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What a Recruiter Looks For When Reading Your Resume


Jon Piggins, IT Recruiter

Jon Piggins – IT Recruiter, Sales & Marketing

What a Recruiter Looks For When Reading Your Resume

By Jon Piggins, Executive Recruiter, IT Sales & Marketing


While I do not look through all of the 3M resumes that Google receives every year, my day often starts with resume review. I search our company database, various job boards, LinkedIn, etc; and just one search may bring back hundreds of resumes. For example, this morning 293 new or updated resumes came up, and out of those I only downloaded three.


Pundits say that your resume gets between 6 and 15 seconds of attention. So what I am and other recruiters looking for in those precious seconds?


These are the first data points I screen for:

  • Current Title
  • Title/Role Desired
  • Work Authorization
  • Location/Relocation
  • Skills Summary


If a profile summary meets my initial criteria, I’ll click through to preview of the actual resume. If a resume doesn’t match my current search, but looks exceptional for other roles, I will tag it for my pipeline. If I can’t ascertain either of the above at first look, I move on.


So what can you do to give your resume / online job board profile the best chance of getting more than the six seconds?


Keep it Clear and Concise


First of all, make your resume professional, clear and concise. TheLadders conducted an eye tracking study a couple years ago that found that recruiters easily and efficiently pick up the data they need in 6 seconds if a resume is professionally formatted. This doesn’t mean you have to go to a resume service and have your resume re-written, but the lesson is clear: keep it clean and simple, less is more.


If you have a fabulously out of the box resume, make it a secondary page that follows the professional Word-based resume. Or have a link to it. If you meet the initial criteria, then it will get viewed, but if at first glance I can’t rule you into the search, your 6 seconds may already be up.


Title & Role Desired


When you have an opportunity to clearly state the role you are looking for, do it. Dice has a field explicitly for that, use it. In your resume, you may include the desired role as a tag line, or an objective statement (a little passé at this point.) I like to see a mission statement, one that tells me how you can materially contribute to a company’s strategic goals and bottom line.


Use titles that are relevant to the jobs you want. Leah O’Flynn mentions in her recent article on using Social Media to Make Yourself More Attractive in the Job Market that if your title was “Data Detective” at IBM, you should include “Data Analyst” or “Data Scientist”, or whatever best aligns to your role.


Filters/Special Fields


Whenever you post your resume on LinkedIn or other job boards, review and fully utilize all the fields given. If special fields auto-populate, go review these. For example on Dice, I always use these key fields to scan for critical information. So, make sure that you complete the Work Authorization and the Willing to Relocate fields. You make yourself much more prominent if you take advantage of all these fields by completing them.


On your resume, you can also include this information in the header below your name, location, and contact info. Many employers have relocation and work authorization programs in place. By making your situation transparent up front, you actually increase your opportunities.


Key Words/Skills


Again, whenever given specialized fields to capture this information succinctly, do it! Review anything that is auto-filled for accuracy and effect.


Include a summary of skills on your resume. This should not be a 9-page list of every technology known to mankind, but rather a concise presentation of your top fundamental skills and foundational technologies. If I am recruiting for an embedded engineer, I need to know that you have experience with C++ and C-Sharp, as well as the hot new technologies. If I want an inbound & SEO specialist, I am looking to find those skills listed in the skills section.


Maybe Give this a Try


When recruiting for a specific role, we’re working with a detailed job description that will contain specific requirements. There are services like Jobscan that allow you to compare your resume with the description of your dream job. If they match up well, assumedly you have better chance of being found for that role by the ATS or recruiter, and the hiring manager will easily see the fit as well.




My 6 seconds blossom into a much deeper look when I find an extraordinary candidate, even when I don’t have a specific position for that person in the moment. One way to make yourself stand out is to succinctly quantify accomplishments and successes. Whether that is citing sales quotas in terms of % achieved, or providing cost reductions on projects managed, or quality metrics associated with software released under your supervision, data can demonstrate your value, and beats a description of your duties any day.


Keep it Updated


If you are actively looking, or passively receptive to new opportunities, keep your resume up to date. Regularly updating your resume will help push your profile to the top of search results. Having your resume at the ready will also facilitate things when you get an interesting call out of the blue.


Further Advice on Your Resume

Six Recent Resume Mistakes: Stumble, Bobble, Snafu, Fumble, Clanger, Howler

Roadmap Your Resume

The Top Seven Resume Dos and Don’ts

Resumes – Lipstick on a Pig: If you Embellish, it will be a Blemish – or Much Worse