What Recruiters Want on Your Resume

The recruiters in my network with whom I have recently spoken have told me, yes, they are still getting a flood of resumes for very few jobs. When I asked them how they chose resumes for the candidates they wanted to interview, they told me there are crucial resume sections that must stand out in order for those resumes to be chosen. Here are some of those crucial resume sections and what you can do to get your resume noticed. Remember, your resume does not just land you the interview, but it is also the tool that recruiters use as a guide to interviewing you. It must provide a concise, clear snapshot of your career history.

*Contact information. Your name, address, number and email must appear at the top of your resume. Creative types like to list this information on the sides, bottom or even the back of the resume. However, the applicant tracking systems (ats) that recruiters use are set up to pick out this information from the first 20 resume lines. Most recruiters are careful in uploading your resume to an ats because your resume is valuable to them. Some, however, will not check that your resume parsed into the correct fields, so while your resume is in the system, it may not be retrievable by your name and is, therefore, now useless to both you and the recruiter.

*Relevant work experience. A recruiter should be able to tell by your current job title if you are working in the industry in which the job is. You will not be automatically rejected if you are not. Precise employment dates may still keep you in the running if you have worked in the industry. Make sure your dates are accurate. You can even highlight your industry experience by leading off your resume with a relevant work experience section. So, for example, if the job is in higher education, and your previous jobs were in higher education, you may title this section, Higher Education Experience. List your current job under “Other Work Experience.”

*Skill sets. Your skills either qualify you for a job or they don’t. A skills summary helps the recruiter determine at a glance if you are a good fit for a position. A skills summary should list those skills required in the job description. Most job descriptions list required skills in the order of importance, and your skills summary should do the same. Even if your resume ends up in the system without your name attached to it, this is your second chance to get noticed, as the ats system will also index your skills. Recruiters are able to search for your resume in the ats by skills as well as by name.

*Accomplishments. Back up your skills summary by listing accomplishments, rather than just duties for each job you held. If you can quantify an accomplishment, do so, but be aware that when recruiters contact your references, they may well ask these people if you really did achieve these accomplishments. So if you increased business as your previous employer by 50%, put it on your resume, and make sure your reference knows that you did.

*Education. Create a section for your degrees, and make sure it is easily findable. Education is one of the key criteria recruiters use to weed out resumes. If you do not have the required degree listed, even if you do hold it, you may lose out on an interview.

It is tempting to embellish your resume and use the same one over and over again when you have been job searching for a long time. However, listing skills and accomplishments you do not have is lying and can get you fired from a job even after you have landed it. Using the same resume for every job also does not cut it because all of these critical resume sections must address the specific needs of each job.

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