“Practice makes perfect”.  This phrase can be applied to a lot of situations and, when it comes to reviewing a resume, it is quite true. After reviewing innumerable resumes and profiles, recruiters and hiring managers are proficient at finding pertinent information when skimmed quickly.  Business Insider reported in 2012 that the average is 6-seconds to review a resume for job-fit – I’ve seen other reports expand that skim time to 15 seconds.

Business Insider shows the initial review of a resume includes:

  • current title and company,
  • current position start and end dates,
  • previous title and company,
  • previous position start and end dates, and
  • education

A well-organized, visually pleasing resume makes a strong first impression when a resume is skimmed.

Help Recruiters/Hiring Managers see what you offer

Content that Can be Skimmed

  • The more concise your resume, the more detail is absorbed.
  • Address skills/experience mentioned in the job ad for which you are applying


  • Use simple fonts – use sans-serif fonts like Arial and Calibri as they look good in smaller sizes
  • Use no more than two fonts – one for headers, one for body text

White Space

Spacing is important for visual cues and gives the eyes a place to rest.  Thus, separating sections creates the hierarchy that allows for the comprehension of skimmed information in a short timeframe.

  • Keep the headers and the associated content together to bring clarity
  • Use less space between section title and content and more space between individual sections
  • Showcase your communication skills – be selective in what you include to keep the document from appearing crammed

Long Paragraphs can’t be Skimmed

A resume is a sales document, not a novel.  So, use key bullet points to give the reader a brief overview of your qualifications and experience.  Most importantly, strategically organize your information.

Position Titles

Within every industry, there are “typical” position titles.  While some companies have fancy titles, regardless of your current internal position title, if there is a generic position title for what you do, we suggest you use that on your resume.  However, you can always put your actual title in a bracket following.  The key is to get the information noticed when the resume is skimmed. E.g. – use Agronomist instead of Crop Input Marketing

Do the 6-second Test

Ask a friend for help. Share the position for which you are applying and, within 6-seconds, have them attempt to find at least five details on your resume that align with the description.

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