You have 6 seconds to make an impression: How recruiters see your resume

How do recruiters and hiring managers actually make decisions about candidates?

One thing we know they use is your resume. But how? What is it about one resume that gives a recruiter the information they need to make the right call?

In order to find out, we needed to see how recruiters reviewed resumes. To do this, we conducted a comprehensive eye-tracking study of recruiters while they reviewed resumes.

If you’re not familiar with eye tracking, it’s a line of research that uses technology to record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task.

We brought in recruiters and recorded them as they viewed online profiles, different types of resumes, and other forms of candidate information.

Here’s some of what we discovered:

How much time does a recruiter spend reviewing a resume?

Unfortunately, not much. Most job seekers think recruiters spend 4 to 5 minutes reviewing a resume. The truth: recruiters spend about 6 seconds before they make the initial “fit/no fit” decision. That means prioritizing information is essential.


Does a professionally written resume make a difference in what a recruiter learns about the candidate?

The results of the study revealed that the recruiters were able to easily find and focus on the important information they were looking for in a professional resume much faster than regular resumes or an online profile.

Are online profiles effective?

No. Online profiles have pictures, and unfortunately, recruiters tended to focus on them for the simple reason that pictures naturally draw the eye. We found they kept recruiters from locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience.

There are many more interesting results in the complete study, including the charts. Click on the following links to download the full research study.

Will Evans|Will Evans is the former Manager, Experience Design for Ladders in New York City with 15 year industry experience in interaction design, information architecture, and user experience strategy.