Make Sure Your Resume Survives The Six Seconds Test


When writing or revising your resumé, you ought to look at it as an advertisement you’re putting out in the job market. It is one advertisement among many thousands, competing for attention. How do you get your resumé to catch a recruiter’s eye? And how do you convince them — quickly — that you’re the perfect fit for the job they’re looking to close?

Your Resume Has Only Six Seconds

According to research, recruiters spend an average of only six seconds on each resumé. That’s why the summary at the top is so important. Just as headlines act as filters that help us make quick decisions about which news items to spend time on, the summary of your resumé should catch the attention of a recruiter almost instantly. Recruiters must scan quickly through hundreds of resumes every day. So if your summary isn’t powerful, chances are you won’t make it into the Yes basket.

Your summary should introduce you by highlighting your most important skills and achievements. Remember to read the job description carefully, taking note of any words that match your knowledge, skills, and achievements. Then ensure that there is evidence in your resume that shows you have demonstrated the skills the role requires. Include relevant projects, certifications and courses, and key details about your previous employers that give recruiters insights into your capabilities. Choose the the three most compelling of these to include in your summary.

Example: “Six sigma certified analyst who enjoys solving business problems using statistical techniques.”

Example: “In-depth experience in leading planning, procurement, distribution and logistics for a $400 million garment chain.”

Make Your Resumé Interesting

Resume, Six SecondsWill your resumé convince the recruiting manager to go and tell the hiring team, “Here is a really interesting person you should consider”?

Here a few ways to make the information in your resumé stand out:

Look at the company’s website and find their mission and purpose. Is there something specific in your resumé that will resonate with the recruiter?
List any awards or achievements that show your leadership qualities or team work skills or any other “people skills” that differentiate you from others who are just as experienced.

Use quantitative metrics to describe your achievements.
Example: “Named the best team leader for three years in a row”

Example: “Led a team of 8 recruiting managers and closed 130 mid-level positions for FY 2016”

Example: “Managed the taxation and treasury function for a $20 million startup, making wearables for the elderly.”

One last piece of advice: Remember not to say anything in your summary that isn’t accurate or that isn’t listed below in your detailed resumé. You never want a recruiter to feel misled or disappointed.

What tips do you have to make a resume survive the six seconds test? Thanks for sharing your ideas



Written for Harvard Business Review Ascend on March 28, 2017

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  1. Hi Abhijit!!

    Thanks for this vital post, got to understand some hiring tactics that HR’s follow for recruiting the candidate, especially the six-second test which is the main context of your blog.

  2. Priyanka kakade says:

    Thank you sir
    .. Its usefull info for highlights resume for six second test

  3. Girish N says:

    Where should I put summary in my resume sir…

  4. Add it as the first para of your resume. Good luck Girish.

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