How to optimize your resume for the 10-second skim
With recruiters spending an average of 10 seconds on an initial scan of your resume, it’s crucial that you are able to capture their attention quickly. If you fail to make an impact within the first few seconds, then you may find that many recruiters skip over your resume – without even reading it. So how exactly do you create a resume that makes a great first impression but also has enough depth to land job interviews? The following tips will put you on the right track to passing the initial 10 second skim.
Break the information up
If you want to make recruiters happy, make your resume easy to read. Nobody likes to wade through huge chunks of text to find the information they need.
Format your resume in the following way if you want to ensure that recruiters can easily find your important skills and knowledge:
- Divide all sections clearly with bold headings and borders to make navigation easy
- Ensure that your resume profile is only a few short paragraphs
- Use 1-line bullet points to describe your responsibilities and achievements
- Use a simple clean font consistently throughout your resume
Keep your resume under two pages
Some recruiters will receive hundreds of job applications every day, so they don’t have time to read lengthy resumes. If you want to ensure that your resume can be skimmed in 10 seconds, then it needs to be two pages or less. If you are struggling to condense your resume, you could try shortening some of your older roles, decreasing your page margins or even reducing the size of your heading fonts. You can also look to restructure some of your sentences to make sure that you are not repeating any points or using any unnecessary wording.
Optimize your top quarter
The top quarter is the part of your resume that is first visible when somebody opens it. For this reason, it’s really important that it contains all of the essential role requirements for the jobs you are applying to.
Browse through as many relevant job adverts as you can and make a list of the most common candidate requirements. Then tweak the top quarter of your resume to ensure that these requirements are prominently displayed. Now your resume will look instantly suitable as soon as recruiters open it, which will almost guarantee that you pass the initial skim read.
Cut down irrelevant information
The details you omit from you resume can be just as important as the information you include. If you have large sections of your resume being filled up with skills and knowledge that are not needed in the roles you are applying for, relevant talent and skills will get lost in the shuffle.
Check the job postings that you are applying for, and if you find that your resume contains lots of skills that aren’t mentioned in the role requirements, try cutting those sections down. You don’t have to completely remove them, but reduce the level of detail slightly to give yourself more space to include the skills that are actually being asked for in the job posting.
For example, if your work history from several years ago is completely different to the industry you are currently working in (and hoping to progress in), then it’s OK to cut down your older roles to 1-line summaries as your current target employers will not want to read about them in great detail.
By following the steps above, you will make it much easier for recruiters to quickly find the skills and experience they need. Once you have implemented these steps you should start to see more responses from job applications and more interview requests.
About Andrew Fennell
Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter, founder of resume writing service StandOut CV and author of the ultimate CV writing guide.