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  • Writer's pictureAnn Walsh

Does Your Resume Pass the Six-Second Test?


Did you know that the average recruiter scans a resume for a mere six seconds before deciding if you're a good fit for the role? I can attest! Meaning your resume has only six seconds to make the right impression. I know it sounds harsh, but it is the reality.


As a former recruiter and HR executive, I've read 10,000+ resumes throughout my career, and with advances in machine learning, the process of getting hired is more complex. Now many employers use tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage candidate prioritization and streamline the hiring process. Candidates must pass the ATS system before unlocking the six-second test- the human element of the process.


Remember, most recruiters are looking to rule you out instead of in.


So optimizing your resume is vital!


Here are six tips to pass the 6-second test:


1. Customize Your Resume

  • Avoid using a generic resume for all applications.

  • Tailor your resume for each job by highlighting your relevant experience, skills, and achievements that align with the position's specific requirements. Accomplishments with statistics always catch the eye of a recruiter, and doing so increases the chances of your resume matching the desired criteria set by the ATS.


2. Align Your Resume

  • The top third of your resume is the most important, and the first three bullets under your job title should highlight the essential items you want to get across.

  • Think of it as an elevator pitch, and someone asks, "What were your major accomplishments at your current and previous job?"

  • A good rule of thumb on the length of a resume– one page per decade of experience. Less is more and most times; recruiters won't get to the third page.


3. Use Relevant Keywords

  • ATS scan resumes for keywords and phrases matching the job description.

  • Carefully review the job posting and identify the key skills, qualifications, and industry-specific terms mentioned. Incorporate these keywords naturally throughout your resume to increase the chances of getting selected by the system.


4. Simplify Formatting

  • No photos. Complex design, graphics, and fancy fonts can confuse ATS, leading to errors in resume advancement.

  • Stick to a clean and straightforward format with standard fonts. Use simple section headings and bullet points to make your resume easily scannable by the system.


5. Use a Compatible Format

  • Although many ATS accept various file formats, submitting your resume in PDF is generally recommended unless instructed otherwise.

  • PDF ensures that your format is compatible with ATS and prevents technical issues that might hinder your resume from being correctly processed.


6. Be Professional

  • Spell-checking is crucial on a resume.

  • Given advanced technology, human and machine error occurs, so you must review your resume carefully. Recruiters see misspelling words as lacking attention to attention to detail.


Remember, while it's essential to optimize your resume for ATS, your focus should ultimately be on creating a strong, targeted resume that accurately represents your skills and experiences.


Cut the excess verbiage - you only have six seconds!


If you need help optimizing your resume, click here to schedule a call.


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