How To Beat the 10-second Resume Test

Recruiters and the 10-second rule

Candidates are surprised to hear that experienced recruiters can look at a resume for under 10 seconds, and make a judgment on whether they are qualified or not. But, how can you possibly get across your career accomplishments in just a few seconds?

Your main goal in creating your resume is to make the recruiter interested enough to give you a call, but with thousands of different resume styles and formats, you’ll never please all recruiters on style alone. By emphasizing just a few things on your resume, you will be able to satisfy almost everyone, yet still have the freedom to create a resume with your own style.

The secret is perspective

The secret to creating a strong resume, is to try and see it through the eyes of a recruiter. There are four main things that a recruiter confirms before digging down into a resume further. These four things are LocationJob TitlesDates of Employment, and Education. This is where the “10 second” rule comes in, because it only takes that long to see if a candidate matches up on those 4 key points. Make sure to make these stand out as much as possible so they are an easy find.

1. Location: Your address should be in your contact information, but if there is a long commute or a relocation is necessary, consider adding a line of why you are applying for the job if it is far from home.

2. Job Titles: Make sure each position listed in your resume has a job title. For a general title (such as Account Manager) or a title that is rare for companies to see, try to explain the jist of the title in the text.

3. Dates of Employment: Make sure to list dates of employment for every position, adding the month especially for shorter stints. Recruiters don’t know if 2015-2016 means Dec 2015-Jan 2016 (2 months), or Jan 2015-Dec 2016 (nearly 2 years). It can also be helpful to list reasons for leaving, which can alleviate concerns if you have been hopping jobs.

4. Education: Make sure to list both the level of degree/certificate you earned, and your major. A common mistake is a resume with incomplete education listed, which leads me to question what your degree is or even if you graduated.

Identify outstanding experiences

With these as clear as possible, you can start to dive into the meat of your resume, which will explain your accomplishments, duties, and appropriate keywords. Once again, try to see the heart of your resume through the recruiter’s eyes. Look at a job description, try asking yourself, “What experiences do I have that would stand out to a recruiter for this particular posting?”

It can be disappointing to find out that your professional life may be judged in the blink of an eye. But instead of getting discouraged, meet the recruiters halfway by creating a resume that passes the 10-second test, and generates more curiosity. Once you get to an interview, that will be your chance to describe in detail everything that is on your resume and all your future potential.