University student
Research shows that it can take employers less than one second to form a judgement. Brian Snyder/Reuters

According to studies, it takes an employer approximately six to seven seconds to scan a job applicant's resume. Given how difficult the job search has been as of late and how hundreds of people are applying for the same job (more than usual following the pandemic), you must do everything you can to stand out from the crowd - especially if you want to get the job fast.

The 2023 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Recruiting Benchmarks report notes that, after receiving a resume, employers hiring new graduates move relatively fast.

The study showed that recruiters would extend a job offer after an interview in less than a month - measured at an average of 24 days.

While it is inevitable that the most successful resumes are those that stand out during the recruitment skimming process, the resumes that attract the most attention do not boast bold colours and detailed work experience descriptions as expected. Instead, here are some things you can do to grab a potential employer's attention while looking sleek and professional.

1. Profile Image

Although colourful pages are not favoured amongst employees, resumes with an image of the candidate have a better chance of success.

Research shows employers can take less than one second to form a judgment.

A study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal found that a single glance of a person's face, lasting just 33 milliseconds, was sufficient to form a first impression.

Researcher Jennifer South Palomares said: "We found that people can evaluate faces on trustworthiness, status, and attractiveness following even just a glance at a face (e.g., 33 ms) and extra time (100 or 500 ms) only led to a small improvement in the correspondence of these time-constrained evaluations with an independent set of time-unconstrained judgments."

"The increasing prevalence of online images and internet-based relationships make these findings timely and important."

2. Simple layouts

According to Fast Company, simple layouts with clearly marked sections and title headers were favoured amongst employers. Organised resumes should also be written out in a clear font and with bold titles.

In a LinkedIn post addressing the mistakes most applicants make on their resume, E-commerce Email Marketing Agent Chase Dimond advised applicants to use a CV template.

"Use a simple, easy-to-read template without fancy graphics or images to ensure your resume parses in an applicant tracking system (ATS)," he wrote.

3. Format

Format should be a top priority amongst job candidates. Arranging details regarding past accomplishments should be displayed in a bullet point list.

When describing previous work experience, applicants should focus on their impact on the job role.

Dimond said: "Go through each of your resume bullet points and ask yourself, 'How did this affect the business? How is this relevant to the role I'm applying to?' If it's not, cut it."

4. Personalisation

As well as a profile image, at the top of the page, applicants should also include a detailed overview of their work experience or a mission statement – declaring their intentions while working in their specific sector.

The E-commerce Email Marketer went on to explain that, while applicants should tailor their resume to meet the criteria of the job role that they are applying for, they should also create a "base resume for every job."

"Create a base version of your resume that you can tweak slightly for various types of jobs," he wrote.

5. Evidence

Instead of telling the employer about their recent efforts while working in volunteer roles, during past employment, or in education, applicants should provide the recruiter with an achievement that was sourced from such efforts.

"Show, don't tell," Dimond said, going on to note: "Every word counts."