Working with a recruiter can gain you access to vacancies that might not show up through other channels. Need to make sure your resume stands out to a recruiter? Recruitment expert Irene Kokov explains what you need to do.
Recruiter picture from Shutterstock
Generally speaking, recruiters are interested in a certain sort of candidate: the type A candidate. These guys and gals are rockstar, high-achievers. They can hit the ground running, slipping out of their current role and into a new role in the blink of an eye. In fact, you could throw them in the deep end tomorrow, attach a whole host of sinkers, and Type A would not only float but would even win the proverbial race. To find this candidate is every manager's dreams.
HR managers and hiring managers brief recruiters on their ideal candidate (enter above description of candidate Type A), so when scanning through hundreds of resumes in a candidate-rich market, they look to spot experience and qualities that they know will blow the socks off the hiring manager.
Every recruiter wants their candidate to secure the role, so they pick people who have the best chances of survival, choosing candidates whose resumes match quite closely the needs of the hiring manager.
Whether you like it or not, your resume will be used as a decision support tool. It will either funnel the reader's interests towards or away from you.
If you think of your resume as a story, like all stories, they're only of interest to a certain readership. Ultimate engagement exists when the story's purpose and content connects with the needs of the reader in that moment.
Those that receive a phone call are masters of creating this connection. They know how to funnel interest towards them. They understand the reader's needs on a deeper level, and address them systematically.
Here are some ways to tell your story in a way that is valuable, captivating and connects with the needs of the recruiter so that it converts into a phone call of interest.
The Secret To A Recruiter's Needs? Keywords
What are the recruiter's needs? Most of the time, the job advertisement gives this away. Your resume therefore has no excuse as to why it's not giving the impression that you'll slip into the role without hesitation.
It's like going on a first date. Making a great first impression dictates whether you get an opportunity for another date. There are no second chances.
You want to connect to the reader on a deeper level so they are interested enough to ask you on another date (so to speak), and the ultimate way to do this is to start taking note of the keywords that are being used, and pepper them throughout your resume (assuming you have those skills of course). The job ad and position description acts as a cheat sheet of sorts.
Although it seems like a good idea to use a thesaurus, in actual fact, the recruiter's mind is already primed to look for words listed in the job ad.
Don't make them search for evidence that you fit. They probably won't have the time to.
Time Poor Recruiters Need An Executive Summary
Your resume will likely not get more than a 5-15 second glance (especially if the layout isn't an appealing one) which means, it may not be read beyond the first page.
Including an executive summary is helpful here. It ensures that when the document is opened, the critical areas you highlight are above the fold. What are the critical areas I hear you ask? It's important that:
- You've articulated how you fit the role requirements and capabilities. Avoid boring, overly corporate jargon. Instead, add a dash of personality, explaining how you fit, why you care to contribute and why they should take a chance on you;
- Job titles are listed and are a close match to the job being recruited for;
- Employer names and dates are clear, with minimal job hopping (if you've had a few contracts of late, create a 'contract roles' section);
- You've addressed the essential and desirable attributes in the job advertisement. If they're looking for 5 years banking experience – even if it's evident to you that you have that, make it even more obvious. Write it in!
The easiest way to organise this information is via a personal profile or about me type section, followed by an employment summary.
Ticked that off? Good. Only then will readers look into the detail of your responsibilities and achievements, if they like what they see that is.
A punchy resume that gets to the point quickly, filled with relevant and well-organised content will reduce the risk of you being filtered out altogether. Adding this sort of summary makes it easy for recruiters to identify you as the right candidate. It also gives them the feeling that you 'get' what they need, subconsciously giving you extra brownie points.
What Spelling And Grammar Say About You
This is a topic you've heard before. It gets mentioned frequently, yet I'm still surprised at how often people get it wrong.
I'll spend only a few seconds ranting about this and the length of this section should not take away from the importance of the point.
Checking spelling and grammar is vital. Using the Word spellcheck tool or looking for words and phrases underlined with red and green squiggly lines does not suffice, unfortunately. Not all mistakes are picked up this way.
No recruiter wants a candidate's poor attention to detail to reflect negatively upon him or her. More importantly, hiring managers don't want employees who don't take pride in their work, which is exactly what you demonstrate with one little mistake, given this is your first impression.
Vocabulary and Language: It's All About Communication
Every word you use has a purpose – it acts as a vessel bringing the reader to the next word. Or, it has them lose interest.
We all know the saying, 'less is more' and that's doubly true with resumes. Language used sparingly is powerful.
Although you may think that the language you use has no impact on your performance at work, few hiring managers will agree. Your writing style is a sneak peek into what you're like as an employee, conveying whether you're capable of communication that engages stakeholders and colleagues professionally.
Also, take note of a potential employer's website. It will give further clues as to what their corporate culture is like, the formality of writing style used and can even suggest what their commonly used font is. Imitating small details like these can make you stand out amongst a crowd of applicants, giving the reader a sense that you already 'belong' on a subconscious level — an attractive trait for recruiters and hiring managers.
Achievements, Achievements, Achievements
Did you know that recruiters care very little about your resume if they don't see achievements?
Resumes are essentially just the tip of the iceberg, but recruiters use them as a predictor (albeit not an accurate one) of your reliability and future job performance, and based upon that will give you an interview, or not.
Your achievements help convince recruiters that you are the candidate they're looking for. Without achievements, your resume says that you're able to perform certain duties, but that isn't enough. Anyone can do that.
An achievement-less resume lacks quality information and makes it difficult for recruiters to know whether or not to bring a candidate in for interview. And typically, if they can't figure it out, they don't try to. They just move onto the next resume. After all, there are probably another 103 to go.
Quantify each achievement. Not only does it add credibility and reason as to why they should notice you, but it also clarifies the depth and breadth of your role, allows people to visualise and immerse themselves in your experience, AND is a LOT more interesting to recruiters than stock standard phrases copied from a job description.
Last but not least, your resume is essentially in a competition each time you send it out, vying for the attention of the reader, hoping to connect to a recruiter.
Recruiters are looking for that connection too. The recruiter is looking to be understood. For a candidate who gets their needs. For a candidate to make their job of finding the 'perfect' candidate a little bit simpler.
Irene Kotov helps managers and executives land jobs in exciting companies. Through online presence creation, resume writing services, and LinkedIn profile writing, Irene helps her clients stand head and shoulders above their competition during the job search process. You can catch up with her on Google+.