HR Gives Your Résumé 20 Seconds

Try writing a 6-word résumé to practice conciseness.

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Twenty seconds. That's how long, on average, your résumé is reviewed.

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GL Hoffman
This is why it is often the form, and not the substance, of your résumé that gets the most attention. So, you'll have to make yours errorproof, clean, and well designed just to get past the first five seconds.

Next, be sure your résumé highlights experience relevant to the job. This means making your résumé fit exactly the company and the position. I understand that it takes a bit of extra work to make a custom résumé for each job opening. Obviously, if you are going to broadcast your résumé out to hundreds of employers HOPING to get noticed, this will not be possible. But this generic résumé blasting hardly ever works.

I did an experiment over at, where I asked readers to create a SIX-WORD résumé for themselves. Given the widespread fascination with Twitter and its 140-character limitation, I thought it would showcase good writing discipline. Not that you have to make your own six-word résumé, but notice how effective some of the (personal or otherwise) entries were:

  • "As I live, so does Apple."—Steve Jobs
  • "Solving complex problems efficiently and elegantly."—A personal entry
  • Another personal entry: "I stand alone, next to me."
  • "Fire it up. Ready to go."—Barack Obama
  • From a real estate staging person: "Staging it better. Selling it faster."
  • Here is one of my favorites that combines two movie characters: "Now reverse in aging am I."—Yoda Button
  • This may seem to be a worthless exercise—and it is certainly silly—but it's not worthless if it only makes you realize that a lot can be said in a few well-chosen words.

    What are your well-chosen words about you that you would put on your résumé?

    G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at or at