7.4 seconds to skim a resumé

Published at 17th May 2021 14:50

In a 2018 study, Ladders, one of the world's leading job sites for high-income jobs, revealed how much time experienced recruiters spend screening submitted resumes.

Using an "Eye Tracking" technique, they discovered that 7.4 seconds were spent screening a CV on average. "Skimming" is probably a more accurate term.

When embarking on one of the company's most expensive investments, 7.4 seconds is not much. So it doesn't take long before a CV is deemed unsuitable.

And, because we all know that bias is an unavoidable companion in the recruitment process, you as an applicant should consider yourself lucky if you're not struck by whatever bias the recruiter has.

So there is something that suggests that the screening phase is, to a much greater extent, a Beauty Contest, with the winner being the one who manages to make the most captivating visual expression. The appearance of the CV plays a much more significant role than most people believe.

According to the study, the CVs that received the most attention had a readable CV that accommodated reading in an F or E pattern. (Which most people are unlikely to understand, let alone comply with, as to why the applicant is already behind on points, regardless of whether he has a perfect competence match).

Furthermore, the CVs shared the following characteristics:

  • An appealing and straightforward layout
  • Headings with asterisks
  • A legible font
  • Information is scarce
  • Concise sentences
  • A logical structure

In other words, when skimming... sorry – Screening CVs, a lot of factors come into play that has nothing to do with the applicants' competencies. And what one recruiter thinks is nice may not be the same as what another person thinks is nice. As a result, taste and pleasure play a role.

All else being equal, this could mean that many talents are overlooked because the applicant who should have been the top candidate was not the best CV writer on the planet.

Can one afford to place higher demands on a screening process when dealing with one of the company's most expensive investments?