How Recruiters Read Resumes

February 08, 2017

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Posted by: Kirsten Quarman



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One of the toughest elements of a job search is creating a great resume. As a job seeker, your resume is one of the most important documents you own—so it pays to invest some time and energy into it.

Download our guide to learn how to write a job description that will attract  top talent.

An effective strategy for resume writing is to think how a recruiter would think. They’re the hiring experts—so knowing how recruiters read resumes can boost the likelihood of finding your next job quickly and easily.

Here’s how recruiters read resumes, and how you can use their expertise to improve your chances at getting hired.

First Impressions Matter

Recruiters are busy people. On average, they receive 118 applicants from job hopefuls per job posting, making it incredibly important for you to catch their attention and stand out from the crowd. If you’re sending your application via email, ensure that you write the position you’re applying for and something that makes you unique directly in the title—a recruiter is much more likely to click on an email that says “Senior Tax Analyst – 12 years of experience” than one that simply says “Job Application” on it.

You also need to ensure that you’re using a professional email address to submit your resume. It may be in your best interest to create a separate email account just for job applications. Your resume is far more likely to be discarded by a recruiter if it comes from an email address that looks unprofessional.

Keywords Are Paramount

With the volume of applications that recruiters have to sift through, they have to develop a specific way of scanning for keywords and important information without needing to delve too deeply into the resume. Speed and ease are key to a recruiter, so when writing your resume, don’t get bogged down with any irrelevant information or clichéd phrases.

The easiest way to make your resume stand out to a recruiter is to research the most important keywords to the position you’re applying to. Scanning job descriptions online can prove to be a great resource for resume writing—you’ll begin to see certain words and phrases repeated throughout various job postings, which you should then insert into your resume wherever relevant.

When recruiters see these important keywords, they’re much more likely to give your application an in-depth second look.

It’s a Numbers Game

Quantifying your accomplishments is a great strategy to impress a recruiter through your resume. Much like using keywords, numbers stand out on a job application—they make it easier to scan important information and provide specific details about a candidate without any irrelevant wording.

Instead of writing broadly about how you added a number of new clients for your former employer, get specific. If you can, mention how many new clients, and how much this increased profits for your previous organization, all the better.

Numbers will always speak louder than words to recruiters, and knowing how to use them to show off your accomplishments will improve your chances of getting noticed.

They Will Double Check Provided Information

It’s a recruiter’s job to match employers with great candidates, making it crucial for them to check for any inconsistencies that may exist on a candidate’s resume. If you’ve made it to the short list for a given position, you can bet that a recruiter will call your references, double check that your previous employment records are accurate, and research your certifications and education.

Be honest, don’t exaggerate, and always communicate transparently with your recruiter if you notice a mistake or need to clarify something about your resume.

How to Write a Job Description That Will Attract Top Talent

Kirsten Quarman

Kirsten Quarman

Kirsten has 25 years of global recruitment experience, working for global and national staffing companies. As Vice President, Western Canada for Talentcor, Kirsten oversees our Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg branches. Some of her specialties include administrative, light industrial, skilled trades, sales & marketing, customer service, supply chain, accounting, human resources, insurance, and legal. Outside of work, Kirsten enjoys mastering new skills and achieving goals she sets for herself each year, like learning new sports and exercising.

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