What We’re Actually Looking for When We Look At Your Resume
Most of us in the job market spend hours agonizing over our resumes. We get frustrated trying to come up with the perfect words to showcase our skills. We try to push your exceptional academic performance and achievements. And at the end, we painstakingly craft our cover letters to make ourselves sound irresistible.
Now, what if we told you that we recruiters don’t care one jot about any of those things?
It can seem impossible to predict what recruiters look for in a candidate resume but using our experience as a recruitment firm (and the insights of some of our top clients!) we’ve provided a simple guide to what recruiters actually want to see in your resume.
First, things we don’t care about
Let’s kick things off by discussing the factors that recruiters simply don’t care about:
- Fancy formatting: Unless you’re applying for specific roles where showy formatting might make sense (such as graphic designer at a laid-back startup), forget about it. Stick with substance over style.
- Education: Sort of; it matters that you have it, but unless you’re a freshly-minted graduate, your previous work history is more important. Include it but don’t dwell on it—we’re thinking about the future, not the past.
- Cover letters: You’ve likely heard arguments for and against cover letters, but in our experience, they’re a marketing tool that many positions just don’t need. Instead of sweating every word in your cover letter, focus more on the resume itself. Include your pertinent details but save the sales pitch for your interview.
What do recruiters want to see?
With that out of the way, let’s dig into the things you must absolutely include if you want your resume to get noticed.
- Work history and responsibilities: This is the primary data recruiters use to assess your fit. What companies have you worked for? What was your role and what were your responsibilities? Obviously, you’ll want to include this information and tailor your duties to match the job description as closely as possible.
- Your personal “story”: Don’t get so caught up in the minutiae of your previous experience that you neglect the big picture. One of the most powerful ways you can catch a recruiter’s attention is to create a consistent “story” across your professional experience. This means providing context alongside the data to give recruiters a complete view of your career journey. What do you look for in the companies you apply to? Why were you hired for each role? Consider how the whole spectrum of your work experience looks when mapped out and try to highlight your personal growth. And on that note…
- Upward growth: Upward mobility is a great thing to include in a resume. Try to work in any promotions or specific responsibilities that were given to you as a result of your performance.
- The proper length: Yes, recruiters care about the length of your resume. You’ve likely heard the “one-page” rule of thumb, and while this is a good guideline, there really are no concrete rules as to how long your resume should be. Now, there is a sweet spot you should aim for. Provide enough detail for each job description to meet the goals outlined above. You don’t want to write a novel—but you want to give the recruiter enough information to make an informed decision.
Creating the Perfect Resume
There’s no such thing as the perfect resume, but there is such a thing as the perfect resume for each job. Take a new approach to your next resume draft and remember to think about the big picture—not just the details. And if you need help managing this process further, reach out to Urgenci. We’ll be there to help.