The Top 7 Things Recruiters Want to See on Your Resume
by Dayle Kavonic
You might have heard it before: On average, recruiters spend no more than 7.4 seconds reviewing a single resume. That means, they’re not reading; they’re scanning. For this reason, you need to make 100 percent sure that talent professionals have no difficulty finding what they’re hunting for. The key question is, what are they hoping to see on first glance?
We had some industry professionals weigh in, highlighting the top seven things that recruiters are looking for right away when they open a resume.
1. Soft skills
The results of LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends survey show that a hugely significant 92 percent of talent professionals agree that strong soft skills are increasingly important. That means it’s absolutely essential that you don’t just focus on your technical, industry-specific competencies, but also highlight less tangible personal attributes that set you up for solid workplace relationships and productivity.
“Recruiters are looking for a demonstration of soft skills,” confirms Arran Stewart, co-founder of AI-powered recruitment platform Job.com. “These skills are completely transferable and are one of the most critical things recruiters use to rank resumes.”
While the precise soft skills you should profile will depend on the context, you might want to highlight (and provide evidence for) strengths in areas like problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, communication and self-awareness.
2. Considered design and clear, consistent formatting
As Damian Chiam and Janou Pakter, COO and CEO of creative executive search firm JANOU LLC, point out, “Well-designed resumes are important for every profession, not only creative professions.”
The two urge job seekers to give careful thought to how they format their resumes, and recommend using bolded elements, bullet points and underlining strategically to organize information and draw attention to key points. “Resumes should be written in one font, and shouldn’t feature more than two different point sizes,” they add.
The main reason recruiters are looking for neat, consistent formatting is that it makes it that much easier for them to digest resume content (in those 7.4 seconds). “The clearer and cleaner and more concise a resume is, the higher the chance you have of being noticed among the clutter of thousands of resumes that recruiters have to go through,” say Chiam and Pakter. A well-organized layout also says a lot about your attention to detail and ability to arrange your ideas logically.
If you’re finding it challenging to structure your resume strategically, you can always turn to our professionally designed Resume Templates for help.
3. Keywords of relevance
It’s not just the bots that are looking for pertinent phrases. When recruiters glance through your resume, they’re often scanning for specific keywords that indicate that you meet key requirements.
Aside from soft skill-related terms, talent professionals also skim for “sector-specific or technically focused keywords,” says Stewart. In addition, they’ll likely be looking for words related to logistics — your general location and an indication that you possess a driver’s license (if this is required), for instance — so be sure to include such details.
4. A well-presented work history section
“The first impression that we get of the presentation of someone’s history is key,” say Chiam and Pakter.
According to them, your work experience section should be “uncluttered and easy to read”, and should contain important information such as job titles, company names, dates of employment, “responsibilities and results”. “We want to immediately see what a candidate does and how much experience they have,” they say.
Maxine Martens, CEO of boutique search firm Martens & Heads!, also stresses the importance of optimizing this section. “Include four to six bullet points per role, not more,” she says, “and highlight your major focuses and strengths, and what you actually contributed to your company.”
5. Signs of steady former employment
Even more important than the type of work you’ve done, says Stewart, is an indication that you’re the sort of person who’s likely to commit and stick around.
“Regardless of the relevance of your work experience, if you had steady employment over an extended period of time, that says that you’re a reliable worker, that you know how to work well with others, and that your previous employer viewed you as valuable enough to keep,” he explains.
It also suggests that you prioritize loyalty and aren’t likely to job-hop; Stewart notes this is important because “most recruiters are looking for candidates they can trust to fill roles in the long-term.”
If you’ve achieved before, you have the potential to achieve again. For this reason, recruiters want to see mention of specific accomplishments, preferably expressed in concrete terms using numbers. They want to see how you went above and beyond to, for example, exceed quotas, save company money, grow revenue or streamline processes.
That said, Martens advises job seekers to stick to the facts and include verifiable evidence wherever possible. “Human resource professionals are skeptical of overzealous claims,” she says, “especially if you are no longer at a company.”
7. Evidence of study ability
The presence of prior education on your resume is important, not just because it suggests you’re sufficiently trained and knowledgeable, but also because of what it says about you, your capabilities and your drive.
“Let’s say you have a first-class honors degree in history from a leading university,” says Stewart. “That shows that you’re intelligent, able to commit to a high level of performance over an extended period of time, and capable of working to get a job done well. These are all important traits employers are looking for when considering who to bring on board.”
Naturally, education becomes slightly less relevant as you gain more work experience, but it’s still always worth including on your resume to up your chances of pleasing recruiters and landing that job.
Confident you now know what to include on a resume, but not entirely sure how to compile one? Make use of Resume-Now’s various solutions, including our free resume builder, to put together the kind of self-marketing document that will impress recruiters.