Resume Scanning: Every Second Counts

resume scanning is real Resume Scanning: Make Make Every Second Count

You’ve likely read that resumes help you land that coveted job interview, but did you know that recruiters simply employ resume scanning for less than ten seconds? Before you finish reading the first paragraph or two of this article, a recruiter has likely determined your ‘suitability’ for a job. Shocking as it may seem to jobseekers, I have to admit that as a hiring manager in my previous job I used to scan resumes within 10 seconds to determine whether the individual is someone worth calling up for a job interview.  Resume scanning is very real!

As it turned out I wasn’t the only hiring manager or recruiter used to scanning resumes versus reading through all of them, in a recent study by TheLadders, they found that recruiters scan resumes within 6 seconds. TheLadders used the ‘eye tracking’ method on 30 recruiters to determine which parts of a resume they focused on and for how long. Here’s the ‘heat map’ data that the study collated:

resume hospot

As you can see with the fiery reds and oranges in the photo, recruiters reviewed the resume on the right more rather than the one of the left. At a glance one can see that the resume on the right is formatted in a concise manner that makes it easy to spot important information, compared to the one on the left that had way too much information crammed in one area.

With the photo of two resumes presented to you, you might ask, what exactly are the areas the recruiters looked at? Here are the main parts of the resume that recruiters spent time on the most, and the areas you need to focus and improve on:

  • Name
  • Current Position and Company
  • Start Date of Current Post
  • Previous Position and Company
  • Start and End Date of Previous Position
  • Education

In addition to the areas listed above, the one area that will always be critical is ‘skills and experience’. Which means the easier it is for a recruiter to spot it, the higher the chances they’ll be able to check your qualifications. I’m sure other recruiters or hiring managers look for the same thing, and this is why as a jobseeker creating your resume, you need to focus on the following details:

  1. Ensure information recruiters look for are easily seen. Some might pass on your resume if it provides too many pieces of information without highlighting the relevant ones. So, areas like your name, contact information, job history, and most importantly, skills and education are easily spotted at a glance.
  2. Format your resume in a smart and professional manner, so that it looks clean and organized.
  3. Be clear and concise and always present relevant information. Even if you have oodles of experience, it doesn’t count if most of it does not relate to the job you’re applying for.
  4. Keep it simple, don’t add in unnecessary formatting. Different colours might be attractive on a rainbow, but it’s definitely not needed on a resume.

Now you might wonder why recruiters only spend a few seconds to scan resumes when looking for the right candidate. Well, with likely hundreds upon hundreds of resumes that come in each day, recruiters have to find the most efficient manner in spotting the best candidates for the job. As a jobseeker, it’s important you make each second count when a recruiter scans your resume, make every part of your resume shine and have it make the most impact. Within six seconds, you will either be passed on or offered a job interview.

Still struggling? We offer a resume health check and resume writing service, so stress no more; just hit up the experts 🙂


Leigh Grigaliunas

Leigh is an owner and co-founder of School Hours Pty Ltd.Leigh's passion for helping others coupled with his desire to achieve a balance between raising children and earning a living, lead him to create School Hours Pty Ltd with his wife Yasmin.School Hours will be the place to go for Australian parents wanting to connect with progressive thinking, family friendly employers.

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