How to Assure Your Résumé Gets Read


Yes, I just did a whole series on things not to do in job interviews and I want to stay away from that well for a while, but this came across my desk and thought it would also be good to share — especially since some of you have been thanking me via Twitter for those posts. Must be a lot of job-seekers out there right now.

Well, apparently, there’s a thing called the six-second test, which sounds like it’s plucked straight out of a men’s magazine but I can assure you: This is far less sexy but way more helpful.

A blogger shared this on LinkedIn: “I was recently told the average recruiter spends about six seconds on a resume and then decides whether to keep reading, or toss it in the 'no' pile. Additionally, their eye works in a Z pattern, meaning left-to-right across the top of the resume, and then back down the left-hand side.”

So what can you do to assure your résumé does get read?

This is tricky, because if there was a trick to it and everybody did it, that trick wouldn't do its thing anymore.

Well, obviously, structure your résumé to have your best stuff in those spots. If you have a friend who is a designer, ask them to help take a whack at getting creative with it. I had a friend who rebooted his résumé and instead of structuring it like a normal document, he asked for pull quotes from his colleagues and peppered them in the margins.

It’s unusual, and a little cheeky, but that will help you stand out, which is the point for the résumé. They're not there to get you the job, but the interview to talk about the job (which is where all those other posts I did come in handy for you).

Anyway, I don’t think the six-second rule is all that revelatory to point out, but it does confirm a suspicious and fear we all have: Nobody looks that closely at this document you poured over to get it just right. You want it to look great at first glance, and even better when you go in for a closer read.

And if you want more tips on landing an interview, this Lifehacker post is great, too. 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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