7.4 seconds, that kind of detail will be enough to get you a second look and maybe an interview.

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