Job Search Checklist #7: The 6 second resume

Sep 5 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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Next step on your job search checklist … learn how to create a 6 second resume.

What’s a 6 second resume?

You may remember TheLadders’ recent heatmap research study, showing that resume readers make a qualified/disqualified decision in the first 6 seconds. A 6 second resume is geared towards passing the 6 second decision, the first decision a reader makes about your resume.

To pass a visual review, your resume must first pass the 6 second qualified test, based on the first impression your resume gives your reader … your personal brand.

Let’s discuss the 6 second resume in more detail, to give you a better chance at passing this first decision point.

The 6 Second Resume:

An effective 6 second resume helps you pass the qualified/unqualified test.

In 6 seconds, how much can a HR rep, recruiter or hiring manager actually read? Can they read enough to tell if you’re qualified or not?

Of course they can’t … so your resume’s reader makes a decision if you’re qualified based on first impressions and gut feel, because that’s all they have time for in 6 seconds.

So the real question in the 6 second resume is … what first impression does your resume give? Most resumes give a first impression that is confusing, conflicting and brands the writer as a commodity. Most resumes try cram so much stuff in the beginning part, that it’s no wonder that they make a confusing and conflicting first impression … because the resume writer is throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

To give yourself a fighting chance to pass the 6 second test, your first impression needs to be:

  1. Crystal Clear: Make your personal branding statement clear about the exact job being applied for. It’s simple – list the exact job title. Don’t list a generic title like Manufacturing Executive – that’s a general description, not a job title.
  2. Superior candidate: Make your personal branding statement clear about why you’re a superior candidate, who has already solved similar problems to priority issues currently faced by the hiring manager. This is impossible to do unless you first know the hiring manager’s current priorities, goals, roadblocks, challenges and opportunities. Few candidates do the research to know this critical information before writing a personal branding statement. Instead, most candidates guess … and guess wrong.
  3. Consistent: A strong personal branding statement is consistent with your goals (You’re thinking, Duh!). You’d be amazed that few resumes accomplish what seems like a simple and obvious task – consistency with goals. Then make sure that your resume is also consistent with supporting information … the rest of your resume.
  4. Concise: You’ve got just 6 seconds to get your reader to internalize your personal brand into their gut. Your reader makes the 6 second decision in a snap based on first impressions, so you’ve got to be concise. You can’t make that first impression in a half of a page, or even in a paragraph. Your reader can’t absorb that much in 6 seconds. Any more than a single line gets lost in the shuffle.

To make a first impression that you’re qualified and stay in consideration, you’ve got to be clear, superior, consistent, and concise.

You can’t accomplish this in a half page. You can’t accomplish this from a listing of 25 key skills. You can’t pass the qualified test by listing your accomplishments. You can’t even accomplish this in a paragraph. They are all way to much for your reader to absorb in just 6 seconds.

Instead, boil it all down to a clear, consistent and concise sentence that brands you as a superior candidate, so your reader feels it in their gut …

… that you’re not only qualified but that you’re a candidate they must see.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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