There are not a lot of things you can do in six seconds.  You can tie your tie, sing the chorus of a song, or, in the case of some HR recruiters, decide whether or not to toss a resume.  While this is not the case for all recruiters, it is important to ensure that your resume is strong enough to pass the six-second test in case it is put on the desk of an especially speedy recruiter.

Apply For Roles You Fit

First things first — are you a fit for the position?  If you start applying to multiple positions in different departments, hoping to get your dream job at a FAANG company, HR and hiring managers will notice and will question your credibility.  If you’re a Reactjs/Nodejs full stack developer with 1 year of experience, applying for a Principal Software Architect position, it is clear to recruiters that you are not aligned for such a job. The next step is to make sure your resume is up to speed.

Rethink Your Resume

Since resumes are read top-down, look at the order by which your resume is structured.  What’s in a name?  In this case, hopefully, it includes any certifications you’ve earned.  This quickly indicates to the reader that you have demonstrated proficiency in the field.  Here are some examples: John Doe, GCP Professional Cloud Architect & AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate; Jane Doe, MBA; Ivy Stamos, SAFe-SPCT5.  

Additionally, do you have a URL that directs the recruiter and/or hiring manager to your LinkedIn?  This is a great way to display more information than can fit on your resume, and also allows recruiters to see references you may have.  It’s important to note that your resume should not be copied and pasted from your LinkedIn profile.  Recruiters will check your online presence, so it’s important to know what they will see.  Your LinkedIn should show more of your voice and paint a bigger picture.  Your resume may have one bullet point with metrics surrounding your biggest project, but your LinkedIn should add context and details.  In doing so, you’ll impress the recruiter and have extra space to explain details that were cut from your final draft.

Make Sure Others Understand Your Resume

A good way to check the readability of your resume is to have a friend or family member who is in a different industry to read over your resume.  Do they understand what you do, or did they have to pause to research the terms you used?  Similarly, if you gave your resume to a stranger, would this person have a sense of what your job is, what your competencies are, and your biggest achievements?  If not, maybe it’s time to rethink the structure.  

On the topic of structure,  bullet points are your best friend.  Large blocks of text are daunting and hard to read.  Using bullet points will help recruiters quickly get an idea of the key points you want to share.  Similarly, use as many metrics as possible.  Numbers are easy to understand and a quantifiable way of showing your experience, and stick out to the reader.  Why do you think I started the title of this post with a number?  They draw people in!  Here are a couple of ideas for metrics you may not realize you have — led a team of 18 direct reports to increase velocity by 23% with same capacity, spent 60% of each day working with Python and GraphQL, met with cross-departmental stakeholders once a month to coordinate company efforts, saved the company $45,000 by identifying and fixing a production error.    

StackOverflow also recommends having a separate section to list the languages and technologies you have experience with.  However, you do not need to add a proficiency level.  If you know JavaScript, C++, and AWS well enough that you think it should go on your resume, then put it in your languages and technologies section.  Recruiters will dig into your knowledge, as seen in this StackOverflow blog post about hiring engineers, and lacking in one skill may cause them to question the reliability of the rest of your resume.  

All this being said, a resume’s sole purpose is to sell you as a candidate and get you an interview.  You can’t fit every great achievement onto a single page, so it’s important to prioritize the most relevant accomplishments and make the resume as easy to read as possible.  The hiring manager will thank you for it, hopefully with a phone screening!  

If you do pass the six-second test, in the next article we’ll share with you how to ace both technical and the traditional HR interview. 

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