Resumes and Cover Letters

A Resume That Will Catch The Attention Of Recruiters

If you aren't confident that your resume is going to be able to run the 7-second recruiter gauntlet, take an opportunity to try a free resume consultation for more tips on how to improve your chances of taking the next step of the career your deserve. 

Every resume would be closely scrutinized and carefully considered in a perfect world, with recruiters carefully looking at qualifications as well as presentations to find the best candidates for a position.

However, studies have shown that the average resume is merely skimmed by recruiters before being referred to hiring managers and may get as little as 7 seconds of scrutiny before a decision is made whether to forward it or throw it back on the pile.

In order to catch the attention of a recruiter with such a short attention span, you need to use the form of a resume to stand out without ignoring the conventions to the degree that it will look unprofessional.

Today we are looking at some quick and easy things you can do to rewrite your resume to make a quick impression.

Organize Your Information Economically

You don’t have a lot of time to make an impression, so your resume should be front-loaded with your contact information.

Your name should be at the top and be consistent with how you write your name in all professional contexts. Under your name, you should have your contact info, including your address, email address, and phone number.

If you have qualifications such as certifications that are essential to the job, they should also be included with your name.

For example, if you are a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you can put that after a comma following your name, as this is a convention for medical professionals. Certain other advanced degrees (MBA, Ph.D., MD, JD) can be paired with your name as well. A Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or someone with a similar technical certification could put that directly under their name. It isn’t required for people with a more general degree, such as a BA or BS, to do so, however.

It is simply to catch the recruiter’s attention that you have attained a necessary certification before going further. It might make the difference between actually looking at your qualifications or swiftly moving on.

Use The Document To Your Advantage

If you are not directly submitting a paper resume, then it is likely that the recruiter will be reviewing your resume as a DOC or a PDF.

In either case, there are certain things you can do to leverage the fact that they are viewing it electronically to your advantage. One way is to use hyperlinks in your contact information or header.

If you have an online portfolio of creative work, a career-related blog, a video introduction, or a well-organized profile on Linkedin, linking to them could catch the attention of a recruiter who would like to rest their weary eyes after slogging through hundreds of similar documents. Also, keep all information in one continuous document.

Don’t use headers or footers, as this may cause your resume to be disregarded by an in-house software management tool such as an Application Tracking System. Ideally, your resume should fit on one page, but if multiple pages are needed, the contact information block should be at the top of each page. 

Grab Attention With Your Title

Although many give little thought to their resume title or don’t even include one at all, it is your opportunity to strongly state your professional goals or understanding of the position you are applying for.

A good format to use is the job description followed by a line including three succinct job duties or service areas separated by a bullet or dash.

For example, if the job is a Sales Manager, you could follow it with the line: Inside Sales – Business to Business(B2B) – Lead Conversion. What you end up putting in the second line should align with the job description as well as your level of experience or specialization.  

Hook Them With Your Headline

The headline or objective statement is a golden opportunity to keep your resume out of the recycle bin. It should primarily promote your value as a candidate.

You’ve already stated the job you are applying for, not your opportunity to demonstrate your fit for it. The phrase you use should be brief but also specific.

This might take the most time when you do the resume rewrite, even though it may only mean moving a few words around if your headline is something general like “To attain a sales position at Company X,” that is terrible. “To provide Company X with an experienced Sales Staff Member specializing in B2B clients” is better.

What you can do for the company is better than what you want the company to do for you. It is also an opportunity to tailor the resume to the specific job posting by using the verbiage of the job you want. Doing this will give the recruiter more faith that they can sell you as a candidate.

Bring It Home With Your Resume Body

You may have noticed that most of the changes in this resume rewrite have been in the top 10% of the document.

That is by design. It may be the only part of the entire resume that the recruiter doesn’t skim. If you have already shown them the specific words and phrases they are looking for at the top, they may feel they have more time to look closer at your qualification section. Even an extra second or two could make all the difference.

This is the time to support the assertions that you have already made. You need to answer the questions that the recruiter themselves will have to answer if they choose to refer you.

  • “What is your level of experience and expertise?”
  • “What makes you more qualified than candidate X?”
  • “You have these qualifications, but how have you used them?”

Remember, it is always what value you add to the potential employer’s work environment.

If you present yourself as just another warm body to fill the desk, you shouldn’t be surprised when your resume isn’t picked up. Don’t use your well-known industry jargon if it isn’t already included in the job posting because you should never assume that a recruiter is necessarily well-versed in your field.

In fact, it is very likely they know little about it and have fed your resume through an applicant management system looking for specific keywords before they even look at it.

If you aren’t confident that your resume is going to be able to run the 7-second recruiter gauntlet, take an opportunity to try a free resume consultation for more tips on how to improve your chances of taking the next step of the career your deserve. 

About the Author

David Shrauger is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest who specializes in techniques for powerful persuasive writing. With over 20 years of experience as a technical writer and marketing copywriter, he got his start writing resumes and cover letters for friends, family, and classmates. You can read more of his work at davidshrauger.contently.com.