Spend Six Seconds on Your Resume

IMG_5294Why six seconds? Because that’s how much time a recruiter or hiring manager is likely to spend looking at your resume (it could be up to ten seconds).  

You have to put yourself on the other side of your resume–if you were the hiring manager looking at a stack of resumes, how would you spend the 6 seconds allotted for yours?

  • Would you want to spend more than six seconds looking at your resume?
  • Does your resume make a good first impression?
  • Does it stand out from the crowd?
  • Would you call yourself in for an interview?

These are all the questions that hiring managers answer in those six seconds they spend with your resume.  

During the first six seconds I spend with a client’s resume, here are my most common thoughts:

  • “Too much white space.”
  • “Not enough white space.”
  • “Too much text–I can’t read all this!”
  • “Boring! This looks like all the other resumes.”
  • “Does this person think I’m hiring someone to be a student? Everything I see in the first six seconds is about education.”

After I spend an hour with a client, I always think things like:

  • “He has a genuine passion for the work he does.”
  • “She has the kind of stories that will make employers want to hire her.”
  • “What an interesting person!”
  • “She is charming.”

The problem is, you get neither an hour nor face-to-face time at the beginning of the process.  All that wit, charm, experience, and passion has to come through on your resume–and in as few as six seconds.  So now you have to spend a lot more than six seconds making that happen for you on your resume.  

There’s no one right or wrong way to do this; it depends on the candidate, the industry, one’s experience.  

Here are just a few tips to get you thinking about what might make your resume the best it can be:

Replace the “Objective Statement” with a “Branding Statement” (see Kristin Johnson’s post on Careerealism). Get rid of the objective statement no matter what you do because all this ever says is “I want a job,” which does not make you unique among candidates seeking a job.

Only use a branding statement if it truly says something unique about you.  For example, I use “standout candidates in competitive job markets” as a personal branding statement.  I lead campus workshops for foreign language students transitioning from college to career; for that, I use “transforming foreign language students into standout candidates in competitive job markets.”  

Add quantifiable information everywhere you can. This really beefs up a resume entry. Here’s just one example:

Ho-hum entry with no quantifiable information: 

  • Biked across the country as a team to raise money for cancer research

Here’s the same entry with some numbers–dollar amounts, distance covered, time spent:

  • Fundraised $130,000 for cancer research as a team by biking 4,200 miles over 70 days 

Add quantifiable information to your resume such as: dollar amounts for budgets, total number of employees trained, total number of reports prepared, return rates, etc.  

Open with your best stuff–don’t bury the lead!  This varies by candidate, but I’ve seen solid resumes that open with all of these headings:

 “Relevant Projects” 

“Design Project Experience”

“Professional Experience”

“Teaching Experience”

“Work Experience”



Choose the content that is going to make you shine bright for six seconds and affix the most apt heading–what content that is will change from job to job so be sure to update your resume for each application!

2009 Head ShotDarcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: darcylear@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Career Advice, darcy lear, document preparation, resume tips. Bookmark the permalink.

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