The Six Second Résumé - America's Future

March 18, 2014

The Six Second Résumé

By: Claire Kittle Dixon

Today I want to spend a little time on one of my favorite topics. Shockingly, I’m not referring to college football or dating; I’m talking about résumés. I often say that you have about eight seconds to prove you’re worth a hoot when someone is reviewing your résumé. Well, it turns out I was two seconds too generous. A recent study by TheLadders suggests that recruiters spend only about six seconds on a résumé before making the initial yes/no decision. Yikes, right? 

So, what you can do to ensure your résumé ends up in the “Yes” pile? Here are three tips.

Make it easy to find critical information. It’s a résumé, not a treasure map.  That means that key information should be easy to locate. Specifically, here are some of the things hiring managers care most about:

  • Name
  • Current title, employer, and position start/end dates
  • Previous title, employer, and position start/end dates
  • Education

Make sure this information is easy to find, read, and understand.

Avoid confusing the reader. If I need to call in a translator to figure out what in the dickens you’ve done for the last few years, you’re in trouble.
Case in point: I recently received a résumé that listed eight simultaneous roles with no explanation. Were these all part-time, contract positions? Was one of them full-time?  Was the candidate a vampire who didn’t require any sleep? I have no earthly idea because the résumé didn’t clarify.

Photographs, tables, and lively colors are great in your house – but not on your résumé.  As stunning as you are – and trust me, you are  – don’t include a photograph on your résumé. And leave the crazy colors for the designers on HGTV; keep your résumé in black and white.

Finally, since you aren’t Piet Mondrian, let’s avoid using tables, distracting boxes, and superfluous lines. Instead, use simple formatting – including bolding, italics, and white space – to organize your résumé.

You can learn more about résumés here; more about cool treasure maps here, more about selecting paint colors here, more about Piet Mondrian here.

 Claire Kittle Dixon is the Executive Director of Talent Market.