We hear it all the time: the average recruiter spends six seconds scanning your resume. That’s right, six seconds decides your future.

So how to you pass this test? How do you, second by second, impress a recruiter enough to earn a second look – and perhaps win the interview?

To help answer those questions, here is exactly what I look for when I glance at your resume the first time – and determine pass or fail.

Second 1: Keywords

This isn’t for me. It’s for the Applicant Tracking System my company (and most companies) use to filter out unqualified applicants.

Don’t be intimidated, though. Use of keywords does not need to be complicated. After all, the right keywords are found in almost every job description. Just use the employer’s own words to customize your resume and you should be in great shape. Want to go the extra mile? Use common industry terms to demonstrate knowledge of your craft. To show you’re a good fit at a specific company, use the exact words from their careers page to describe your personal culture.

Fail to include these relevant keywords – and your resume won’t last one second.

Second 2: Social Media Links

Like many decision makers, I live in a digital world – so I want to see links to your career-relevant social media profiles.

Typically, LinkedIn and Twitter are enough to show a professional presence. If you would also like to send me to link to Facebook and other sites, that is fine. Just know I will use whatever I see on these more personal websites to help make my decision about you.

Why do I care about your social media presence in second two of my resume review? Because if I’m interested in talking with you, I’m going to check you out online anyway. And you get extra points for making that part of my job easier.

Second 3: White Space

Yes, white space counts, a lot.

If your resume is packed into a document at 0.4” margins and 9 point fonts with no space between sections and paragraphs – this shows me you’re trying WAY too hard. Essentially, your resume is screaming “I’m desperate to impress… please like me!”

Don’t kill your resume in 3 seconds. Let white space serve as a brain pause for the reader of your resume – and allow them a moment to think about your fit in this role.

Second 4: Numbers

When I look at a resume, I don’t care WHAT you did at your last job. I want to see evidence that you were good at your job.

That means your resume must contain quantified statements like “exceeded quota by 132%”, “Met deadlines in 97% of assigned projects” and “managed highly successful event for 500 donors.” Even a more generic “consistently in the Top 5% of my team” is better than nothing – and shows you understand how performance is measured.

No quantified statements on your resume? Your resume didn’t make it four seconds, and I’m now looking for another candidate who can clearly demonstrate how they made a real impact.

Second 5: Social Proof

What is “social proof”?

Simply put, social proof is evidence that you are who you say are. For example, if you say you are an accomplished marketer, I should see evidence to support that claim. Perhaps industry awards, endorsements by an industry expert or being named to a “Top 50” list.

Through links in your resume, show me proof of your relevant accomplishments. And by second five, you are well on your way to impressing me. Without those links, you’re just another applicant taking about themselves in rosy, perhaps exaggerated, terms.

Second 6: Leadership

This is the last major obstacle in your path. Why? Because employers don’t just want you to be a good employee now. They are looking for good leaders three years from now.

Have you been a leader? Do you embrace assignments well outside your job description – and maybe well outside your comfort zone? Do you accept the responsibility of building a good team? Or… are you the type that just does what you’re told in the background?

If I can tell you are the type that leads, regardless of the title at your last job, you have passed my six second test. And you are on well your way to an interview, and perhaps a job.

Apply this six second test to your resume. Then ask yourself… will you pass, or fail?

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