If you’re like most job seekers, you probably think that recruiters and hiring managers spend at least a few minutes reading your resume, evaluating your skills, gauging your experience, and reviewing your background, right? Wrong.

According to a study by TheLadders, recruiters spend just “6 seconds on their initial ‘fit/no fit’ decision” when reading a resume or online profile.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the job posting website dived into the minds of 30 professional recruiters, unearthing how their thought process works, why they make their decisions, and how job seekers can increase the effectiveness of their resumes.

The study’s results are based on data collected through advanced “eye-tracking” technology–an “assessment of eye movement that records and analyzes where and how long a person focused when digesting information or completing activities.”

Take a look at how eye-tracking works:

The technology showed that recruiters spent “80% of their resume review time” on these pieces of information:

  • Name
  • Previous position start and end dates
  • Current title/company
  • Current position start and end dates
  • Previous title/company
  • Education

For the remaining 20% of the time that they spent on a resume (a whopping 1.2 seconds…), recruiters looked for keywords that related to the open position.

This image shows two “heat maps” of how long recruiters spent looking at what information. The more red an area is, the longer they focused on it:

This image of a sample Ladders profile shows the order in which recruiters look at information (the numbers):

So, with your professional future reliant on just six seconds of eye time, what do you need to do to stand to from the masses?

First, hire a resume writer. The study shows that recruiters follow a “consistent visual path.” Resumes prepared by professional writers “have a clear visual hierarchy and present relevant information where recruiters expect it.” The better organized a resume is, the more it forces the reader to

Second, forget about the online profile and skip the photo–reviewers waste vital time on pictures and ads. “Such visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capability and hampered decision making.” In addition, “irrelevant data such as candidates’ age, gender or race may have biased reviewers’ judgements.”

The results of this study are surprising, yes, but for high demand positions, recruiters must sift through literally thousands of resumes. They have to start somewhere and 6 seconds is much better than the 0 seconds that job-seekers get from keyword algorithms. Employ these simple tips, and you’ll have a significantly better chance of making it to the next round.

[image via TheJobSeekers]