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The Six-Second Test

Here’s an eye-popping statistic for you: Many hiring managers spend six seconds on their initial review of your resume.

Six seconds.

“That’s hardly enough time for them to read my name!” you may be thinking. The truth is, recruiters and managers are trained to spot and digest key information swiftly – and they are almost forced to.

Many will field more than 100 applications for a single job opening. Jobs in bigger cities will attract many more.

Once hiring managers get a quick sense of who you are and what you’ve done, your resume is then scuttled into either the “yay” or “nay” pile for a more thorough review down the line. This process may seem unfair to qualified candidates, but it is the truth of today’s hiring culture.

The Study

The six-second conclusion was made by the TheLadders career service after it conducted a comprehensive eye-tracking study of recruiters while they reviewed resumes. In short, technology was used to record and analyze where and for how long the recruiters focused their attention during a resume assessment.

Beat the Six-Second Test

Here’s what recruiters are looking for during their rapid review of you resume:

  • An uninterrupted work history.
  • Numbers-based achievements.
  • Steady progression in your career, with increased leadership responsibilities.
  • Specific academic qualifications.
  • Specific certification or software skills.


Even if you’re not sure that you meet the qualifications for a job you recently applied to, a follow-up email or phone call can’t hurt – unless the job description specifically mentions “No phone calls please.”

In your follow-up, clearly explain that you recently applied for the position. Describe one more time how your qualifications and key skills match what the employer is looking for and end the message or call by thanking them in advance for any consideration.

How you come across in your approach will make a big difference in how your follow-up is perceived. So find the delicate balance between eager and interested to leave a positive impact on the hiring manager.

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