Career Guide

How to Interest Job Recruiters Who Scan Résumés for Just 7.4 Seconds

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Despite an improved job market and increased competition for skilled workers, recruiters still skim resumes for superficial features such as layouts, job titles, text flows and keywords, says a new study from Ladders, a website for jobs that pay more than $100,000 per year.

According to the 2018 study, which analyzed the amount of time professional recruiters took to review résumés, the average initial screening time is just 7.4 seconds.

Top-performing résumés share several common traits, the study found. Recruiters give the most time and attention to resumes with simple layouts that include headings for sections and job titles, written in a clear font. Résumés that stand out have a detailed overview or mission statement at the top of the first page, and job titles in bold type followed by bulleted lists of the candidate’s accomplishments.

Worst-performing résumés share common mistakes: cluttered layouts, long sentences, multiple columns and scant white space. Recruiters tend to dismiss résumés that lack section or job headings and thus don’t draw the eye down the page, and those stuffed with keywords.

To catch a recruiter’s eye, resist the urge to cram your résumé with information, the study advises. Use bold-type sections or job titles throughout. Write short, declarative sentences that describe accomplishments, not long paragraphs. Use keywords only in context. And even if you have decades of experience, limit your résumé to two pages.

Find more career tips at the PRSA Jobcenter

About the author

John Elsasser


  • Thanks for the tips, John!
    As a student, this is valuable information as I am looking for jobs. I am always looking for new ways to ramp up my resume. It is important to know that we shouldn’t cram our resume with all the experience we have ever had. It is nice to know they would rather see less words on the page and to be picky when looking over your experience to add to your resume.

  • Thank you for these helpful points, John. Being a senior in college resumes are a hot topic of conversation. I am always asking my peers and superiors to look over my resume for advice. I appreciated how you were straightforward and clear with what recruiters are looking for. Next time I edit my resume, I will be sure to take these into consideration.

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