A Recruiter Gives Your Resume 6 Seconds. Here’s What Happens.

The first glance at your resume could be just six seconds... how would your resume do?Surveys show that recruiters spend about six seconds on their first look at a resume.

Six seconds.

That sounds about right to me.

I review resumes for a living and have developed a finely tuned superpower for scanning a resume quickly to find the key information I need.

How much can I see in a few seconds?

A lot, actually. Enough to quickly sort the resumes that definitely won’t work from those that are worth a deeper look.

I do it by focusing on certain things as I do my first scan over the pages. Here’s what I’m looking for:

Do the job titles match what I’m looking for?

When I’m recruiting for a marketing manager, I’m looking for resumes from marketing managers, or people who work in marketing. At the very least, I need someone who is targeting a marketing job. I am most definitely not interested in someone who thinks they could do marketing or did it a long time ago, or thinks their skills are transferable. They are not.

If the right job titles or key words are not obvious, or the headline talks about operations or sales or accounting, I’m done.

Tip: Use a headline that highlights what you do and reflects the job you’re applying to. Tailor it for each job you go after. If your previous jobs don’t match, find a way to make it look like they do.

Are there typos, misspellings or grammatical errors?

Top candidates make sure their all-important marketing document (which is what a resume really is) is perfect. Sloppy mistakes and errors show sloppy work, and I’m looking for excellence in every way. More than one or two very minor typos and I figure that if you don’t care, I don’t care.

Tip: Proof twice. Do a spelling and grammar check. Then get someone else to proof it, too. Make it perfect.

Does it look modern?

I work with innovative companies where there’s no room for old-fashioned or stuffy. I’m looking for candidates who have kept up with the times, so resumes with an objective statement, laundry lists of software and underlined Times New Roman headers look outdated. Overly formal language and formatting does, too.

Tip: Read up about the latest options for resumes and seriously, if you’re in a competitive field, get some professional help. Your resume represents your personal branding and the investment pays in many ways.

Does it make sense?

A resume should tell the story of your career in simple, easy-to-understand language. If you cram it with acronyms, statistics, corporate-speak, buzzwords and general trying-to-sound-important filler fluff, it’s too hard to decipher. A confusing resume looks like you don’t understand what you do, and I need clear communicators, no matter what the job I’m recruiting for.

Tip: Tell the story of your career in the clearest and simplest language possible.

Evaluating a resume to try to understand the person it represents is a much deeper process, of course, and the better the resume looks, the more time I will take in considering the candidate for an interview.

I can’t speak for other recruiters but this is what I’m looking for in those first seconds.

How would your resume do?

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