Where Recruiters Look First When Reviewing Your Resume

You probably already know that recruiters don’t spend much time reviewing each resume. Hiring managers don’t either. So by all accounts your need to get their attention fast.

The often referred to study done by The Ladders found recruiters reviewed resumes for 6 seconds before making a decision.

When I was recruiting I spent more than 6 seconds reviewing candidate resumes before making a decision whether or not to contact them for an interview. The recruiters I know spend more than 6 seconds too.

But, they don’t have all day either. Recruiters with several open positions are under certain time constraints.

Still, what I find most interesting about The Ladders’ study, which used a technique called “eye tracking” to examine recruiter’s eyes as they viewed resumes, is where recruiters looked during those 6 seconds.

The study found recruiters spent almost 80% of their time reviewing 6 areas.

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

Beyond these 6 areas, the study found recruiters scanned the resumes for key words that matched the open position. (Click here for an illustration.)

The most obvious take-away from The Ladders’ study is that you need to get the reader’s attention fast.

But, there are other things as well.

Employers are most interested in your current and previous position. Much as it may pain you, the jobs you held 10+ years ago are not that relevant to most employers.

The time spent at each position does count. While changing jobs every couple of years is no longer frowned upon by some employers, to some it’s still seen as a negative.

Your resume needs to be easy to read. Heavy text and problematic fonts make it difficult for readers to scan your resume for information.

While recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals will likely give your resume more than a cursory glance, you do need to engage them quickly. Make sure information is easy to find on your resume. Focus on your most recent positions, because that’s what employer’s care about the most.