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Can Your Resume Impress Hiring Managers in 8 Seconds or Less?

Let me assure you, this is not a trick question. For most recruiters and employers that receive anywhere from 150 to 200+ resumes in response to a single job posting, they only have time to give each document a quick 6- to 8-second glance during the initial screening process. This might seem like a ridiculously quick assessment, but these guys are pros – they know exactly what type of skills and experience they’re looking for and are more than capable of identifying those qualified candidates that check the mandatory boxes with a quick glance down the page.

The real challenge is creating a polished, professional resume that is “skimmable” and makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find what they need in under 8 seconds. So how can you make that happen? These tips will help you tip the scales in the right direction.

Use Job Titles to Establish Clear Focus

Think about it – if an employer receives over 150 resumes for a single job posting, the ones that are clearly written for the position will stand out from the rest. Adding a job title to your resume is a simple and effective way to create job focus and strategically establish yourself as a qualified candidate in the mind of the reader.

Keep the Career Summary Short and Sweet

When it comes to writing easy-to-skim content, the shorter the paragraph, the better. Better yet, instead of creating a dense, wordy opening summary, keep the section brief by including 2-3 powerful branding statements instead.

Include Job-Specific Keywords

Keywords are still critical to passing ATS system screens. There are hundreds of different ATS systems in use and results can vary depending on the model and how the system is programmed. Still, basic rules apply – your keywords should reflect the job you’re applying to, and that means slight adjustments and customizations may be necessary if you’re applying for multiple job positions.

Keep Job Listing Details Results-Driven and Succinct

It’s easy to go overboard with the job descriptions on a resume but resist that urge. Focus instead on listing quantifiable key achievements versus daily functions. Remember: your resume should focus on the reader and what they care about is your record of results. Brevity is also important here so keep your list no more than 7 bullets per listing.

Focus Primarily on the Most Recent 10-12 years of Work Experience

Your recent experience is what most employers consider your most relevant. If you are changing careers or returning to a past career after more than 10 years, there are specific strategies that you can apply to highlight past work experience.

Keep Your Resume Length at 1-2 Pages

While I prefer not to focus on length when working on client resumes, I also can’t ignore the fact that recruiters and employers aren’t interested in leafing through resumes that are long enough to be considered a booklet. A 1 to 2-page resume is long enough to effectively demonstrate your capabilities.

Image Credit: Marten Newhall

Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? What about your LinkedIn? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850, email:, or text: 256-733-0560 to schedule a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 

Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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