Ever wonder what recruiters think when reading resumes? We do too – so we asked them! Read these insights from four different company recruiters to find out (really) what employers look for in a resume.
(Follow along with this podcast episode!)
What do your high school crush, your angsty teenage daughter, and a corporate recruiter have in common? They’ll make you say this:
“If only I knew what they were thinking!”
One of the most nerve-wracking parts of applying for a job is not knowing how your resume will be received. Since resume conventions often change and there’s a lot of conflicting advice on how to write one, wondering what employers look for in a resume can be a source of major anxiety for job seekers.
(Worse yet, if you get rejected, they probably won’t even tell you what they didn’t like!)
As a resume writing service, we’re naturally just as curious about recruiters’ opinions. So we thought, “why not just ask them?”
That’s exactly what we did at our recent Big Bad Recruiting Panel. We brought in four professional recruiters for companies in Austin, Texas to candidly ask them: what do employers look for in a resume?
Here are a few things recruiters want to see (and don’t want to see) on your resume, straight from the source:
What Employers Want to See on Your Resume
Why You’re Applying for This Job
It’s okay if you have a non-traditional career history – they’re very common in today’s job market. Just write a resume that makes it clear why you’re applying to the given industry and job, complete with skills and keywords from the job description.
Ryman Stringer from KungFu.AI noted that she prefers resumes that show a clear career trajectory, immediately highlighting the reasons a candidate is qualified (even if they’re changing careers).
Accomplishments and Numbers
This should come as no surprise if you’ve done any research. Your bullet points should showcase specific accomplishments for each job, rather than just responsibilities. Our recruiters also confirmed that they love seeing metrics, particularly for salespeople.
A Good Summary Statement (especially if you’re a career changer)
Think a Summary or Objective is just extra? Think again: employers really do read the Summary of Qualifications at the top of your resume. Several of the recruiters mentioned that the Summary is a great place to explain anything important to understanding your professional history (such as a career gap, industry change, or vital skills).
PDF Formatting (but don’t lose sleep over it!)
File format is always a hot topic for job seekers – is Word or PDF better for submitting your resume? The recruiters weighed in by saying that they generally prefer PDF resumes.
They typically view resumes on their computers, and your formatting can get messed up when shared if your resume is in a Word document. However, each recruiter said this is a relatively minor factor in their evaluation of candidates.
What They DO NOT Want to See
If there was one thing all four recruiters were adamant about not seeing, it was typos.
According to them, a typo doesn’t say anything about your spelling ability, but rather about the way you represent as a professional, which indicates how you will represent the company.
We’ve all had our fair share of funny typos, but they’re no joking matter: some of the recruiters and their hiring managers said they’ve disqualified candidates just for having typos in their resume!
To avoid a typo gaffe, we recommend printing out a copy of your resume and thoroughly scanning that sheet before submitting it.
Pictures (and apparently, pictures of applicants’ dogs!) are a common mistake to include it resumes. It’s not conventional in the U.S., and some of the recruiters emphasized that they do not want to see them.
Too Much Information
Recruiter Lara MacGonigle of The Proven Method told us that she spends about 10-15 seconds on each resume, then about 20 more seconds on those who haven’t been eliminated
What does that mean for you? Get rid of any information that’s not vital to the job.
The other recruiters echoed this sentiment, affirming that they spend precious little time on each resume and don’t have time to read through lengthy resumes. (2-page resumes are fine for those who have around 10 years of experience or more; otherwise, keep it to a page.)
Would your resume impress these recruiters? If not, we’re here to help.
Submit your resume over on our homepage for a FREE Career Score, and find out how our business writing experts can help you land your dream job.