Will your resume pass the six-second test? Ask these questions to find out.

In today's competitive job market, it should come as no surprise that recruiters, hiring managers, and other HR professionals are often pressed for time when reviewing the loads of job applications they receive for each open position. 

In fact, studies have shown that, on average, a recruiter scans each resume for only six seconds before deciding if it belongs in the trash. In other words, you only get six seconds to capture the hiring manager's attention and convince them you are the only professional for the job — that's a big task to complete in so little time. 

So, does your resume pass the six-second test? Ask yourself the following questions to find out. 

How often do my online job applications receive responses?

If you're applying to jobs you're qualified for and rarely receive a response, then your resume may need some professional help. 

Most job applications must pass through software known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) before they make their way to the hiring manager. If you don't have an ATS-friendly resume, there's a good chance your application is getting stuck in these electronic filters and lost in the infamous resume black hole.

Not sure if your resume can get through these electronic gatekeepers? A resume review can help with that. Not only is a review from TopResume free, but it can also show you what the ATS sees when it scans your resume. With that information, you will be able to tailor your resume to beat the bots and get it in the hands of a human being. From there, you're one step closer to securing your dream job. 

Do recruiters contact me about positions that interest me?

If recruiters regularly contact you about job opportunities in which you have no interest, then your resume may be sending mixed signals about your goals. 

A good resume is written with a specific job goal in mind. It should not only state your job target toward the top of the page, but the entire document should also be framed in a way that calls attention to your relevant qualifications. 

If you're interested in changing careers, getting back into a field you haven't been in for many years, or taking your career to the next level, your resume will need to be reconfigured to support this new goal.

Does my resume pass the stranger test?

If you were to have a random stranger review the top third of your resume for no more than 30 seconds, would they be able to easily identify your job goals and qualifications? If so, your resume is on the right track. If not, then your resume still needs some TLC. 

To ensure that a recruiter or hiring manager can easily identify your job goals, qualifications, and expertise, you need to format your resume in a way that lays out those details early on. You most likely want to use a hybrid resume format with a professional summary at the top. Not sure what that means or if you're doing it correctly?  Our review can tell you if you're on the right track — or you can work with one of our professional writers to ensure you have a resume that works for you.

Have I optimized my resume with keywords?

Every industry has its own set of terms that describe their field. Applicant tracking systems are programmed to look for these resume keywords to rank your application and determine if you're a good fit for the role.

In order to make it past these initial reviews, it's important to incorporate relevant keywords throughout your resume. Make sure to sprinkle them in your professional summary, your areas of expertise, and throughout your experience. Not sure how to seamlessly add them? Use the article linked here to learn more or submit your resume for a review.  

Am I emphasizing my achievements? 

Depending upon how your resume is worded, you may come across as a “doer” rather than an “achiever.” This is something employers — and resume writers — are always looking out for. Take a second look at how you describe your work experience and make sure you're emphasizing the results you've achieved, rather than the tasks you've been assigned. 

If you're having trouble wording your contributions or quantifying your accomplishments, you may want to ask a professional resume writer for advice

Does my digital footprint match my resume?

It's not enough to have a killer resume. Employers also expect you to tell a consistent story about your work experience and job goals online. In fact, 93 percent of recruiters will review your online presence before they decide to interview you.

But what exactly does "online presence" mean? From your social media profiles, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to a personal website or portfolio, anything a recruiter can find if they search for you is part of your online presence. That's why you need to make sure your online presence is cohesive and supports your career goals.

Start by Googling yourself to see what comes up, cleaning out irrelevant information, fixing the privacy settings on profiles you don't want a recruiter to see, and creating an online narrative that fits your goals. 

Also, make sure your LinkedIn profile not only supports your career goals, but is also setting you apart from other candidates. You want to make sure recruiters can find you — and are impressed with what they see. Our LinkedIn profile makeover service can help you do just that.  

Make a lasting impression with your resume

At the end of the day, you still only have about six seconds to make your case to the hiring manager. But using the tips above, coupled with our free resume critique or help from a professional resume writer, will ensure that your resume will pass this test and help you get to the next round. Don't let mere seconds be the reason you don't land your dream job. 

Let a professional help you write the next chapter of your career. Learn more about our resume-writing services today.

This article was updated in April 2020 by Danielle Elmers.

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