How Long Do Employers Look at Resumes? (With Resume Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Recruiters only look at a resume for 7 seconds* before they decide whether or not they want to learn more about that candidate. Indeed’s Career Guide resources offer tips to make your resume stand out. So you can find better work.

Writing an engaging resume may be crucial for convincing an employer you have the capabilities to conduct the position's duties. How employers view resumes is not a standardised task in recruitment, so there are some helpful steps you can take to ensure your potential employer reads your entire resume. Exploring some resume writing tips can help you develop a resume that gains the hiring manager's attention. In this article, we answer the question 'How long do employers look at resumes?', outline what they typically prioritise reading on resumes and share some tips for creating an engaging resume.

How long do employers look at resumes?

The answer to the question 'How long do employers look at resumes?' depends on many factors. For example, if a hiring manager has hundreds of resumes to review, they might only read your resume for a few seconds. If they're only evaluating a few resumes, they might analyse your resume more carefully and read every section. How long they read your resume might also depend on your resume's relevancy. If your resume doesn't address the job's required credentials, the hiring manager might deem you unsuitable for the role and stop reading your resume.

Another factor to consider is the hiring manager's method for reviewing resumes. Large enterprises that receive many resumes might use an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is a software application that scans job applications and ranks them according to their relevancy to the job listing. A hiring manager may only review the resumes that the ATS deems relevant. If your resume relates to the job listing, the hiring manager may conduct an in-depth review of your resume, as the ATS already deemed you a suitable candidate. On average, employers look at resumes for six to seven seconds.

Related: How to Create a Stand-Out Resume (With Template and Example)

What do employers look for in resumes?

If you want hiring managers to spend a substantial amount of time reviewing your resume, it's a good idea to ensure your resume relates to the vacant role's requirements. You can relate your resume to the job requirements by including sections that hiring managers typically prioritise. Below, you can explore some elements that hiring managers typically look for in resumes:

Formatting

Your resume formatting is beneficial to focus on, as it can determine your resume's readability and professionalism. If you have a neat resume with sections detailing your credentials in a logical and easy-to-view manner, hiring managers may feel inclined to read your resume. Your resume formatting can also be beneficial for ensuring compatibility with ATS systems. If your resume has many formatting styles with creative visuals and borders, an ATS system may struggle to scan your resume. For this reason, it's usually a good idea to create a resume with simple formatting.

Related: Example of a Simple Resume That Can Get You Hired

Skills

A primary credential that employers may search for on your resume is your skills. These skills represent your soft and technical skills. Soft skills refer to your interpersonal qualities and attributes that help you conduct many duties. For example, your communication skill is a soft skill you can apply to almost any task. Your technical skills refer to your competencies and abilities to conduct specific duties that often relate to the vacant job role. For example, if you're applying for a software engineering position, your ability to use different programming languages may be your technical skills.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

Education

Depending on the job you're applying for, the first section employers might view is your education. This section typically outlines your qualifications, such as university degrees and certifications. Hiring managers usually prioritise this section if qualifications are a requirement for the job role. For example, to become an engineer, you typically require a bachelor's or master's degree relevant to engineering. If you're applying for a doctor's position, the hiring manager may want to identify your medical qualifications. They may prioritise your education section because it proves you have the capabilities to learn complex processes relevant to the job role.

Related: How to Write a Student Resume (With Template and Examples)

Work experience

Hiring managers typically favour candidates with relevant work experience. Your experience can show hiring managers you have the practical abilities to conduct tasks and duties in the industry. For example, if you're applying for a registered nurse job, the hiring manager may want to determine if you have experience in a nursing role. Your work experience can be in any position, provided it relates to the vacant job and shares transferable skills and duties. Depending on the job role and the hiring manager, your work experience might be your most important resume section.

Related: How to Show Work Experience on Your Resume (With Example and Tips)

Keywords

Keywords on a resume typically represent important credentials for candidates to possess that are specific to a job listing. For example, if an engineering role requires a bachelor's degree in engineering, the phrase bachelor's degree in engineering may likely be a keyword. A keyword might also be a single word that usually represents a skill, such as communication, awareness, integrity and teamwork. Including keywords on your resume is an excellent idea because they can ensure you address the job requirements. They can also be crucial for receiving a high ranking from ATS systems.
Related: How to Use Resume Keywords to Improve Your Job Application

Professional summary

The first section on your resume, after your contact details, is typically your professional summary. It might be the first section the hiring manager views. Your professional summary is typically two or three sentences describing the main credentials and attributes that make you a suitable candidate. This can be an extremely important section on your resume because hiring managers with an extensive number of resumes to view might only read the professional summaries. It's an excellent idea to ensure your professional summary includes your most impressive credentials and achievements.

Related: How to Write a Resume Summary With Examples

How to create an engaging resume

Below, you can explore five helpful tips for how to create an engaging resume that may encourage hiring managers to consider you a suitable candidate:

1. Use a resume template

There are many free online resources you can use, such as resume templates and examples, that can help you create an engaging resume. A template is usually very helpful because it can outline appropriate formatting and sequences of information that can engage hiring managers. Some templates may be for specific job roles, such as an accountant or software engineer. Other templates may be for employment circumstances, such as returning to work after a long break or applying for your first career.

Related: Finding the Best Resume Template (With Tips and Examples)

2. Use a simple resume format

A simple resume format is typically better than a complex one. If your resume has a simple format, hiring managers may find it more enjoyable to read, as they can identify information easily and review it quickly. A simple format may also be beneficial if the hiring organisation utilise an ATS in its recruitment strategy. If you have a simple resume format, the ATS can easily scan your resume and identify keywords, improving the likelihood of a hiring manager viewing your job application. There are usually many free templates you can use that are compatible with most ATS systems.

Related: ATS Resume Format Guide (With Template and Example)

3. List information in reverse chronological order

If your resume sections include credentials with dates, it's an excellent idea to ensure you list them in reverse chronological order. This means you list the most recent credentials first. For example, if you have several years of work experience with multiple employers, you can list your most recent employment first. You can apply the same to your education section, in that you may list your most recent qualification or degree first. This is a good idea because if the hiring manager only reviews one of your credentials, the first one they read is your most recent.

Related: Resume Format Guide (with Examples)

4. Include your most impressive credentials first

Similar to listing information in reverse chronological order, if you list your most impressive resume sections first, it can ensure the hiring manager reviews them first. For example, if you have limited work experience but extensive education with a master's degree, it may be better to include your education section immediately after your professional summary. The purpose of this is often to ensure an excellent first impression.

5. Limit your resume to one page

If hiring managers have a substantial number of resumes to review, they might feel discouraged by long resumes that are over one page. It's a good idea to limit your resume to one page, as it will be easier for the hiring manager to read. If you have many important credentials to discuss but can't fit them on one page, you can consider including a cover letter with your job application.

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