Tuesday, 10 December 2013 15:01

What are recruiters looking at on your Resume?

Part of the job performed by anyone in the staffing industry is to discuss what you need to have on your resume and how it should look.  I have always been a proponent of short, concise resumes that have formatting which is easy to read.  I know that this often contrasts with other opinions where more information is often presented.  A recent article on career builder (Click Here) discusses the merit of one page vs two page resumes in depth and in my personal opinion the arguments for a single page resume generally outweigh those for a longer document.  The primary reason for my observation is that I find that most of those making hiring decisions (myself included) tend to skim over a resume in a short period of time.  If we get to the second page we rarely ever read it but rather skim it in a matter of seconds.  

My logic has long been that each resume will be allotted a limited amount of time and you want to use this limited time to convey the most important information.  Additionally, I feel that a resume should leave some questions in the mind of the reader so that they feel compelled to contact you for more details.  A job search can be boiled down to a process of selling yourself and the resume can be looked at as a teaser that is used to generate a face to face meeting where you can make your closing.  This is not to say that you should leave thing off but rather that you should keep them at a high enough level that the reader wants to learn more about the small details.

Recruiter Behavior

Thanks to the good folks at The Ladders (www.theladders.com) we now have a much better understanding of how recruiters look at resumes.   The study called "Keeping and eye on recruiter behavior" is a quantitative study that used "eye tracking" technology to track the behavior of recruiters as they viewed resumes over a 10 week period.  The study attempted to answer a number of questions about what makes a good resume and it generated "heat maps" of resumes based on where recruiters eyes went on the resume.  The picture below shows a heat map of a resume along side a professionally written resume.

Resume Comparison

What the heat maps above show you is that a recruiter is much more likely to spend time on your resume when it follows a well organized format that effectively calls out the sections that they are looking for.  The resume on the left shows that recruiters are all over the page (literally) where the one on the right has much them much more focused on the areas that showcase the skills and education of the applicant.

Since we know that you also may not have time to read the whole study, we will give you a "cheaters" version of the report Below.  Please be aware that all these answers are paraphrased from the data provided by the ladders.com study and we have not verified the accuracy of this study.  If you have time this report is worth a read.  


How long does a recruiter spend on your resume to make a "fit / no fit" decision?

Answer: About 6 seconds.


What sections of your resume does a recruiter focus the most time on?

Answer: Recruiters spend about 80% of their time on these sections of your resume

  • Name
  • Current Title / Company
  • Previous Title / Company
  • Previous Position Start and End Dates
  • Current Position Start and End Dates
  • Education


Do recruiters find professionally re-written resumes easier to read?

Answer: Yes.  Recruiters in the survey rated professionally re-written resumes to be 60% "easier to read" due to the differences in layout.



Monday the 13th.