How Long Do Hiring Managers Look at a Resume?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 8, 2022 | Published June 8, 2021

Updated July 8, 2022

Published June 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Although the amount of time an employer looks at a resume can vary depending on the company you've applied to, it's important to think about how to improve your resume so that a hiring manager wants to look at it longer. Learning about recruiter resume scan times and how to create a more scannable resume may help to increase your chances of getting a job interview. In this article, we discuss how long employers look at resumes, what employers look for on a resume and tips to help your resume pass the initial scan.

How long do employers look at resumes?

On average, employers look at resumes for six to seven seconds. However, the amount of time that an employer spends looking at a resume varies from company to company. Some employers may thoroughly scan a resume, while others may scan it for only a few seconds. The number of applicants for a particular position can also play a factor in this assessment.

For instance, if there are only a few applicants, the employer may look at all of the resumes thoroughly. If there are many applicants, however, then the employer may hire a recruiter or hiring manager to quickly review the resumes or use an automatic resume scanning system. Although there's no definitive time frame for how long an employer looks at a resume, you can try to focus on improving the elements of your resume that are most typically reviewed.

What do employers look for when scanning resumes?

Related: Where to Include Skills on a Resume

Sinead explains the best places to include skills on a resume including how to format a “Skills” or “Core Competencies” section.

Here are some elements that employers look for when scanning a resume:

Formatting

Employers look at the format of a resume because it helps them to determine how well you've organized the information. A resume that is easy to read allows the employer to find the information they want in a timely manner. This element is especially important for employers who receive large quantities of resumes and need to quickly review them.

Relevant work history

In the limited time that an employer looks at a resume, relevant work history is one of the most important elements to feature. A company may assess your current employer to determine how long you've worked there and to better understand the responsibilities you fulfill in that role. Companies may also look for these details about your past work to learn how long you typically work in a position and identify if you're a senior or entry-level applicant.

Read more: How To Write Your Resume Employment History (With Examples)

Educational background

There are many jobs that require applicants to obtain a certain level of education. An employer may immediately look at this section to determine whether you qualify for the position. While it's an important element, the relevancy of your educational background depends on the type of job you're applying for and the employer's hiring standards.

Accomplishments

Employers look for the accomplishments section of the resume because this indicates your most notable achievements and shows how your contributions and professional skills impacted your previous workplaces. Many employers like to see examples of your prior work and accomplishments because it helps them to envision the types of contributions you may be able to provide them at their company if hired.

Read more: Listing Accomplishments on Your Resume (With Examples)

Content

Employers look for resumes that provide content that's applicable to the job description and relevant to the requirements of the position. They review the content to determine if the applicant can successfully perform the responsibilities of the job and if it details any special skills that are especially useful for the job. By including the right content, you might be able to encourage a hiring manager to spend more time looking at your resume.

Online profile or resume link

An online profile or resume is a complementary addition to a resume that allows the employer to access your digital work history and professional profile. Some employers look for this element because it can give them a more in-depth look at your online work presence and your professional connections. There are many online resume websites and professional social media channels that employers may review. An online profile also provides additional content such as your professional headshot, links to work samples and blog posts.

Read more: How To Build an Online Resume Website

Tips to help your resume pass scanning

When thinking about ways to make your resume more scannable, consider that the easier the resume is to read, the quicker a recruiter can find the most important information. You can help to improve a hiring manager's engagement with your resume by following these tips:

Consult a professional

There are freelance writers who are skilled at crafting resumes for many types of professionals. These writers understand how to make a resume more customized for a specific job role by emphasizing your most relevant and marketable professional information. If you're interested in outsourcing your resume to an expert, there are many resume writers available online.

Read more: The Definitive Guide To Resume Writing Services

Simplify your resume format

You can help your resume pass scanning by simplifying your resume's format. Simplifying the format means minimizing visual elements and creative embellishments. It also refers to using clear section titles and headers and ensuring that you edit all the information to be accurate and free of errors.

Read more: How To Create a Simple Resume Format (With Template and Examples)

Try the F-pattern or E-pattern layout

To increase the chances of your resume passing scanning, you can try to format your resume with the F-pattern or E-pattern layout. These are layouts that imitate how the human eye scans online webpages, which may hold the employer's attention longer. These layouts simply refer to aligning the information on your document in the general shape of an F or an E instead of using center alignment or a classic left-to-right alignment.

Prioritize your skills and expertise at the top

Your skills and expertise are primarily what the employer is looking for from a potential candidate, so emphasizing this information can provide further clarification as to why your capabilities and expertise are applicable to the role. You can try putting this information at the top of the resume where the recruiter or employer can easily find it.

Trim down your resume

A resume is easier to scan when it's short and precise. To accomplish this, try to limit your resume to one or two pages at most. When your resume is shorter, the recruiter or employer can review all the information much more quickly, which gives them more time to engage with the most important details.

Related: Resume Mistake: Listing Your Characteristics as Skills

Holl, a career coach, presents a common mistake when crafting a resume and gives examples to help you distinguish skills from characteristics and traits.


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