Job recruiters spend only six seconds on average reviewing an individual candidate's resume to determine whether the person is a potential fit for an open position, according to a recent study by TheLadders.

That compares with 4-5 minutes per resume on average that recruiters have self-reported in the past.

The report was based on data from an eye-tracking study of 30 professional recruiters who were monitored over a 10-week period as they they performed online tasks, including resume and candidate profile reviews.

Below, key findings from the study.

What Recruiters Look For

The recruiters studied spent almost 80% of their resume review time on the following elements:

  • Candidate's name
  • Current title/company
  • Previous title/company
  • Previous position start and end dates
  • Current position start and end dates
  • Education

Beyond those six, recruiters did little more than scan for keywords to match the open position.

Because "fit/no-fit" decisions were based mostly on those six pieces of data, an individual resume’s detail and explanatory copy had little impact on the initial decision-making.

How They View Resumes and Online Profiles

Recruiters tend to follow a consistent visual path when reviewing both resumes and online profiles, the study found. Accordingly, an organized layout is crucial.

On a scale of 1 to 7, recruiters gave professionally re-written resumes an average rating of 6.2 for usability, compared with a 3.9 rating before the re-write.

On LinkedIn profiles, recruiters spent an average of 19% of their total time per candidate looking at the profile picture.

About the research: The report was based on data from an eye tracking study of 30 professional recruiters who were monitored over a 10-week period.

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Media, a marketing agency specializing in content and social media services for tech firms. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji