Resume Review: Making the Most of Your Eight Seconds to Shine

resume reviewJobseekers are quick to show their disdain whenever a recruiter or blogger mentions the eight second resume review. You know, the average time an employer spends scanning your resume.

Of course they’re frustrated. After all, many (not all) jobseekers take a lot of time and care to get their resume just right. And all they can expect is eight seconds.

Eight seconds! That’s it?

Why You Can Trust the HR Process

Although it may seem impossible for a reader to get what they need when viewing a resume for only eight seconds, both human resource professionals and recruiters are masters at what they do. It’s not only possible to get what they need, but these professionals can do this on a consistent basis. It’s actually quite remarkable.

After speaking to numerous recruiters and Human Resource professionals, I came away with a heightened respect for their process to bring consistently positive results.

These people are top-notch efficiency experts! They know what they are doing and they spend a lot of time looking at resumes. It stands to reason that they follow carefully selected processes and highly sharpened skill sets. Again, they are masters at what they do!

I believe we should remember that there is a lot at stake when choosing someone to fill a job. A bad hire is a nightmare for a company both in productivity as well as the financial bottom line. This means that HR professionals and recruiters can’t afford to make errors. Since they are held accountable for the people they bring into a company, I believe that they are meticulous when finding the right person for the job.

Why You Only Get Eight Seconds For a Resume Review

Imagine you are a recruiter assigned to find the ideal candidate to fill a project manager role on the business side. This position is for a company that builds websites for a variety of clients that offer services and products. This includes law firms, niche high-end online retail stores, small community banks, and regional non-profit organizations.

The criterion that the client has given you includes approximately ten qualifications. Most of them are the usual concerns around communication, time management and decision making in a time-critical environment and so forth.

However, three qualifications are especially important to this client. They “prefer” someone who has the following:

Now you know the top qualifications and you face hundreds of resumes. Further, you may have between 10 and 20 other clients with positions that you are also trying to fill. Efficiency becomes survival.

It would make sense to quickly select ONLY those people who have a PMP® certification,  eliminating everyone else, at least temporarily. From there, you can check for the criterion in the remaining bullet points.

How long does it take to check for a PMP® certification? Yep…probably about eight seconds. If the resumes are accessible as searchable documents, then a quick search of a file would take less time.

If there aren’t enough candidates that have the PMP® certification, then a second resume review may bring those people with UX metrics into the pool. The process continues in elimination rounds. In the end, there are approximately 8 to 10 resumes for consideration.

Depending on the set-up of an Application Tracking System (ATS) candidates who do not have the required designations may be eliminated already.

And so goes the process. An eight second resume review is more than enough time to find the most qualified candidates.

Get Noticed in 8 Seconds

Now that we have some insight into how a resume is viewed in only eight seconds, it is possible to do the following:

  • If you have ANY of the “preferred” qualifications—place them “front and center” on the first page.
  • Identify the requirements for the position that will have greater import. E.g. “Time management” is assumed, but experience with IT projects directly applies to the position. Then place those requirements where there is top visibility.
  • Eliminate information that is a distraction or has marginal bearing on the activities in the job description.

Make every second count. This is your time to shine!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Forward Motion Careers.


Forward Motion Careers


Marcia LareauAbout the Author: Dr. Marcia LaReau has served in the business world for over ten years, including Fortune 100 companies. As a Curriculum Designer and Learning Technologist, she lead training initiatives for projects spanning 44,000 employees on four continents. As an HR Director, her use of unique, effective communication skills focused on learning processes to increase effectiveness and employee efficiency thereby reducing training budgets and maximizing training ROI.



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