As external recruiters, our goal is to present our clients with the best talent for their job openings, and candidates with opportunities that best fit their professional goals. We see dozens of resumes a day, many vying for a single opening. Aside from having the right background of skills relevant to the role, a resume should answer questions that a recruiter may have. Here are 5 things recruiters look for on resumes:
CAN THIS PERSON DO THE JOB?
From a new graduate to an established professional, your summary statement, skills, and education/training should make it clear that you can do the job. If you’re currently a retail clerk and applying for a developer role, your resume should list all the qualifications necessary (training, projects, internships, etc.) that tell us that you can do the job.
ARE THERE EMPLOYMENT GAPS?
If you have had gaps in your employment history, it is always best to address them. (Note: don’t leave a recruiter to assume anything or guess.) A simple one-line statement that addresses a gap is sufficient. If you’re currently unemployed, list any projects, pro-bono or consulting work that you have done, or are doing during your unemployment. We understand that some job searches may extend beyond a few months. Above all, recruiters want to see that you’re remaining productive and dedicated to your professional advancement while seeking your next opportunity.
Example: 2013-2014 Took a leave of absence to focus on furthering and completing advanced education (MBA.)
Example: June 2015 – Seeking career opportunity in IT Security. During this time I am providing pro-bono system administration and security services for XYZ not-for-profit and teaching online security course through ABC University.
CONTRACTOR OR SERIAL JOB-HOPPER?
If you’re a contractor and have been on many assignments with the same firm, or with different firms, it’s okay to list the firm’s name and the titles that you’ve held along with a bullet point or two of your work. For candidates who weren’t contractors and have been at a job for less than two years, you should state what you contributed to the job during your time there and again, a simple one-line statement for moving on.
XYZ Company, January 2010 – February 2011 Lead project manager for e-commerce site launch. Managed project timelines, budgets, contractors, internal and external communications. *Company sold to TUV, restructured, and role was eliminated
Neteffects, 2013 – present, Sr. Software Engineer
2011 – 2013, Software Developer
MULTIPLE TITLES DURING YOUR CAREER?
Help us to help you. If you’ve held several titles, use your summary statement to outline what your next role might be. It’s even better if your summary statement lists the role we’re filling and touches on your experience and how it directly relates to the role we’re filling. Something to keep in mind: most hiring managers don’t want a “Jack or Jill-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None.” They want a “Jack or Jill-of-Several-Trades, and a Master-of-Some.” Focus on what you want to do, and excel at doing.
It should go without saying, but your resume should be free of errors. Please check, double-check, triple-check and send it to some trusted allies for proofreading. A resume is a reflection of the individual person and their attention to detail (even if it was prepared by someone other than yourself.) What does your resume say about you?