What Company Recruiters Want in a Résumé

The résumé is a necessary evil and the job seeker, recruiter and hiring manager can all agree on that. What can’t be agreed upon is exactly how that document should be formatted and how it should look. Luckily, there are some guidelines that you can employ to raise your chances of being employed.

Don’t Duplicate.

Because the information being presented will always be about one person with one job history, it’s easy to believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to a résumé is satisfactory. Chances are an applicant is applying to many companies for similar positions within similar industries, but that doesn’t mean the résumé that is sent to each should be the same. Lose the idea that mass sending duplicated résumés will work. Be present in the job search instead and follow these steps.

Ensure your résumé is customized:

  1. Read the job description. This sounds like a no-brainer, but often the job description is looked at once and never really considered again. When that happens, the applicant loses the opportunity to truly understand the position for which they are applying. Instead of skimming, read the description and highlight the pieces that can be answered with skills and real-world experiences.
  2. Research the company. With a little Internet searching, applicants should be able to track down a company’s mission and values in addition to its strengths and weaknesses. Take the time to actually understand who will be reading the résumé and what they’re looking for in candidates.
  3. Make it relevant. Chances are the person reviewing résumés will spend less than 10 seconds actually looking over each. Before formatting information, consider what pieces of job history and work experience actually meet the expectations of a representative at the company. What skills or personality traits will excite this person if they find them in a candidate? Make that the first thing recruiters or hiring managers see. Even if it takes a little creative organization, it is worth the trouble if it catches a recruiter’s eye.
  4. Explain why you’re needed. The job description should list or mention a few soft skill requirements that are necessary or helpful to the position. Boost the education or work experience sections with bulleted action statements that answer to those needs, like, “communicated daily with customers” or “collaborated with a diverse team.”
  5. Step away and objectively reassess. After completing the résumé, take a step away for a few days and come back with a renewed view of the information being presented. This will help avoid typos and grammatical errors and will allow for a fresh view of the tone. An important résumé tip: If it isn’t clear why the person behind the résumé should be hired, then additions or changes might be needed.

Make it Digital

Today’s world is a digital one. In fact, people spend significantly more time on mobile devices than on desktop. That means, while job seekers are looking for positions online, recruiters and hiring managers very well might be looking at applicants via smartphones and tablets. Many applicants, especially those interested in tech positions, are building digital résumés. These résumés, while a little more difficult to maintain than a word document, are easier to share via email, bring more interactivity to the résumé reading process and eliminate the one-page limit.

Play Cover Letters by Ear

If résumés are a necessary evil, cover letters are the questionable sidekick. Do cover letters matter? The jury is out on whether or not the cover letter will always be around, but for now, some companies still ask for them so it’s worth your time to create one. If the company you’re interviewing with doesn’t require one, don’t send it. If they do require a cover letter, treat it similarly to the résumé in that it should be personalized to the company and culture. Be sure to not repeat everything that the recruiter or hiring manager could find in the résumé. Instead, paint even more color around the skills and passion that work experience bullets cannot show.

All-in-all making sure your résumé is updated and accurate is key to career success. Take the time to ensure you’re representing yourself in the best light possible.