6 Seconds to Land an Interview

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by Shareem Kilkenny, CPRW/CC

Veteran Career Counseling Services

Six seconds. That’s all the time you have to impress recruiters with your resume. This according to a study conducted by The Ladders, an online job-matching service. According to the study, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing an individual resume.That could be the difference between landing a job interview or having your resume thrown into a pile never to get a second look. If you’re like most people you probably assumed that recruiters combed through each resume diligently reading every line to make sure they find the best client; but that would be the wrong assumption.  Obviously in six seconds there isn’t a whole lot of reading going on. In six seconds recruiters are basically glancing at the resume and making a quick decision as to whether or not they want to know more. So how do you make it past the six second mark?

The key is to make the resume visually appealing. Recruiters eyes tend to follow a consistent path when reviewing resumes. So the way you organize your layout is important. Well written resumes present the most relevant information right up front in places where recruiters expect it. According to the Ladders study eye-tracking technology resumes that were organized poorly caused the recruiter's eyes to move erratically around the resume, unsure of what to focus on. If they can’t figure out where to look on the page because it’s poorly organized there’s little chance you’ll make it past the six second mark. Make sure the primary pieces of information - your name, contact information, your job titles, employers, your start and end dates, and education - are easy to find.

Watch your length. This is the most common mistake veteran job seekers make. Some suggest keeping your resume to a page or less, but that generic advice is an overly simplistic approach that could sell yourself short. I understand the desire to keep things simple so as to not overwhelm the recruiter with several pages of information; but a page and a half to two pages is a good balance. This is especially true if you have more than ten years of work experience. The problem is when you cross into the three, four or five pages. Military retirees run into this issue a lot. They feel like they need to capture all 20+ years of their career, when in fact elaborating on the most recent years and deemphasizing the earlier years is perfectly acceptable.

Following these guidelines will help you generate an attractive resume, and increase your chances of a capturing and maintaining recruiters’ attention well beyond six seconds.