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7.4 seconds, and why keeping it simple matters

I’ve had the opportunity to work on several uniquely different resumes this week, and I’ve noticed that we seem to be drifting back to what might be “trendy” in resume styles. After years of a relatively calm job market, things are heating back up again. And as it does, more job seekers are searching for an edge, something that makes them stand out to the hiring manager.

But what if I told you that the most effective trend is to keep it simple?

Have you ever sat through a presentation where someone felt the need to fill every second of dead air? Instead of a quiet pause, so listeners could digest what was said, they fill that time with unnecessary noise of some sort. Well, the same can be said about your resume. But your quiet pause is the white space, and the “noise” is what’s irrelevant to the job you want to apply to.

Here's the thing about resume trends. Forget all about them! Trends can be great for the "creatives" in specific industries, but for the most part, we want to avoid them.

In 2018 the job site Ladders updated their “Eye-Tracking Study”, and while recruiters now spend an extra 1.4 seconds on each resume, little else has genuinely changed. A clean layout is still the best for design formatting, making it easy for recruiters to see superficial details like job titles, text flow, and keywords.

Don’t be afraid of white space. Some of the worst performing resumes are those that are cluttered with long sentences, and multiple columns to try and cram as much information in as possible. Clean layouts with italicized job titles, bolded sections to catch the recruiters eye, and a bulleted list of accomplishments are performing better than ever before.

Let’s not forget keywords either, but use them properly. In your bulleted list of accomplishments for each job, use them in context here. Don’t try to “plug and play” keywords, instead pair them with your skills and achievements to truly show the impact you’ve made in previous roles. If you’ve done your homework on the company, make sure to highlight your skills and prior successes that could help with a known “problem area,” they may be facing.

You now have a whopping 7.4 seconds, make them matter!

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