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The most important 6 seconds in your job search

May 17, 2019

Job searching continues to change. It’s much different today than when you first started your career, and capturing attention quickly plays a big part in your success. Without a good communication strategy in place your career transition may last longer than expected, leading to one of the reasons why senior candidates get discouraged with their efforts.

According to a recent study by The Ladders, a career network for job candidates, the time recruiters spend reviewing resumes confirms what many candidates have suspected all along — a short attention span.

The study using eye-tracking software concluded that recruiters spend roughly six seconds looking at resumes.

In other words, you have a whopping six seconds to capture attention that determines the next step in your job search.

When writing your resume, make sure that most of the content is focused on your recent accomplishments by highlighting areas of technological change, your ability to implement strategies, and your impact on the company’s profitability.

Many seniors feel like they can’t compete with other candidates who have technical skills, and that’s why it’s so important to present your experience in a technically savvy way, sending a clear message that you are adaptable and understand change in today’s driven marketplace.

Senior candidates often make the mistake of relying on a large number of bullet points to present their qualifications, thinking that a list of accomplishments will influence the recruiter.

On the contrary, you could be more effective in capturing attention using fewer accomplishments supported with strong results.

In other words, don’t just say you are a strong problem solver; rather prove it by qualifying your problem-solving skills with using results. Results give you creditability, whereas a statement is less impressive.

Cover letters play a role in your communication strategy and have undergone some changes as well.

You create more attention by starting your letters with examples of contributions. Set the tone up front, rather than the traditional introduction of stating how much you admire the company and want to join them. Seniors need to avoid the longevity or loyalty selling points with employers when talking about their interests, focusing on the here-and-now value you bring.

Good communication holds true with your online profile, and while senior candidates often use LinkedIn and other social sites such as Facebook to make connections, many of them fail to use it to their advantage in job searching. The notion of “who you know” to land a job has now been expanded to “who you invite” to join your LinkedIn contacts.

Social media supports your resume. While you might not think of Facebook or your LinkedIn page as important as your resume, think again. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process.

During your job search, think about ways in which you can make your resume, cover letters and online profiles more meaningful by using six seconds as a guideline for the strongest impact.

Kimberly Thompson is a board-certified counselor. Send questions to kim@careerrescue.com or Houston Chronicle, P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/careerrescue.