Jobseekers are quick to show their disdain when the “8-second résumé review” is mentioned.

Why shouldn’t they be frustrated? Many (not all) jobseekers take time and care to apply for a position and in the end, IF they even manage to get their paperwork in front of a hiring professional, then all they can expect to get is 8 seconds. Eight seconds! That’s it?

Why you can trust the HR process:

Although it may seem impossible for a reader to get what they need when viewing a résumé for only 8 seconds, both human resource professionals and recruiters are masters at what they do. It’s not only possible to get what they need, but these professionals can do this on a consistent basis. It’s actually quite remarkable.

After speaking to numerous recruiters and Human Resource professionals, I came away with a heightened respect for their process to bring consistently positive results.

African business woman looking for workers

These people are top-notch efficiency experts! They know what they are doing and they spend a lot of time looking at résumés. It stands to reason that they follow carefully selected processes and highly sharpened skill sets. Again, they are masters at what they do!

I believe we should remember that there is a lot at stake when choosing someone to fill a job. A bad hire is a nightmare for a company both in productivity as well as the financial bottom line. This means that HR professionals and recruiters can’t afford to make errors. Since they are held accountable for the people they bring into a company, I believe that they are meticulous when finding the right person for the job.

Why you only get eight seconds for a résumé review:

Imagine that you are a recruiter and you have been assigned to find the ideal candidate to fill a role as a project manager on the business side. This position is for a company that builds websites for a variety of clients that offer services and products. This includes law firms, niche high-end online retail stores, small community banks, and regional non-profit organizations.

The criterion that you have been given by the client includes approximately ten qualifications. Most of them are the usual concerns around communication, time management and decision making in a time-critical environment and so forth.

However, three qualifications are especially important to this client. They “prefer” someone who has the following:

  • Project Management Professional certification (PMP®)
  • Experience managing budgets between $500K and $1M
  • Experience gathering and interpreting User Experience (UX) metrics

Now you know the top qualifications and you are faced with hundreds of résumés. Further, you may have between 10 and 20 other clients with positions that you are also trying to fill. Efficiency becomes survival.

It would make sense to quickly select ONLY those people who have a PMP® certification. This means that everyone else has been eliminated, at least temporarily. From there, you can check for the criterion in the remaining bullet points.

How long does it take to check for a PMP® certification? Yep…probably about eight seconds. If the résumés are accessible as searchable documents, then a quick search of a file would take less time.

If there aren’t enough candidates that have the PMP® certification, then a second look at the résumé stack may bring those people with UX metrics into the pool. The process continues in
elimination rounds. In the end, there are approximately 8 to 10 résumés for consideration.

Depending on the set-up of an Application Tracking System (ATS) candidates who do not have the required designations may have already been eliminated.

And so goes the process. Eight seconds is more than enough time to find the most qualified candidates.

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Top Résumé Tips:

Now that we have some insight into how a résumé is viewed in only eight seconds, it is possible to do the following:

  • If you have ANY of the “preferred” qualifications—place them “front and center” on the first page.
  • Identify the requirements for the position that will have greater import. E.g. “Time management” can be assumed, but experience with IT projects directly applies to the position. Then place those requirements where there is top visibility.
  • Eliminate information that is a distraction or has marginal bearing on the activities in the job description.

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Master the jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.

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