Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Recruiters HATE in a Resume

What Recruiters HATE in a Resume
By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Recruiters can be valuable to job seekers who are looking for employment in professional positions, and recruiters should be considered a key part of an aggressive job search. It is a recruiter’s job to seek out well-qualified candidates to fill positions with companies. They review resumes with a goal of excluding those who are not qualified or who do not present well. It is important to make sure your resume is recruiter-friendly and as useful as possible so you can get past that elimination round. Make sure your resume is effective and does not have a negative effect when viewed by a recruiter. Here are some things recruiters HATE on a resume.

No focus. Recruiters look for specific candidates with specific skill sets. If they have to try to “guess” what type of job you are targeting or where your value lies, they will just move on! Use a good branding line and a competencies section at the beginning of the resume to grab the recruiter’s immediate attention. Support your focus with a strong cover letter.
Lack of details. Do not be vague! If you used specific software to accomplish a task, say so. If you applied a specific methodology – name it. Companies have laundry lists of “must have” skills the recruiter is using to find candidates. If you don’t show some of those skills on your resume, the recruiter will pass over you and you will miss the opportunity, even if you are a great candidate. Recruiters cannot read your mind – they have to see your qualifications on the resume.
Irrelevant information. Recruiters do not have time to wade through a resume loaded with irrelevant information such as hobbies, ancient work history, out-of-date skills, or reasons for leaving prior positions. This information wastes valuable page space.
Sloppy design. The resume is a representation of you in both content and appearance. If you have good skills presented on a sloppy resume, the recruiter may well just move on to the next well-qualified candidate (and there are lots of them in this market!). Recruiters do not want to have to reformat your ugly resume before sending it to an employer. They just don’t have time for that! Make sure your resume is clean, neat, and error-free.
No distinctive information. Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. He sees hundreds of resumes when sourcing candidates. Many of those candidates have all the right qualifications. If you lined them up side-by-side, some of their skills and experience would be equal. So how does the recruiter select the candidate to present to the employer? By the achievements detailed on the resume! It is imperative to have your achievements outlined and highlighted clearly within the chronology. Achievements can be quantitative or qualitative (or both) but they must always have a result outlined. Many people make the mistake of just describing something they did, thinking that serves as an achievement. The task is not the highlight – the result of the task is the interest point.
Incomplete contact information. Your resume should make it easy for a recruiter to contact you. Provide a cell number, a home number, an email address and even a LinkedIn URL if you have one. Double check that the numbers are correct, too! It is very easy to transpose a number and not even notice.
No candidate location. Make sure to include your town and state on the resume, and even a zip code. Recruiters find this information very helpful and not having it on the resume could handicap your prospects. Sometimes, your location might be the one factor that pushes the scales to your favor over another candidate.

In addition to a great resume, a solid cover letter is very important to have when contacting recruiters. A cover letter to a recruiter supports the resume and provides additional information the resume cannot provide such as willingness to relocate or travel. Follow-up letters are another essential when working with recruiters because they serve to further brand your qualifications in the memory of the recruiter. In a nutshell, consistent, clear communication with recruiters is essential.

Understanding the role of recruiters and what they need to see on a resume is crucial to a successful job search. Recruiters find candidates for jobs; they do not find jobs for candidates. Recruiters can be very helpful but their obligation and loyalty lie with the employers. The easier you can make their job by having a clear, helpful resume, the better reception you will receive from them. You can improve your results by making sure your resume provides the right information presented in the right format to make the recruiter’s job easier. The recruiter will appreciate it and you will see the payoff!

About the Author:
Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the "best resume writers in North America," quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee -- interviews in 30 days or they'll rewrite for free!

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