The Ladders way back in 2012 suggested that a recruiter will only give a resume a 6-sec review.  Here is the link to the original post.

I have been a recruiter and so while I can attest to skimming a large majority of resume because they aren’t even close, the ones that could even be slightly suitable I give substantially more than 6 secs, however, I can’t speak for others.

Here is what typically happens.

1. They look at the person’s name and see how they feel about it – this will never be said out loud but it happens and it happens mostly on a subconscious level and the recruiter isn’t even aware they are doing it. I will post a study done about this later.

2. They look down the right-hand side and if the dates are there, then they will see how choppy (in their minds) this candidate is.

3. They look at education level and university (there are school snubs out there – we all know this)

4. They look at the company names to see if they recognize them.

5. They look at the titles.

6. They look at any outcomes that have been included that have measures.

So you think this can all be done in 6 secs, well of course not and so you can see that recruiters make quick judgments on very superficial points and you are lucky if you even get them to step 4, as they have likely made up their minds by the time they have got to step 3.  Now steps 1, 2 and 3 could be done in any order, however number one is usually not something the recruiter is even aware of and so most recruiters will tell you they have limited bias, but I would suggest and I have a Ph.D. to back this up, that they do.

Why do they only give a resume 6 secs?

The answer is simple, they just get so many people applying to jobs they shouldn’t be applying to, but you can’t tell really unless you open the application or read the resume. So it is just a numbers game, and who wants to play with those odds.  Candidates need to spend their time wisely and make themselves worth more than a 6 secs look.  This is where it gets hard.

My suggestion, stop applying for everything you see as when companies include what they are looking for, you can guarantee that in most situations if a resume doesn’t have 90% of what the job posting requires, then the recruiter will exclude the resume.  So why wait your time doing this.

In the job search game and it is a game, you need to be honest with yourself.  If a job post says that they are looking for 1 years’ experience and you have 10 or 20, you think, wow, I can do that, and the company thinks, wow, why would this person apply as they won’t want the pay that a 1-year person would accept.  This is where the disconnect happens, regardless of whether you would take the lower pay; you never get the chance to even discuss it.  When there is this disconnect, applying online isn’t the best strategy.  You need to build relationships and network your way to the right opportunity.


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