Basics Of Resume Writing

Think about this. If you could get inside the mind of a recruiter you would know exactly what he or she is looking for in a resume. You could then craft your resume to immediately get the recruiter’s attention. It’s just that simple or is it? 

Before we start talking about resumes and how to write one from a recruiter’s point of view, let’s define the word “recruiter.” A recruiter is someone who screens resumes, interviews, and sometimes hires job seekers although usually a referral is made to the decision-maker. Recruiters can be human resource professionals or people who work for employment agencies. Recruiters who are employed by agencies generally work for the client companies who have asked them to find people like you to fill their vacancies. They work on commission in many cases and they view you as commission potential. On the other hand, some recruiters work directly with job seekers in helping them to find jobs with companies. HR recruiters are people who sort through resumes, interview candidates by telephone and/or in person, and then refer the most qualified people to the decision-maker who will interview them and make the final choice.

Recruiters have access to many jobs that are a part of the “hidden” job market. They are one of a number of resources for finding a job. When a recruiter calls, even if you are not interested, don’t be rude. Someday you may need that recruiter and he or she won’t want to talk to you.

Your job as the job seeker is to prepare a resume that catches the recruiter’s attention. If you can write a resume from a recruiter’s point of view, your chances for standing out in a crowd are good. The following suggestions are not all-inclusive, but they are meant to provide you with the groundwork. Filling in the details is up to you.

Write a chronological resume

Most recruiters want the facts straight up. Don’t confuse them with a functional resume. They will see right through what you are trying to hide. Functional resumes are great for concealing job-hopping and gaps in your work history, but they won’t fly with recruiters.

Make it concise

Recruiters don’t have time to waste. If they don’t find candidates for their client companies they don’t get paid. HR professionals are salaried, and part of their job includes recruiting people like you to work for the companies they represent. Keep your resume to two pages and make every word count. 

Use a professional summary

This statement is an overview of what you have to offer. Fine-tune it so that every word that you choose to use adds to your credibility. If the recruiter gives your resume only a quick glance, this will get his or her attention.

List your qualifications in order of relevance

As you customize your resume list your most relevant accomplished with each employer first. This is the kind of thing recruiters are looking for and you want to be sure they don’t overlook it on your resume.

Create a lasting impression

Highlight your skills and abilities that are appropriate to the position and immediately create a good first impression. Articulate the marketable skills that you acquired through your past work experience and create an image that matches the level of job and salary you expect.

Be consistent

Choose a pattern of spacing and an order in presenting information or a format for bolding and highlighting that is consistent throughout your resume. At first glance the recruiter forms a mental image of your skills, experience and ability to prepare a consistent resume. Consistency reveals a lot about you.

Sell the benefits of hiring you

Your resume should include not only a list of your job duties, but also a statement explaining the benefit of your skills to employers. For example, an engineering supervisor may state that he supervisors 20 field engineers. This statement lacks an explanation of how his supervision benefits the employer’s bottom line. The benefit is that by overseeing the field engineers he provides the direction that helps them be more productive. A statement for this resume might say: “Exceeded all team goals by providing supervision to 20 field engineers who estimated the jobs and completed the work under budget and on time.” 

Include only the past 10-12 years of experience

If you have an extensive work record don’t include every job you have ever held. Mention only the past 10-12 years. Anything more is ancient history; don’t bore the recruiter. Summarize what you have done in the past in a sentence or two. For example, you could say: “Additional experience includes work as an industrial engineer in an automobile manufacturing operation.” You don’t need to provide any more detail than this unless you are apply for a job doing the same thing in the same industry. If that’s the case, you will want to highlight this experience and even consider writing a functional resume if this work was more than ten or twelve years ago. If the recruiter wants more detail he will ask for it.

Include academic achievements

Most recruiters are interested in your education as well as your training and coursework beyond college. If you are a recent graduate include it up front. If you are an experienced professional with at least one or more years of work experience include it at the end unless you believe that your education would be more important to the recruiter than your work experience. Academic achievements should also mention honors. If your GPA was 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, include it. If you are a Phi Beta Kappa include it.

Avoid “weak” words

Words such as “assisted,” “supported,” and “responsible for.” They suggest that you were not necessarily the doer. The recruiter will want to know what you specifically did to assist or support. Replace these kinds of words with action verbs that describe exactly what you did.

Use bulleted sentences

In the body of your resume, use bulleted sentences for each accomplishment statement. When you use paragraphs to describe your skills and work experience it is much more difficult for the recruiter to read.

Quantify your accomplishments

Recruiters want to know what you did and how well you did it. Use numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities to add power to your resume. Focus on quantifying everything that you can. Recruiters tend to skip over general statements, but they will notice quantified accomplishments.

Avoid too many buzzwords

Industry jargon and buzzwords are important, but take care not to overdo it. Some recruiters specialize in recruiting engineers and technical personnel. Others are generalists and they won’t understand what you are saying; they may even eliminate you from further consideration because of it.

Don’t say you did something when you didn’t

Some job seekers inflate their credentials to get recruiters to sit up and take notice. They may take notice, but when they find out that your embellishment is a lie you are history!

Sound good, but not too good

Claiming too much credit for your department or company’s success raises eyebrows. Sharing credit shows that you are a team player. If you really were solely responsible, make sure you can support what you claim when asked.