Many employers enlist the help of staffing agencies to help them fill open positions, both permanent and temporary, which means your resume needs to get through a recruiter before it is ever seen by the hiring manager. So in order to optimize your resume for review by a recruiter, you need to know what goes through a recruiter’s head as they read it.
First, before a recruiter even opens your resume, you have to give them a reason to do so. Recruiters are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes per day. This means your cover letter needs to draw a recruiter in and make them want to take the next step, which is reviewing your resume. Your cover letter should be brief and to the point, quickly listing why you are a qualified candidate. The brevity is important because recruiters receive so many applications per day – they are not going to spend too much time reading a full-page essay about your entire work history.
So you’ve gotten a recruiter to open your resume, now what? Again, recruiters are extremely busy professionals who are often working to fill multiple job openings at once. They quickly scan through a resume looking for certain key words and experience before moving on to the next one. This is why it’s important for you to closely review the job description and/or posting before applying, and then update your resume appropriately. If the job posting says they are looking for candidates with sales, PowerPoint, and nonprofit experience then make sure all three of those words are easily found within your resume – ideally more than once!
It’s also important to note that recruiters spend the majority of their days looking at resumes, so they’ve learned to spot inconsistencies. This is why it’s important for you to always be 100% truthful with the information on your resume. By sending your resume to a client, a recruiter is putting their relationship with that client, as well as their own professional reputation on the line. They will not send a resume if they believe a candidate might have fibbed about their dates of employment, title, or work experience. You should also know that if a recruiter thinks there might be an inconsistency on your resume, they will not hesitate to investigate it, so always be upfront and truthful both on your resume and in your correspondence with a recruiter.
A recruiter will also hesitate to send any resume that is poorly written or contains multiple spelling and grammar mistakes. Again, their reputation is at stake when sending a bad resume. They do not want to tarnish their relationship with their client by sending a resume filled with grammatical errors, especially when there are tons of other resumes in their inbox that might be well-written. For this reason, you need to double- and triple-check your resume for any inconsistencies, or grammatical or formatting errors. At the end of the day, both your potential job and their job/reputation as a recruiter are on the line.
By understanding a recruiter’s mindset when reviewing your resume, you can get a leg-up on your competition and ensure your resume will catch the eye of the next recruiter who sees it.