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Your resume has six seconds to get you a job

How much time do you have to make a first impression? About as much time as it just took you to read this sentence.It may seem hard to imagine, but on average recruiters spend about six seconds reviewing a resume and making their initial "fit/no fit" decision, deciding whether you’re potentially right -- or dead wrong -- for a job, according to a study released Wednesday by TheLadders, an onl
Businessman looking at paper
Businessman looking at paperBrand X Pictures / Today

How much time do you have to make a first impression? About as much time as it just took you to read this sentence.

It may seem hard to imagine, but on average recruiters spend about six seconds reviewing a resume and making their initial "fit/no fit" decision, deciding whether you’re potentially right -- or dead wrong -- for a job, according to a study released Wednesday by TheLadders, an online job site. 

The site’s researchers used eye-tracking technology to study recruiters as they reviewed resumes and online profiles. The study was based on a cross-section of 30 headhunters from the New York area who were monitored over a 10-week period in December.

“We were looking at how long they were spending to see if they were comfortable making a decision on whether a person is a fit or not,” said Will Evans, the head of user experience at TheLadders.

While previous research has shown that recruiters say they spend four to five minutes on individual resumes, the eye-tracking study came to a different conclusion.

And adding photos or graphics to your resumes or online profiles is unlikely to help.

Evans said those bells and whistles can actually frustrate recruiters and take their attention away from the experience and skill sets on your resume.

“If you have a photo online they are going to fixate on that photo; same thing with video resumes,” he said. “It could be problematic.”

He advised sticking to the basics.

"Recruiters are focused on the most important information: what titles you held; the companies you worked at, the fact that you have a degree," he said.

That doesn’t mean you should get rid of the fancy resume you’ve posted on Pinterest, the visual social networking site that’s home to some creative job-seeker profiles.

Instead, you could have two resumes. Use a straightforward resume when you first apply for a gig, whether it’s via an online jobs board or a recruiter. The first people who see your resume are typically gatekeepers looking for key skills and experience, Evans said.

Save the showy resume for the hiring manager, who may be more interested in how creative you are.