CV Tips

By now you’ve certainly heard some of the ridiculous job search stats that are being thrown around. Yet, none are as silly as the claim that recruiters only spend 6 seconds on a resume before they decide whether or not to trash it.  Job seekers have been led to believe that all the hard work they put into their resume and their chances of getting an interview rest on a mere 6 seconds. With a stat like that, how can anyone feel hopeful about the job search?  Resume Genius decided to give some hope back to job seekers and put this resume myth to bed… but how?

More than 9,000 participants (average Joes AND experienced recruiters) completed a challenge, whereby different resumes were to be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in just 6 seconds. The results are compiled in the infograpahic below. What do they tell us?  The success rate hovered around just 50% for both cohorts – not very promising!

So although the 6-second rule, or myth, has now been debunked, we can’t become complacent with our resumes. It doesn’t mean hiring managers and recruiters won’t stop making judgements about a resume as soon as they lay their eyes on it. The experiment also concludes that you increase your chances of getting your resume past the first 6 seconds of judgment by 25% simply by making it aesthetically pleasing and well-formatted!  Here are some top tips on how you can make a strong first impression with yours:

1. Apply Proportional Margins

Most job seekers don’t play around with the margins of their resume, but a few minor tweaks could really improve its readability. One-inch margins are usually the safe choice for most resumes as they help keep the length of the lines of text short and skimmable.

2. Maintain a balanced white space to text ratio

This point is directly related to your resume’s margins. “White space” is another overlooked aspect of the resume. Too much white space makes a resume look desolate and can give the impression that the applicant lacks experience. On the other hand, a resume with too little white space can appear too crowded and leave recruiters feeing claustraphobic. Therefore, it’s important to find a happy medium between text and white space on the page.

3. Use an easy-to-read font

When choosing the right font for your resume, aim for one that is scannable and not distracting. Some applicants disregard these goals and try to get too creative with their fonts. Sure, this may help them stand out from the competition, but for all the wrong reasons. Don’t choose a font that will distract recruiters from what’s actually important – your skills and experience. Instead, choose a font that will add a subtle hint of style while maintaining your resume’s readability. Fonts like Calibri, Helvetica, Garamond, and Bookman Old Style are all appropriate choices.

4. Make sure all your bullet points are evenly aligned

Although this tip sounds like common sense, uneven bullet points is an issue that recruiters see way too often. Before sending out your resume,be sure to double check that all your headings, subheadings, and bullet points are evenly aligned. Otherwise, you will give the impression that you are a sloppy individual that doesn’t pay attention to detail.

5. Use lines to break up the text

Adding horizontal lines is an easy way to improve your resume’s readability. Lines cue recruiters to pause momentarily and process the information they just finished reading.

6. Add a bit of color

Deciding whether you add color to your resume really depends on the job or company you are applying to. If you are applying for a position at a conservative company, it’s probably safer to go with the traditional white and black. However if you the job you applying to is in a more creative industry, then you should definitely make use of a subtle color scheme. It’s best to stick with primary colors and avoid any bright or neon variations.

To sum it all up, job seekers no longer need to fear the first 6 seconds that a hiring manager or recruiter spends on a resume. With an aesthetic and properly formatted resume, your chances of getting past the first 6 seconds are significantly higher.

About the author: Erik “EPIC” Episcopo is a career adviser and hiring manager at Resume Genius. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

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