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What Recruiters Look For In A Resume

This somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of what recruiters look for in a resume contains some serious gold nuggets (of humor and/or useful tips—you decide). Thanks to ERE.net for posting it.

  • Recruiter tears off cover letter …Since most resumes lead with an objective statement … we can only handle so much generic doublespeak in one sitting. Recruiters also don’t normally read objective statements, because the objective is pretty apparent when you send in a resume … to get a job.
  • Recruiter looks at the candidate’s mailing address. If it’s going to require relocation or there’s any chance the commute is going to come up during salary negotiation, then on to the next candidate.
  • Recruiter looks at company name. If we, in our infinite wisdom of all companies, do not recognize the company, we will move on, because there’s so much truth that branding is everything. You’re only as good as your last company, unless you have the letters CPA, MD, or JD after your name. Conversely, if the company has been in the news as either an acquisition target or a source of corporate scandal, on to the next resume (assuming the recruiter reads anything BUT resumes, which most do not).
  •  The candidate’s most recent title must be in the same ballpark as the job for which they are being considered. There are some notable exceptions: candidates coming from the financial services industry, for instance, where we well know that interns are Assistant Vice Presidents, or consulting, where the titles are intentionally vague (Analyst, Associate, etc.) and flat so that everyone can be billed out at the same exorbitant rate. Traditionally, though, if you’re a Marketing Manager applying for a Marketing Manager job, then we’re still reading.
  • If you don’t require relo, work for a brand name company and have the same title as the position you’re applying for, then it’s on to the first listed experience on the resume. Then we become Goldilocks … too heavy or too light? Here’s a rule of thumb. Refer back to the job description. Take the number of years of experience and add two … postings are a lot like dating in reverse. If the job’s looking for five years, the recruiter is looking for seven; 10 years means 12, and so on, until you hit the 20-year mark, whereby it’s onto the next resume because you’re “overqualified.”
  • Average time for these steps for an experienced corporate recruiter: 15 to 20 seconds. If you pass this initial scan, maybe then we’ll drill down past the keywords, unless you’re so impressive you’re out of our price range. Alternatively, if you have a funny name, or if there’s obvious irony (a “Lean Executive” at Krispy Kreme, for instance, or the recent Monster headline, “Desperate Single Mom Willing To Do Anything”) or mention your work as a runway model or professional athlete, prepare to have your resume circulated to the entire staffing department.
  • Of course, what do I know? If I was such an expert, I’d have a job. Like being a professional resume writer.
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