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Recruiters looking at resumes

In a study by TheLadders (of n equals 30), recruiters looked at resumes and make some judgments. During evaluations, eye tracking software was employed, and they found that the recruiters spent about six seconds on a resume looking for six main things: name, current company and title, previous company and title, previous position start and end dates, current position start and end dates, and education. After that, it was a crapshoot.

Beyond these six data points, recruiters did little more than scan for keywords to match the open position, which amounted to a very cursory "pattern matching" activity. Because decisions were based mostly on the six pieces of data listed above, an individual resume’s detail and explanatory copy became filler and had little to no impact on the initial decision making. In fact, the study’s eye tracking technology shows that recruiters spent about 6 seconds on their initial "fit/no fit" decision.

If I ever have to submit a resume, I'm just going to put those six things as bullets and then the rest will all be keywords in small, light print. It'll be like job search SEO.

Update: I've been told that TheLadder's reputation might be less than savory, and a quick search shows some in agreement, so it might be wise to sidestep the service. Instead, go with my awesome six-bullet advice and you're gold.

[via @alexlundry]

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Some time in the 1480s (experts tend to agree with 1483/84, at which point he was approximately 32-years-old) Leonardo da Vinci applied for a job at the court of Ludovico Sforza — then de facto ruler of Milan but not officially its Duke for another few years. Da Vinci did so by way of the following application letter; essentially a fascinating list of his abilities which, in an effort to appeal to Sforza's needs at the time, is dominated by his undeniably impressive military engineering skills. His artistic genius isn't really hinted at until the end.

Da Vinci's efforts paid off, and he was eventually employed. A decade later, it was Sforza who commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.

(Source: Leonardo on Painting: An Anthology of Writings by Leonardo da Vinci with a Selection of Documents Relating to His Career; Image: Leonardo da Vinci, a self-portrait, via.)

My Most Illustrious Lord,

Having now sufficiently seen and considered the achievements of all those who count themselves masters and artificers of instruments of war, and having noted that the invention and performance of the said instruments is in no way different from that in common usage, I shall endeavour, while intending no discredit to anyone else, to make myself understood to Your Excellency for the purpose of unfolding to you my secrets, and thereafter offering them at your complete disposal, and when the time is right bringing into effective operation all those things which are in part briefly listed below:

1. I have plans for very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy, and others, sturdy and indestructible either by fire or in battle, easy and convenient to lift and place in position. Also means of burning and destroying those of the enemy.

2. I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain, to remove water from the moats and how to make an infinite number of bridges, mantlets and scaling ladders and other instruments necessary to such an enterprise.

3. Also, if one cannot, when besieging a terrain, proceed by bombardment either because of the height of the glacis or the strength of its situation and location, I have methods for destroying every fortress or other stranglehold unless it has been founded upon a rock or so forth.

4. I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion.

5. Also, I have means of arriving at a designated spot through mines and secret winding passages constructed completely without noise, even if it should be necessary to pass underneath moats or any river.

6. Also, I will make covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery, and there is no host of armed men so great that they would not break through it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow, quite uninjured and unimpeded.

7. Also, should the need arise, I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design that are quite out of the ordinary.

8. Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence.

9. And should a sea battle be occasioned, I have examples of many instruments which are highly suitable either in attack or defence, and craft which will resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke.

10. In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another.

Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be.

Moreover, work could be undertaken on the bronze horse which will be to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the auspicious memory of His Lordship your father, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-mentioned things seem impossible or impracticable to anyone, I am most readily disposed to demonstrate them in your park or in whatsoever place shall please Your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

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revu timeline

A couple of infographic résumé sites, vizualize.me and re.vu, sprouted up that use your LinkedIn data to show your career stats. Just create an account, connect it to LinkedIn, and you get some graphs that show when and where you worked. It's a visual form of your LinkedIn profile with a goal to replace the "old" and "boring" résumé that uses just text.

Is this the best way to go though, if you're applying for a job?

Other than commissioning a couple of freelancers based on their portfolios and recommendations, I haven't had any experience hiring people, but I imagine being turned off by such an infographic résumé if I were a HR person. The visual format is easy to scan, but because it it's not a traditional text layout, I'd have to figure out what I was looking at first.

Or let's say more people start submitting these sort of résumés. Then the novelty, the main advantage, wears off and they all start to look the same.

The first infographic résumé I remember was by Michael Anderson in 2008.

There were probably others before it, but this was the first that was shared a lot across the Web. It was new and creative and worked well for the type of job Anderson was looking for. Copycats followed that were less amusing than the one before.

If you were to apply for similar jobs as Anderson with an automatically generated résumé, it'd be less impressive, because the creation was a way to show a portion of his skill set, whereas you're just pointing and clicking with these sites.

Maybe you're looking for a different sort of job. Would those employers appreciate this sort of résumé? Again, it's hard for me to say. But I imagine them appreciating a thoughtful cover letter with a CV with the most important stuff at the beginning than they would about bar graphs and humps (with a meaningless vertical axis) that show a space-hogging timeline. I'm all for visualizing things (especially bits of your life), but words can also be meaningful.

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