What do recruiters, employers and hiring managers look for in a resume? It’s a question many new job seekers ask, and with good reason. You’ve got approximately six seconds to capture the attention of the recruiter reviewing your resume, so it’s critical to make an impact quickly and convince them to shortlist you in their ‘yes’ pile.
Understanding what recruiters look for – particularly in the current candidate-rich market – will help you stand out from the crowd, keep them engaged, and ultimately move you to the start of the job interview process.
1. A compelling hook
This could be in the form of including a strong one-line professional summary or mission statement immediately after your name and contact details, which outlines your elevator pitch for the job.
For example: “Results-driven [your area of expertise] professional with X years’ experience in [sector/niche] and a proven track record of success in [outcome/result].”
2. Your key achievements
Recruiters will not spend time digging around a resume to identify your key achievements. Therefore, you need to ensure they are presented front and centre so they can quickly determine if you are the right candidate to be put forward for the job.
Depending on your experience, industry and function, achievements can be listed as:
- The amount of revenue you made for the company
- Key projects you managed
- Strong statistics for outcomes either led or driven by you
- Ideas or innovations you introduced
- Procedures you implemented
- Qualifications, awards and promotions
- Top results in exams or tests
Recruiters appreciate when you have incorporated keywords into your resume because it means you:
- Read the job description thoroughly
- Pay attention to detail
- Have taken the time to tailor the information in your resume to suit that specific job you are applying for
By applying keyword relevancy throughout your resume, it can significantly decrease the time it takes for recruiters to determine whether you are a potential candidate for a phone call or job interview. Ultimately, using keywords will show you are speaking the same language as the recruiter whether it is through your industry skills and abilities, soft skills or specific technical or software skills.
One important thing to note is to avoid keyword overkill. Be very selective in the keywords you use and also avoid industry jargon or buzzwords if they do not serve any real purpose.
4. A maximum of two pages
Unless you’re applying for an executive job – which often requires a longer resume to allow space for more extensive career experience – the two-page resume rule applies. For school leavers and fresh university graduates, it’s common that your resume will only be one page until you start to build on your experience and qualifications.
5. Flawless spelling and grammar
A recruiter will ultimately be presenting your resume to prospective employers, so they’ll want to see that it is free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. It goes without saying that you should spell-check your resume, but it’s also a good idea to have someone you trust review it and make sure you haven’t overlooked any other issues or sections that need to be clarified.
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