According to the research, recruiters tend to follow a consistent visual path when reviewing both resumes and online profiles, so an organized layout is crucial. Because professionally written resumes have a clear visual hierarchy and present relevant information where recruiters expect it, these documents quickly guide recruiters to a yes/no decision.
In fact, the study found that, using a Likert-like scale** ranking of 1 to 7, recruiters gave professionally re-written resumes an average rating of 6.2 for “usability.” This was a 60% improvement compared with a 3.9 rating before the re-write. This finding supports participating recruiters’ comments that the re-written resumes were “easier to read.”
Professionally prepared resumes also scored better in terms of organiza- tion and visual hierarchy, as measured by eye-tracking technology. The “gaze trace” of recruiters was erratic when they reviewed a poorly organized resume, and recruiters experienced high levels of cognitive load (total mental activity), which increased the level of effort to make a decision. Professional resumes had less data, were evenly formatted and were described as “clearer.” They achieved a mean score of 5.6 on a seven- point Likert-like scale, compared with a 4.0 rating for resumes before the re-write – a 40% increase.
Regarding online profiles, reviewers were clearly distracted by common visual features such as pictures, ads, etc. These distractions wasted time and detracted from more pertinent and useful candidate information such as experience and skills. Such visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capability and hampered decision-making. In some cases, irrelevant data such as candidates’ age, gender or race may have biased reviewers’ judgments.
Some of the most surprising findings involved the fundamen- tals of recruiters’ resume review process. For example – and despite recruiters’ different self-reports – the study found that recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume.
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