Resumes Eye-Tracking Secrets

6 Eye-Tracking Secrets That Will Get Your Resume Read

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Technology is giving us clues into how people read online resumes—how their eyes travel over the page, where they pause, what they move to next. Dr. Jakob Nielsen, a pioneer in the field of usability, conducted an eye-tracking study on the reading habits of web users. The research study displayed that participants exhibited an F-shaped pattern when scanning web content.

Resumes Eye-Tracking Secrets

With this “F factor” in mind, when you are composing your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, or other career-comm documents, think about how you can position key information and impressive accomplishments in these areas. Doing so will increase the likelihood of readability and comprehension for recruiters and hiring managers.

Secrets That Will Get Your Resume Read

1. Use Keyword In Headings And Subheadings

Choose keywords for headings and subheadings when possible. For example, instead of “Professional Experience” as a category heading on your resume, consider “Sales Management Experience” or “Customer Service Experience” or other appropriate title. As recruiters scan the resume headings, they’ll get an extra dose of the keywords they’re looking for.

2. Position Impact Statements Near The Company Name

Since readers look for company names and dates as part of their first impression, consider adding a key impact statement or accomplishment between the company name (on left side of resume) and the date (on right side of resume), as this example with yellow highlighting shows:

Resumes Eye-Tracking Secrets

3. Lead With Info-Carrying Information

Front-load paragraphs and bullet points with info-carrying words, accomplishments, and/or numbers. For example, instead of saying “Developed strategy to boost untapped VA contract from $250K to $2.5M”, lead with “10-fold increase: Built VA contract from $250K to $2.5M.”

4. Use Graphics To Convey Key Information

Consider adding a graph or chart to convey important information. A picture IS worth a thousand words!

5. Keep Key Info Above The Fold

Keep the meatiest information up high on the page. Even though many resumes are read on a computer screen, the information near the first third to half of the page is still the most important real estate on the page/screen.

6. Center Important Points Near “F” Bars

Consider centering key information in a text-box, as the example below shows.

Resumes Eye-Tracking Secrets

Review your resume today and consider potential tweaks to increase its readability. Getting the “F Factor” into your resume may earn you an “A” in your job search!

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This article is part of our P.E.P. Talk Series. Over the next month, some of the brightest and best authors, business professionals, and coaches are coming together to share their valuable advice for breaking free of “The Golden Handcuff Effect” so you can take full ownership of your careers and experience Professional Emancipation.

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Susan Whitcomb

Careers author, speaker, and trainer, Susan Britton Whitcomb is a leading authority and media resource on career coach certification via www.TheAcademies.com

23 comments

  1. Very skeptical about this – the dreaded applicant tracking systems HATE graphics, columns, special callouts, and such. They will put your called-out accomplishment as a job title or worse.

    If only we had to worry about HUMANS, this would work, but with Resumator and other services, even small companies are going the electronic route.

  2. Most resumes today are scanned through Applicant Tracking Systems for key words.. I know for a fact over 75% of positions I apply for are below entry level and I could easily do them. However because I did not include 4-5 words in resume that was listed in thier ad I did not get called for interview. At the same token positions I KNOW I am not qualified for I will alter resum with few words listed in ad and sure enough I would get a callback an that’s m chance to sell myself o drop a referrals name.

  3. As many have already mentioned, charts, graphs, fancy fonts and formatting can wreak havoc with resume parsers which could wind up having your resume deleted. And frankly, when I see a resume like that I figure it’s to hide the fact that there’s not enough substance to the person’s career so they need to do something else to get my attention. As an executive recruiter, give me a clean formatted, straight forward resume any day. No fonts, no graphs, text boxes, logos, and please, if you’re a woman, do NOT put your name in a pink scripted font.

    • Very interested in your comment and if i was a recruiter would do and assume the same.

      However on another note how do i go about registering my CV with you?

      Kind regards

      Nigel

  4. Your example #2 does not look like an accomplishment. It looks like something related to company branding. Plus how many people can say something effective in that small space? It seems like the first bullet would be a better place.

    As others mentioned the formatting problems with many ideas would force you to email or upload a PDF – not always the most favored format for a Resume.

  5. So did you actually eye track professional recruiters and human resources staff as they evaluated resumes? Or did you take a generic study of eye tracking of web pages and try to apply it to the recruitment process?

  6. I had read about the “eye tracking study” when I was working on a project for redesigning a career site and we were trying to determine the best place to put content. I thinking the idea is similar to when someone is reading a resume online. Great information!

  7. A resume is the first opportunity of creating an image of yourself in the eyes of the employer. We must know each word which we have written in it like the back of our hand. I have come across many persons who make their resume in a format, which looks fanciful, and use words which sound good, without knowing exactly what it conveys.
    It is always advantageous to personally present a brighter picture than the one a resume creates in the mind of the reader, than turning out to be a disappointment.
    It is important to present factual details about yourself, which are relevant to the position you are applying for, and one must be prepared to honestly elaborate on the abilities and achievements spelt out in the Resume.

  8. Also, your resume doesn’t have to be squished into one page. If the type font is too small, it might frustrate some readers. Also, In this electronic, let’s not forget the importance of simple hand-written thank you notes!

  9. I Wonder if That F Shape would apply to any culture and honestly have some doubts. I could imagine if someone is, lets say Jewish, Arab or Japanese culture the scanning could be instinctively different. Keeping in mind that although you might send the resume to a company familiar to your culture, the person handling it in the HR must not, specially on globalized branches and places.
    And be aware of the profile of the company, catchy CV might not be a good idea in an traditional environment…

  10. Fascinating. I like that the article is based on study findings since it gives it credibility. Feedback on how a resume should be set up can vary significantly from one person to another. Research, however, is fact-based.

  11. Bonnie Rauwerdink

    I read a number of points that may cause trouble regarding ATS’s. Using nonstandard headings may be skipped by ATS because it won’t know to look for them. Graphics and charts may cause problems. I read that text boxes can be trouble too.

  12. the above suggestion was very nice. try to send me the imformation of writing an attractive resume format as an example.

  13. #4 and #6 will only work with human resume readers. Usually your resume is first scanned and a computer searches for key words and phrases. Any unusual formatting or images will render as unreadable.

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