Life-cycle of a resume part 3: Human Resources
7.4 seconds is how long your resume may be glanced at before it goes into the thrash.
In 2012, TheLadders conducted a 2-stage study on recruiters. The first stage was to observe the recruiters over 10 weeks as they reviewed stacks of resumes, identifying potential candidates. Unknown to the recruiters, the researchers timed how long each resume was looked at before shortlisted or discarded.
The average time each resume is looked at? 6 seconds.
The study was repeated again in 2018 with an updated average of 7.4 seconds.
In today's digital world, recruiters have to wrestle with resume spam. HR is buried with resumes from countless job seekers. Job seekers often don't even read the requirements or job description but will just try their luck, submitting their resume to every posting they can find. Google receives 1 million resumes per month.
The reality is that submitted resumes are more often unqualified than not. To go through their allocated stack of resumes for each work day, HR needs to learn to quickly scan through each resume to look for key words and quickly dumping unsuitable ones. They may even employ junior staff to help do the first cut, without any expertise in your field or industry.
How to make every second count
Researchers have performed eyetracking studies to watch the behavior of our eyes reading various content. On the internet (where most content is consumed today), they have found that users consistently read in an F pattern. Our eyes often read by very quickly flicking over lines, first horizontally and then vertically. It scans for information that it finds useful and skips over anything it does not.
A similar result is found for recruiters viewing resumes.
What these studies mean for you is:
1. F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content. Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group, 2006
2. Eye Tracking Online Metacognition: Cognitive Complexity and Recruiter Decision Making. Will Evans, Head of User Experience Design, TheLadders. 2012. Updated 2018.