Your 6 Second Resume

Nancy Anderson
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Recruiters and HR managers who read your resume online spend an average of six seconds scanning your document. Special computer programs monitored eye-tracking behavior of professionals scanning resumes, and the software determined common themes. Use this to your advantage, and tailor your vital document accordingly.

According to researchers, recruiters look at the name, current position, previous position, education and relevant keywords on a resume. Eye-tracking behavior across LinkedIn profiles included a glance at the candidate's photograph, and recruiters spend almost as much time viewing LinkedIn photos as they do scanning resume data.

To grab an employer's attention, put your most important information where the recruiter's eyes go to ensure the six seconds you get for an initial scan lead to more in-depth investigations. Eye-tracking behavior has become just as much of a science as keyword tracking in terms of money- and time-saving recruiting techniques.

HR personnel first look at the center-top part of a resume, where your name goes. Put your contact information at the bottom of the page for your recruiter to view later. Otherwise, the top of the page might have too much clutter and can muck up eye-tracking behavior.

Next, the recruiter scans the left margin for current and previous positions. Words in your left margin should include hooks that get people to read more. Keep lists of accomplishments short, sweet and in a different verbiage style from the rest of the resume, as a person's eye-tracking behavior tends to naturally migrate to the text that stands out. Instead of "Increased team profits from $500,000 to $1 million in six months," write down "2X profit in 6 months as Team Leader." The numerals and capital letters in the second example are more likely to stand out to the HR manager.

Place relevant keywords in bulleted lists for easy reading. The keywords should come from the job description. Pick words from the top-most job duties, and include words that pertain to your skills and experience. Look at the company's mission statement, and logically insert verbiage from that statement into your document.

When formatting your resume, create streamlined, concise sections that look uniform, crisp and organized. Include white space so recruiters can find relevant information faster. Exclude unnecessary items, such as a photograph or excess contact information. Your one-page resume needs to have the most vital information in it since recruiters don't spend a lot of time on the document initially. If needed, have your resume formatted professionally. Some services may add colored text or an infographic that draws eyes to particular areas.

Eye-tracking behavior is an exact science, and following these specific techniques when creating your resume may give you an advantage over other candidates. Although the look of the resume may not land you a job, it can get you ahead in the game.

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