Eye-Tracking – It Really is a Science, and It Impacts Your Resume

When people read, their eyes move in specific patterns, dependent upon what they are reading and the environment in which they are reading. Recent studies on recruiters who read applicant resumes, usually online, demonstrated that there are some very specific eye-tracking behaviors that are common to them all. Applicants who are aware of these can fashion their resumes accordingly.

Some Initial Information

Count slowly to 6. That is the amount of time that recruiters, according to the studies, spend “reading” each resume before them. They looked for the name, the current position, the previous position and education. Beyond that, they looked for keywords that match the position in question. It should also be noted that when they access a LinkedIn profile, they spend almost as much time looking at the candidate’s picture as they do on the resume.

Eye-Tracking Behaviors

  1. The first stop of the eye will be center top, the part that has your name. Your contact information does not have to be there and probably should not be. You do not want any more of that 6 seconds spent there than necessary. If there is interest, the recruiter will find your contact information down at the bottom of the page.
  2. The recruiter’s eyes will move to the left margin, because this is where the information regarding your current and previous employment will be placed. Be very careful here. You want the left margin words to be hooks and as stunning as possible. When you list accomplishments under an employer, do not begin with a statement like:”Increased department revenue from $230,000 to $700,000 over a three- year period.” The work “increased” is a non-starter. Consider this instead:“3X revenue increase in three years as Department Head.”The recruiter will stop and read a phrase that begins this way.
  3. The rest of what is read will only be scanning the resume for keywords. So, you had better have them in your bulleted items. How do you get those keywords?A. You read the job description very carefully and pick up on words or phrases that are used by the recruiter in describing the position. As you describe your employment experience, insert these words and/or phrases.

B. You access the company’s website – look at the mission statement, read through the “about us” section. Here you will find words and phrases that are important to the company’s image, its culture, and its future growth goals. Use these words in the resume if you can find a place to logically insert them.

Other Considerations

A lot has been written lately about resume design, and this is pretty critical. Eye tracking is certainly something of which you need to be aware. However, remember as well that eyes will stop their normal tracking if there is something that “pops” out. For this reason, there is a great deal of creativity in play now.

If you want to stop the normal eye tracking, add some color, put in a small chart or graph, or add another graphic that will be captivating. If you don’t feel you can bring this design creativity to your resume, research web design consultants, look at their work, and select one that you believe will be a “fit” for you.