Do Recruiters Spend Less than 10 Seconds Reading Your Resume?

A quick search of the internet will find many blogs claiming that recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reading a resume. I recently read an article published on LinkedIn that said recruiters spend less than six seconds per resume. The Ladders published an article that said recruiters took 6.25 seconds. It takes me that long just to work out where the candidate put their name. My question is this, how can people write this stuff, I don’t see the results of any studies being quoted and let’s face it, most of it seems to be opinion from self-proclaimed experts. The truth of the matter is this, recruiters spend considerably longer than 6 seconds or 10 seconds reading a resume, and to support this we decided to actually test it.

Step one was to get a sample of recruiters to read some resumes. The problem was of course that if we told them we were measuring how well they read resumes chances are they would spend more time reading them (test taking effect). So we changed our hypothesis and set about proving that recruiters can’t possibly read a resume in less than 10 seconds. Our method was to ask our subjects to read 5 resumes in 50 seconds (10 seconds each), and then ask them a series of questions. The findings are summarised below:

  • 10 recruiters participated.
  • 20% chose to read the front page only and then skim the remainder.
  • 0% of participants were able to answer all of the questions we asked.
  • The average number of correct answers was 5 out of 12 or 48%.
  • 100% of participants were unable to achieve 100% accuracy remembering qualifications.
  • 100% of participants were unable to achieve 100% accuracy remembering career history.

The especial person


Our research, demonstrated that recruiters, when asked to review resumes look at a couple of things first.

  1. They look at past job titles.
  2. They look at qualifications.
  3. Then, for some reason they look at name and address.
  4. Then, and this more often than not the case, put your resume down and come back to it after looking at other resumes and only if it is a close fit to the role they are recruiting.

What does this mean for the job seeker?

If the recruiter is rushed, and inevitably they are, chances are they won’t read your resume from front to back.

The most important thing for job seekers is to pass the initial skim test. Recruiters skim read the resume the first time so make it simple to select your resume for their “A” pile.

It is easy to do this, the hard part is knowing what the recruiter is looking for and then making sure they find that information in your resume. Once you’ve cracked this challenge then you should get an interview each time you apply for a job.


A complete version of this article appears in our Members Library

Peter Giannas – Project Human Resources

Peter has over 20 years in the delivery of Outplacement, Career Transition, Psychometric Testing and Recruitment Services. He has multiple post graduate qualifications in psychology including organisational and education psychology and has owned and operated his own businesses for more than 10 years.