How Long Employers Spend Looking at Your Resume – And What to do About It

There are many rumors on the internet about how little time recruiters spend reviewing any individual resume. A quantitative eye tracking study from The Ladders has determined that recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing a resume.


Recruiters spend 80% of their six-second scan looking at these 4 areas:

  • Name
  • Current Position: Title, Company, and Dates of Employment
  • Previous Position: Title, Company, and Dates of Employment
  • Education


Below is the heat map from the study. On the left is a poorly formatted resume (text heavy, paragraphs rather than bullets and vague headers) and on the right is a professionally formatted resume:


Resume Eye Tracking Heat Map


The Ladders


How can you get the most out of your 6 seconds?


Format your resume like the one on the right.

  1. Get rid of any large paragraph-like blocks of text and replace them with pithy, compelling bullets of information. This makes your resume easier to read (or skim). Notice how recruiters seem to give up on the poorly formatted resume (on the left above) long before reaching the bottom.
  2. Use bold headers to divide your resume into clear sections like Experience and Education. In the professionally formatted resume (on the right above), the recruiter’s eyes hop from one section to the next, causing them to absorb more information than in the poorly chunked resume on the left.
  3. Put your education at the bottom! You may be very proud of your alma mater, but now that you are out in the real world employers want to see what you’ve done with the things you learned in school.


Put your prime real estate to work for you.
Recruiters spend lots of time at the top of your resume looking at your name and most recent position. We recommend that you add your personal brand between those two pieces of information (right below your name and above your current position). Your personal brand might be something like, “Building the infrastructure of tomorrow using today’s green technology”, or “Selling by winning trust” – whatever expresses your unique point of view and set of skills. A personal brand humanizes you and sticks in an employer’s mind, helping to set you apart from the rest of the pile of paper they will be reviewing.


The best advice? If you can, don’t rest your hopes on 6 seconds of resume review. Try to set up a coffee date or conversation with a recruiter, hiring manager, or employee at the company. 7 out of 10 employers say that they give more weight to resumes that come from a referral. Going the extra step to come recommended might get your resume the 5 minutes of review you are hoping for.

Read the full study by The Ladders here.

Posted by Meg Glasser