Can Your Resume Pass the Six Second Test?

Nancy Anderson
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Imagine listing your job skills and telling your career history in just six seconds. That's your resume's job. Since the average recruiter takes only six seconds to determine if this all-important document lands on the reject pile or gets moved to the "maybe" stack, it's imperative that yours be up to par. Find out if your resume contains all the essential information to pass the six-second test.

1. A Clean Presentation

Make sure the recruiter sees a clean, polished document before he even picks up your resume. Choose a professional font, and ensure the margins and bullets are lined up properly. Strike the perfect balance between text and white space to avoid a cluttered look. Try to keep your resume to one page in length.

2. Clear Contact Information

Create a simple, easy-to-read header that contains your contact information. Include only your name, email address and phone number. Don't clutter up your resume with Facebook URLs, Twitter profiles or links to other social media sites.

3. An Eye-Catching Executive Summary

Directly beneath your contact information, craft a compelling executive summary that demonstrates the career experience, unique skills and personal characteristics that make you the most desirable candidate and show how you can bring value to the potential employer. Skip the objective statement, as it may actually limit your chances of being chosen for an interview.

4. Impressive Employers

When listing previous positions on your resume, make note of any remarkable information about a former employer. Include stellar sales figures or Fortune 500 designations. If the organization recently won an industry award, list it.

5. Notable Achievements

Make sure your resume touts your most noteworthy accomplishments with current or former employers. Include bullets to illustrate your achievements, and provide quantitative data to back up your claims. For example, state that you "increased sales by 200 percent" or "saved $10,000 in marketing costs."

6. Relevant Keywords

Scan the job description to pick out the keywords that are most prominent, or try a word cloud website to see a visual design of the job listing. Work the most relevant keywords into your resume and cover letter to demonstrate to the employer your fit for the open position.

7. A Flawless Delivery

Before sending out your newly designed resume, be sure to read it several times, looking for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or misplaced punctuation. Ask a trusted friend, family member or colleague to take a look at it with a fresh set of eyes and find issues you may have missed.

With such a small window of opportunity to capture the hiring manager's attention, your resume has to check all the boxes to pass the six-second test. If your resume falls short in any of these essential areas, make the necessary tweaks to bring it up to snuff before sending out another application.

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at


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  • Wilmot R.
    Wilmot R.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Devin S.
    Devin S.

    Thanks for the resume tips!

  • jennifer w.
    jennifer w.

    Thanks so much for the article!

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