Although we may never know why we didn't get chosen for a job interview, a recent study is shedding some light on recruiters' decision-making behavior. According to TheLadders research, recruiters spend an average of "six seconds before they make the initial 'fit or no fit' decision" on candidates.
The study used a scientific technique called "eye tracking" on 30 professional recruiters and examined their eye movements during a 10-week period to "record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task."
In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.
The two resumes below include a heat map of recruiters' eye movements. The one on the right was looked at more thoroughly than the one of the left because of its clear and concise format:
With such critical time constraints, you should make it easier for recruiters to find pertinent information by creating a resume with a clear visual hierarchy. Don't include distracting visuals since "such visual elements reduced recruiters' analytical capability and hampered decision-making" and kept them from "locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience."