Understand a Resume in 6 Seconds

resume buildingMembers of the human resource community are taking on more duties than ever before. With more job candidates and less time allotted for the recruitment process, HR professionals can only spend about six seconds to review one resume, according to a new study. While this may not be a lot, job seekers are starting to streamline and structure their résumés to ensure they stand out to recruiters. There are number of strategies recruiters can utilize to maximize those six seconds and find top talent.

Prioritize Relevant Information
A new study from The Ladders, a job-matching service, found HR professionals take an average of six seconds to review one résumé. According to ERE.net, four seconds are used to scan for four areas: job titles, previous employers, start/end dates and education. This narrows recruiters to only two seconds to see everything else, such as the candidate’s skill set and any compatible qualifications. The study also found recruiters spend 20 percent of the time looking for keywords that match the job description.

While many of these things are essential to performing the position’s duties, recruiters should remember to create a hierarchy of what is most important to the position. Job seekers are beginning to optimize their résumé formats for HR professionals to observe qualifications easily. Recruiters may want to consider taking one second to scan through how the candidate formatted the résumé. Doing so can provide instant insight in the job seeker’s creativity, efficiency and ability to innovate, which can show the potential for top talent. A candidate who can organize his or her résumé into a clear format may offer stronger analytical skills than their counterparts and show they are systematic.

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Use the Cover Letter as a Guide
According ERE.net, only 17 percent of recruiters read cover letters. Taking the time to scan the cover letter may fall outside the six seconds recruiters allot to reading résumés, but provides information about whether the job seeker understands the position. A résumé highlights the candidate’s accomplishments and it can be easy for an applicant to embellish their experience and skill sets. Recruiters should think about reading the cover letter as a way to glean insights about how the candidate may perform on the job. It can also offer a standard that recruiters can utilize when scanning the resume. The cover letter helps HR professionals ensure they are not missing any relevant information that can aid in finding top talent.

MORE: The World Need More CARE-ers, Not RECRUIT-ers 

Joseph Azzata
Joseph J. Azzata is the founder of eCareer Holdings, Inc. From 2002 to 2010, Azzata was CEO and co-founder of Medical Connections Holdings Inc.

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