Resumes & Profiles: Everyone is conspiring to waste your time.

Posted by Dave Dorman

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June 6, 2012

In order to better understand and facilitate connections between recruiters and job seekers, we recently conducted a massive study around one question:

How do recruiters and hiring managers actually make decisions about candidates?

This is an essential question for TheLadders, as well as for recruiters. Understanding what goes into the decision-making process will let us help job seekers better prepare themselves for recruiters, and by doing so, save recruiters time.

We decided to start with that cornerstone of the job search process, the resume. Specifically, how recruiters review resumes. To do this, we conducted a comprehensive eye-tracking study of recruiters while they reviewed resumes.

If you’re not familiar with eye-tracking, it’s a line of research that uses technology to record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task.

We brought in recruiters and recorded them as they viewed online profiles, different types of resumes, and other forms of candidate information.

Here’s some of what we discovered:

How much time does a recruiter spend reviewing a resume?

As you probably know, not much. Unfortunately, most job seekers think recruiters spend 4 to 5 minutes reviewing a resume. The real truth: recruiters spend about 6 seconds before they make an initial “fit/no fit” decision. That means prioritizing information on a resume is essential for a job seeker, and unfortunately, many job seekers have misconceptions as to what recruiters want to know. That’s part of the reason we conducted the study: To help job seekers learn to prioritize information for recruiter digestion.

Does a professionally written resume make a difference in what a recruiter learns about the candidate?

The results of the study revealed that the recruiters were able to easily find and focus on the important information they were looking for in a professional resume much faster than regular resumes or an online profile. Efficiency is key, and professional resumes deliver on it. Good news for recruiters.

Is an online profile digested differently than a resume?

Yes. Online profiles have pictures, and unfortunately, recruiters tended to focus on them for the simple reason that pictures naturally draw the eye. We found they kept recruiters from locating the important information, like skills and experience. Potentially, recruiters are better off reviewing a professional resume as opposed to an online profile.

There are many more interesting results in the complete study, including the charts. Download the full research study.

Will Evans is Manager, Experience Design for TheLadders in New York City with 15 years industry experience in interaction design, information architecture, and user experience strategy.