The Six-Second Test

  • Posted by: Chaloner

This week’s blog post is written by Chaloner’s Jenn Saldarelli. Jenn is a senior associate at Chaloner and has spent a decade in executive search. She has led searches for mid- and senior-level communications and marketing professionals for non-profits, Fortune 500 organizations and PR agencies large and small.

You may think the content of a resume is more important than its cosmetics, but I’ve seen thousands of resumes over my years as a recruiter, and can attest that the appearance and design of a resume can be the difference between a candidate’s success and failure. This week, I’m going to offer simple design and formatting tips for both appearance and function that will make your submission materials as impressive as you are.

Make it easy to read.
Statistics show that a hiring manager looks over your resume for a mere six seconds before deciding whether or not you’re a candidate worth pursuing. It’s important that your resume allows those six seconds to be free of confusion or decoding. Unless you’re a creative director, don’t go crazy with colors or off-the-beaten-path formatting. Choose a standard and easy to read font. Make sure your resume is consistent in its language; don’t switch between passive and active voices or past and present tenses from bullet point to bullet point. Make sure all your bullet points begin the same way, preferably a verb (i.e. “Led a small team to redesign and launch our company’s intranet”). Lastly, send the resume as a PDF file so your font and formatting are secure no matter what computer is opening it.

Double-check your technology.
In today’s digital world, I encourage candidates to embrace technology and hyperlink to examples of work and to social channels in their resume (i.e. including the LinkedIn profile link that directs the hiring manager to your page). This proves that you’re digitally savvy. It also minimizes work for the hiring manager to hunt down your information or work online. Always assume that a hiring manager is going online to verify your credentials (more on that next week!) and update your LinkedIn accordingly. Double check that your dates on your resume match up to what you’re representing on your LinkedIn as well. One additional tip: If you link to examples of your work that live on the Internet (i.e. published news stories), make sure the web pages still exist and don’t require a paid subscription to be viewed.

Don’t overshare.
A resume that’s overly dense with text, details every job dating back to high school, or shares every responsibility you’ve ever held in a role is going to overwhelm and, to be frank, bore the hiring manager. It’s visually daunting to look at three pages of solid text, so utilize blank space, and embrace brevity. If your resume is intriguing enough, you’ll get to the opportunity to go into more detail in person. Another way to overshare is to include information on your resume that provides your political views or affiliation. Unless you’re applying to work on a campaign or another politically geared job, leave it off! You don’t want to accidentally burn a bridge with information irrelevant to your aptitude.

Follow these tips and you’re bound to have a sharp-looking professional resume a hiring manager can clearly read. Not sure if yours will make the cut? Ask a friend to give it the six-second test and see how much of your professional experience they can glean in that one glance!