A good resume should stop recruiters in their tracks, immediately catch their attention, and motivate them to send your information along to the hiring manager. It takes recruiters only six seconds to review your resume and decide if it contains the key information they’re seeking, or not. Think about your resume as a recruiter would. Make sure it has the necessary information to accurately and effectively target your potential employer, and make sure that the most relevant and compelling information stands out first.
Put your resume together the way a professional resume writer would. First, compile your information accurately to position your experience and skills to target the job position and career you seek. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are recruiters looking for?
- How is the job you’re applying for described?
- What qualities is the employer seeking in a candidate?
- How can you emphasize your skills and experience to reflect their main points back to them?
Most recruiters will see thousands of resumes, many that don’t make the cut because they’re not accurately tailored. They want to see a resume that highlights your skills and experience, and markets your skills effectively. Want to know the inside of a recruiter’s mind and get the scoop on how to capture their interest? Check out these seven key items recruiters want to see in your resume at first glance.
Key Job Phrases and Keywords
Getting to the top of the resume pile takes more than a classy layout with clever wording—it’s all about the keywords and key phrases. Keywords are a huge part of the resume. Not only do they help streamline your document, but they help get your document past the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) system, which weeds out resumes that don’t quite fit the job description.
To clarify, don’t write verbatim what you see in the job description. That’s not what you’re trying to do. Instead, what you’ll want to do is glean specific phrases from the job description to include in your resume, and match those phrases to your relevant experience. Pick out keywords that accurately match your expertise, and incorporate them to read naturally and make sense in your resume.
For instance, if the job description requests: “Skilled at cultivating key relationships with managers, supervisors, and stakeholders.” Then you should write, “Strong talent for creating key relationships with stakeholders and top-level management.” Work the phrase in there, but avoid writing it verbatim.
The same can be said for keywords: Recruiters may be hunting for a senior manager with international traveling expertise. If they don’t find “senior manager” or “international travel seasoned” within a few seconds of scanning the document, they’ll toss it out.
Your ultimate goal is to highlight your most relevant skills, achievements, and talents in your resume, so that it’s easy for the recruiters to see. If these keywords and phrases are buried among mundane duties, or not worded similar to the job description, it makes it hard for recruiters to see at first glance.
Many job seekers request a general resume, and it does seem easier to send this document out to multiple jobs. But honestly, if you don’t tailor your resume correctly to individual job descriptions, you won’t make the mark. Remember, recruiters only take a few seconds to scan the entire document.
Naming Companies You’ve Worked For
Name dropping (companies or clients) can be an important factor in your resume, and something that many recruiters like to see. This credibility holds weight in your resume. Say you’re seeking a job in project management, and you mention that you led some projects at Amazon. This would pique the recruiter’s interest, as they’d be intrigued to know more about the projects you’ve led. This association with Amazon also tells them that you may be able to lead projects that scale.
Some recruiters can make associations with the type of duties or accomplishments you’ve handled based on the company name. Usually, this is because most recruiters have been doing their jobs for a while, so they recognize specific patterns with candidates based on the companies they’ve previously worked for. So, drop those company names in your resume, especially if they provide credibility and relevancy for your current career focus.
Accomplishments with Hard Numerical Data/Facts
What’s the best way to backup key accomplishments? Hard facts. It’s okay to list a few simple duties in your resume, but for your accomplishments that recruiters want to see, go for hard facts with numerical data.
For example, let’s say you have an accomplishment in your resume that reads: “Managed employees for a big organization.” While that’s great, adding a numerical value to how many employees you managed is stronger. Try phrasing it this way: “Managed 50+ employees for large organization.” See how much stronger this sounds with the numerical value in it? That immediately tells the recruiter you know how to handle medium-sized teams.
Here’s another example: Let’s say you’re a product manager and you want to emphasize the number of products you’ve introduced, and how many sales they generated. So, you’ll want to phrase it this way: “Handled New Product Introductions (NPIs) for 15 new products, generating $1.5M in annual sales.”
This particular example is known as “quality impact,” meaning that your actions resulted in an impact upon the company. In this case, additional money ($1.5M) was made each year. Companies love to save and make money, so always highlight such accomplishments with hard data.
Numerical data always catches the recruiter’s eyes. They want to see these numbers jump out at them, so be sure to list these in easy-to-see areas, such as your bulleted list of accomplishments.
Professional Summary Versus Objective Statements
A critical part of your resume (besides your accomplishments, education, and skills) is your professional summary. The professional summary tells the recruiter why you’re the one for this particular job. You’ve got what it takes to give them what they want—Make more money, save more time, and cut costs.
Recruiters like to see this summary, and it helps them in their decision to keep your resume or toss it out. When they see an objective statement and not a summary, it’s an automatic trip to the trash pile. Objective statements are outdated, old, and honestly, they’re self-serving.
You’ll want to avoid telling an employer what you want, especially if you don’t have the job—or even an interview—as of yet. The simple truth is that companies and employers care about themselves, and that’s their priority. When you lead with a professional summary in your resume, express to a potential employer that you can do what they want and that you’ll do it well.
Job seekers who are online are very important to recruiters and hiring managers. Many job seekers with an online presence demonstrate their top skills and talents using their digital profiles. If you don’t include a link to an online profile in your resume, it’s not a big loss. However, if you do list it, be sure it’s up-to-date.
Recruiters love online profiles that are complete and currently active. They want to see who’s in your network and if there are any popular or well-known names with whom you associate. What are your current interests and do they align with the company’s view? Is the profile mostly professional or does it have immature posts or photos? Do you have samples or an online portfolio to offer?
No matter where your online digital profile is, remember to keep it updated, professional, and current - especially if you’re listing it on your resume. Recruiters, hiring managers, and employers will look at it!
Adding Relevant Personal or Side Projects
Providing information about side projects or volunteer work can be useful in a resume. There are times when it’s not helpful to include this information – especially if it can be damaging to your credibility or if it’s not relevant. However, if the project or volunteer work is relevant to your career focus, then it’s fine to add.
Most recruiters love to see what you’ve done in your spare time or on the side. If you’re going for a leadership position with a company, and you have volunteer experience in providing leadership for a non-profit, definitely include it to show you have acquired the skills necessary to do the job.
Showing that you have acquired specific, relevant skills - even if you didn’t acquire them while working in your primary job field – will be help showcase your readiness for the new position. One thing to avoid is any political or religious volunteer work history. Anything experiences you’ve had that could put your personal beliefs in conflict with the personal beliefs of a recruiter or hiring manager should never be included in a resume. The controversial nature of politics and religion make them topics best avoided in connection with any hiring or work situation.
Avoid these common resume mistakes
Want to impress a recruiter? Here is a brief list of things to avoid including on your resume:
- First Person Wording – First person is self-serving and can come across as arrogant. Plus, it reads strangely in a resume.
- Long Resumes (More than Two Pages) – Honestly, no one wants to sift through pages and pages of a resume when it can be easily deciphered in two pages. Two is standard; three is OK in some cases. But don’t go any further than three pages for a resume.
- No Objective Statements! – As stated above, these are self-serving and outdated. Instead, include a professional summary that’s tailored to the specific skills and experience your potential employer wants.
- Exaggerating Duties/Accomplishments – Simply: Don’t lie. The truth is always revealed.
- Mixing Tenses in Resume Copy – Stay with one tense. Don’t flip flop between the present and past tense in the document. This drives any reader crazy!
Incorporating the key items above can help keep your resume at the top of the pile with recruiters, and help you make it to the next step - an interview.