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Preparing Resumes for Recruiters. What does a Recruiter Want to See in Your Resume?

By October 25, 2018 No Comments

Preparing resumes is always a big concern when you are in the job market. What does a recruiter want to see? Can you do anything to stand out from the crowd?

Approximately 4-6 people out of 250 applicant resumes will be selected to interview. Photo by Stefan Stefancik, Unsplash.

What are the Odds You Will Be Picked for that Job?

In Sept. 2018, one job board announced that every recruiter will get an average of 250 resumes per job opening. Just 4-6 will be selected for an interview. Recruiters will take about six seconds to scan each resume when narrowing down the stack.

Furthermore, Jobvite, a leading recruiting and applicant tracking software, in 2017 reported that 87% of recruiters will check out the candidates on LinkedIn. Is your LinkedIn set up and showing your best accomplishments?

What is the Recruiter Looking For?

preparing resumes

Pay the most attention to your most recent or current role. Photo by William Stitt, Unsplash.

Preparing Resumes: Your Most Recent Role

Does your most recent role align with the job you are applying for? If you are currently employed, why are you looking? How long have you been in your most recent role? If it is less than three months, don’t bother applying unless your new company is folding or suddenly doing layoffs.

Make the reason you are looking very clear. And make sure the relevant experience is easy to find in the most recent role.

Preparing Resumes: Identifying the Keywords

All job descriptions have specific keywords. If you have done the work you are applying for in the past, but the keywords were different for your other jobs, be sure to adjust them in the resume. The recruiter may not otherwise draw the relationship. Do not bother with an explanation in your resume as it is not likely to be seen. Let that be done in the interview or with your recruiter over the phone.

A word of warning. If the keywords are not an exact match for the role, do not change them. It is critical that you remain authentic on your resume. Be sure the actual important keywords that reflect your experience are in your resume.

preparing resumes

What keywords are in the job description? Do they fit your career keywords? Photo by Ian Schneider, Unsplash.

Preparing Resumes: Recognizable Brand or Company

A highly recognized brand, allows the recruiter to rapidly assess your background since they are used to the types of roles that are associated with these companies and may have placed someone there in the past.

Certain deductions can be drawn by the recruiter based on employment history.

  • Well-known companies or brands have credibility and historical data that indicate you are used to working on projects of various sizes with defined budgets.
  • If you worked at a well-known online company, you are probably used to fast-paced work and have done many, sometimes different
  • Recruiters may associate certain similarities with candidates from particular companies, and make assumptions based on what is known about that company and previous candidates.
  • A frame of reference is more difficult when a candidate has worked for companies that are unknown. This will require digging in a bit deeper.
preparing resumes

Career progress is an important part of resume evaluation. Photo by Olu Eletu, Unsplash.

Preparing Resumes: Your Career Progress

What does your overall job experience look like? Have you progressed to new levels in your jobs? Have you had increasing levels of responsibility? Do your job titles make sense? Do your past responsibilities match the job description you are applying for?

Preparing Resumes: Managing the Gaps

Gaps are not so bad if they have a good explanation. Taking a few years off to finish a degree, raise toddlers to school age, or even to try your hand at starting your own company – these are all acceptable if you explain them.

Preparing Resumes: General Information and Basics

Be sure the basics are clear and easy to find on your resume. Things such as your current location and eligibility to work in the U.S. should not require a recruiter to go looking because they might just put your resume aside and forget about it.

Is your resume easy to read? Be sure your spelling and grammar are accurate. Use the spell check from Word or Grammarly for overall readability. Present your ideas and experience clearly. And most of all, be brief. You will be more likely to share more in an interview.

preparing resumes

Be careful that what is in your social profile and personal domain are appropriate. Photo by Kevin Bhagat, Unsplash

Preparing Resumes: Your Social Profile and Personal Domain

You are not required to include your social profiles in your resume but if you do, make sure they are something an employer will find appropriate.

Recruiters Share Timing on Resume Reviews

So the recruiter has spent about six seconds per resume narrowing down the stack. Then they spent about 25 more seconds on each resume in the reduced pile selecting their top favorites, usually about six resumes. These last six resumes will get the close focus and potentially an interview.

If you have adequately accommodated the items above, you will have a much better chance of making it to the shortlist.

preparing resumes

No need to include unrelated work experience unless it is an internship and you are just entering the workforce. Photo by Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.

Things to Worry Less About and Why

Your Education. Even a college graduate will have internships. Be sure those are up front. Otherwise, education only needs a line or two in your resume. Show your university (-ies) and degree(s). Honors are acceptable if you can do it briefly. The exception would be scholarly, research, medical, legal, and education fields.

Formatting Your Resume. Unless your career is in graphics, website design, content development, advertising, photography, or something similar, avoid trying to be overly creative. It may take away from your results – especially if you are a novice with formatting, layout, and design.

Just remember, formatting does not take away from the need to show experience. But go ahead and add a touch of color and a single, clear, legible font.

Avoid Oversharing – Especially Personal Details. Recruiters work hard to avoid discrimination. Do not share personal information. For example, avoid referring to political or religious affiliations. The only time this information could be relevant is if you are applying for a job in ministry, minority organizations, political organizations, or with gun makers and sellers, tobacco producers, and similar. Unless you are a model of some sort, do not include a photo. Use your good judgment, and when in question, wait for the interview and make a determination on what personal information you share based in the meeting itself. Even then, it might be best to be quiet.

Should You Use a Cover Letter? Cover letters are no longer the standard, so it is a matter of personal preference. However, when sending an email and attaching your resume, you may wish to provide a few sentences. Few recruiters have time to read cover letters. For that reason, avoid using a cover letter for critical information.

preparing resumes

Try to let your personality come through in your resume, when possible. Photo by Rawpixel, Unsplash

Say Yes to Letting Your Personality Shine Through

If your social profile shows your personality, include it with a URL. Let it also come through in what you write in your resume. Use your LinkedIn profile in a smart way to really show your strategy, intellect, sense of humor or whatever you think presents you best to others. And get a second opinion or third or fourth on your profile.

Highlight key projects where you were on top of your game. Show off your wins. This may be the only comfortable way to get these things into a conversation during your interview.

Are you working on some cool projects in your free time feeding the hungry, build Habitat for Humanity homes, or teaching inner-city teens how to play golf? By all means, mention these things.

Mistakes to Avoid in When Preparing Resumes

  • Unless you are a talented writer, do not write your resume in the first person.
  • Do not create a super long resume unless you are a tenured college professor with multiple published works. Remove your non-associated early career jobs if you have a lengthy work
  • Do not mix present and past tense – even when talking about your current position.
  • Avoid mixing up first person and third person. Pick one and stick with it. The third person, past tense works best.
  • Eliminate the use of pronouns (g., my, I, she, he) completely.
  • No need to use a resume objective. Your objective is to get the job you are applying for, try replacing this part with a brief summary of your executive summary.
  • Do not mail, fax or hand deliver a paper resume. Computer skills are critical for all employees today, and it makes it easier for the recruiter to manage when it is digital.
  • Unless the CEO is a good friend of yours or your family and he or she has invited you to send them your resume, do not address your resume to the CEO. If the CEO is a friend, ask him or her who should receive your resume.
  • Do not exaggerate titles and responsibilities. Always be truthful. In the end, it will save you the embarrassment and disqualification when the truth comes out.
preparing resumes

Retained recruiters like Manhattan Resources are always ready to advise candidates on resume improvements. Photo by RawPixel, Unsplash.

In conclusion, follow these simple guidelines and when in doubt, ask the recruiter. If you are working with a retained recruiting agency like Manhattan Resources, they will be happy to advise.

About Manhattan Resources

Manhattan Resources is a retained executive search and advisory services firm with deep experience supporting clients in varied industries. We have roots in oil & gas, retail energy, power & utilities, and petrochemicals, to manufacturing & distribution, legal, and engineering & construction, to name a few. Manhattan Resources invites you to experience an executive search and business solutions partner like no other. We are there to help you fill mission-critical leadership roles, build short-term teams, and tackle your most significant challenges. Manhattan Resources has the agility, innovation and business acumen to assume a bold approach. As a result, we will help you take your business to the next level. Find out how the experts can help. Contact Us >>