Reader Question: What do recruiters look for on a resume?

Q: I’m getting out of the military soon and need to start job hunting. But since I have never had to look for a job before, can you help me out? What do managers and recruiters look for on a good resume?

A: Understanding how recruiters think will go a long way toward securing that coveted in-person interview, which is the primary goal of submitting a resume. With that in mind, here are the top 3 things recruiters will look for when they read your resume. Focus on the following areas while composing and editing the document. Happy job hunting!

1. Qualifications

Sure, your skills and experience are important, but their relevancy to the desired position is just as significant. Typically, hiring managers will compare an applicant’s resume against a job description. If there is nothing in your resume that indicates a match between the two documents, then you can kiss that job goodbye. Your best bet to secure an interview is to spend time analyzing a job description and matching it with your qualifications before submitting your resume.

“I look at job titles. If they don’t match the job description, your resume goes in the trash,” an anonymous Human Resources manager said.

With this in mind, military members that have trouble translating their military titles to civilian titles can visit O*NET’s Military Cross Walk to obtain an accurate translation of their military experiences. Users simply enter their military occupation code and O*Net provides a list of similar or equivalent job titles.

2. Format and Interesting Achievements

According to Business Insider, recruiters spend an average of six seconds before they make the initial ‘fit or no-fit’ decision on candidates.

That’s not a lot of time.

With this time constraint, you might be wondering how in the world your resume will be read and considered.

Two suggestions:

  • •  Showcase your major accomplishments that set you apart from other candidates.
  • •  Structure your resume that makes it easy to skim.

For example, if you are a graphic designer applying for a graphic designer position, it would be prudent to incorporate some of your professional graphics into your resume.

But be sure not to over–do it, as catchy resume styles and designs may detract the recruiter from reading your significant achievements and qualifications.

3. Grammar and Spelling

Perhaps the worst thing you can post on your resume is ‘paying great attention to detail’ with several misspelled words or incorrect sentence structures littered throughout the document.

As a strategy, take a break after you’ve written your resume so you can avoid speed-reading when you proofread. Print out your resume and have a friend proofread it as well. Reading aloud will help you catch many spelling errors or incorrect sentence structures.

Remember, having a well-crafted resume is important in today’s fast-paced and competitive job market. Be sure to take the time to consider proper resume format, relevant work experience/accomplishments and proper writing composition. Your resume is the first thing recruiters’ will use to size you up. You want to be sure to make a good first impression.

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