Resume Building: Six Seconds to Make a First Impression

Personal growth September 23, 2014 By Greg Carter

It’s one of the age-old questions: How long do you have to make a first impression? When it comes to resume design and how quickly recruiters look at job seekers’ resumes, the answer is, not long. A recent study by The Ladders, the career matching company, found you only have about six seconds to make an impression on someone who could be the key to your next career opportunity.

The study used eye-tracking software to determine where recruiters were spending their time on each resume, how long the recruiters spent looking at items of information, how quickly their eyes moved between items, the trajectory of their eyes going from item to item, and what content was overlooked.

So where do recruiters focus first? Here are the top five:

  1. Top of the page—name if looking at a resume/picture if looking at LinkedIn
  2. Current title and company
  3. Previous title and company
  4. Number of years at each role (should be located on right hand side of the page)
  5. Education requirements (should be located at bottom of the page)

The key is keeping your resume clean with plenty of white space. Don’t overcrowd your resume, or try to give too much detail about everything you have ever done. Keep your resume to no more than two pages. Avoid a large amount of block text and keep it from looking cluttered. Use bulleted items to list what you did or are currently doing.

The main point is to make your resume readable, because your readers are going to be skimming it and don’t have time to read every word.

With all this being said, the old rules are still important—the details are essential and making an impression means spending time on your resume. Have a clean resume that helps the reader in the process and hopefully you'll make it past the first six seconds and receive a closer look.

By Greg Carter

Director of Talent Acquisition, First United Bank - Denton

Greg Carter is the Director of Talent Acquisition at First United Bank. He joined First United in October 2014 after assisting First United with recruiting needs when working for RJ Byrd, an executive search firm in Dallas.

Prior to becoming a Recruiter, Greg served as Branch Manager for multiple banking institutions including Bank of Texas (BOKF) where his team won 2 Annual Perfect Circle Awards within 4 years.

Greg has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of North Texas and offices in Denton, TX.