What Recruiters Look for in a Resume

Recruiters - those paid a fee by an employer to find suitable candidates - are very busy people. For each role they are recruiting for, they will have an enormous number of applicants to assess. They will have a job brief or assignment specification that they have agreed with their client. That will set out the background, abilities and qualities that are deemed right for the position. Their task is to short-list suitable candidates to their client, but they will be swamped with applications. So what are they looking for? Candidates that have that combination of background, ability and qualities, of course!

Your task is to present your information to them in a succinct, attractive and attention-grabbing manner, but how do you do that? Do you write the best possible resume you can and just use that one all the time? Doesn’t such a generalised approach have the same chance of success as any other?

A good resume profiles you in the best possible light and should get you to the interview and ultimately the job. A bad resume will leave you in the reject heap with all the other bad resumes. There is no such thing as a one-size fits all resume no matter how well it is written. Instead of using a generalised resume approach, based on over 20 years of experience in the recruitment marketplace, Resume Right strongly recommends a targeted and much more effective approach.

FACT: It’s not always the best candidate who gets the job.

Have you ever found out who got that job you were going for and thought “Hang on – I’m way better than they are – how did they get it?”

Preparing your resume is the first and most important step in applying for a position. No matter how well a candidate can do a job, if he or she cannot communicate this effectively in their resume they will be passed over for someone who looked better on paper.

So how should I prepare my resume?

The purpose of a Resume is to get you an interview. Your Resume is an advert about you and should be crafted to highlight the skills and experience that make you the right person for the job.

Your Resume is NOT a life history in which you spend pages outlining in chronological order the different positions you have held hoping that something will catch the eye of the reader. This kind of generalised resume is not going to be successful on the whole because:

  • It is generic and ambiguous with no specific target in mind.
  • It will contain non-relevant information for that particular application. That is at best going to cloud the points you are hoping to make and at worst actually put in something negative that you did not need to.
  • It will be too long and wordy. It will also probably be pretty boring!

Generally, these kinds of resumes rarely get you an interview no matter how great your career or how much blood, sweat and tears you have spent on putting the resume together. Given that many surveys show you have often less that 20 seconds to get your application noticed, you have no choice but to be targeted in every word of your resume if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Key features of the high impact targeted resume.

To make the best impression with your resume:

  • Short, clear and concise. Aim for no more than two-to-three A4 pages, at a font point size no smaller than 10.
  • Clear and easy to access contact details on every page.
  • It must contain relevant information – and only relevant information. Look at the job ad, if there is one. What are they looking for? If you have that background and those skills, concentrate on them.
  • Relevant job titles. This sounds simple, but if you are recruiting for a Sales Director, you probably want to see resumes with ‘Sales Director’ in them.
  • Outline your achievements, not your job description. Your resume should be about you, what you have achieved and most importantly about what you could bring to the new employer. A list of responsibilities and job descriptions just won’t do it.
  • Achievements and scale/scope must be quantified. “Increased sales” is not as punchy as “Built sales from $3 million to $10 million over 2010-11”.

A final point. Concentrating on the relevant information does not mean you should leave obvious big career gaps; they will be picked up very quickly by a good recruiter.

This kind of resume gives the detail that a recruiter wants to read in less than 20 seconds. Specific, honest (of course) targeted and concise it will get you standing head and shoulders above the generic resume applicants and put you in the running for an interview.

So what are recruiters looking for? Having been one, I can assure you the answer is simple. The resume with all of the relevant experience, skills, achievements and abilities laid out in an eye-catching, easy to read and succinct format. The resume that says “Pick up the phone and call me”. In short - the right candidate for the job.

For more information or help

See our Resume Writing Services page, call us on 1300 97 87 66 or email us for more information. We will be pleased to help.