They spend large amounts of their time reading resumes and they have seen every trick in the book. This makes them extremely hard to impress. Trust me – if you think you’ve come up with a creative way to hide your career flaws from a recruiter, you’re wrong. They’ve seen it before and they can spot it a mile off.
So how do you impress them? Here are 7 strategies that work:
1. Be Concise
Don’t use 10 words when 3 will do and don’t pepper your resume with big words because they sound impressive. Recruiters want to know the facts about you and they don’t want to wade through oceans of ‘resume speak’ to get to those facts. Use simple, clear and direct language throughout your resume and you will have a head start on all the “accomplished team leaders leveraging resources across global infrastructures, locations and satellites while delivering exceptional cost savings in cross-functional and highly matrixed organizations.”
2. Drop the Cliches
Resume writing is one of the only endeavors where people seem to think copying is the thing to do. If they’ve seen words frequently on other resumes, they assume those same words belong on theirs. So recruiters have had more than their fill of ‘dynamic, results-oriented team players’ who ‘think outside the box.’ Trust me – if the best you can come up with is ‘think outside the box,’ you’re not thinking outside the box.
3. Stick to the Facts
Recruiters are paid by their clients to find candidates who meet certain factual criteria – for example, they may need someone with 10 years of industry experience, or someone with a history of working in companies over a certain size, or leading teams of 100+. Whatever the criteria, it is fact-based.
Sure, the employer may also have specified some important personality traits, but they can’t be judged based on your resume – those will be evaluated during an interview. This means that your resume should cover all the key facts a recruiter needs to know. How many people a manager supervised. How many users an IT person supported. What budgets an executive controlled. All these facts must be on your resume and easy to see.
4. Show a Little Personality
At first glance this might seem contradictory. I just told you to be factual and now I’m saying to show some personality. But by showing some personality, I don’t mean straying from the facts. I just mean that you should present those facts in fresh and interesting language that reflects who you are. That’s the best way to stand out from all those other dynamic, results-oriented team players’
5. Write a Profile That Summarizes the Important Facts
I like to start resumes with a summary that describes my client in just a few lines. Some recruiters skip these altogether, but the ones who read them are not interested in generic claims or descriptions of how fabulous you are. Once again, they want the facts. Tell them how many years experience you have. Summarize 3 of your best accomplishments. List the high-profile companies you’ve worked for. In other words, select whatever facts are most impressive about you and use the resume profile to highlight those.
Oh, and drop the objective statement – no recruiter cares what you want. He figures you’ll worry about your own needs. He has a client to worry about.
6. Focus on Your Impact
Spend almost no time on job responsibilities and instead use the space to tell a story of how you made an impact in each of your jobs. If each section of your resume doesn’t clearly show how you can make a difference, you are losing out on interviews. Don’t tell me that your job required you to handle filing for the whole department – instead, tell me that you cleared a backlog of 8 months filing in just 2 weeks and then developed a system to keep things running smoothly. That’s the kind of information that makes a recruiter want to meet you.
7. Give Them Proof
It’s one thing to describe how fabulous you are, but it’s quite another to validate those claims by providing evidence. Have you won awards for your work? If so, highlight them right up front. Have you earned several promotions? Say so in the introduction. Are all your performance reviews glowing? Tell them! Have all your former managers enthusiastically agreed to be references? Boast about that fact! Any time your worth is validated by someone else, use it on your resume.
Impressing recruiters isn’t easy – but it’s not impossible if you follow these 7 pointers. If you’d like more help with your resume, check out my free resume writing course.(And if I missed anything, please feel free to add a comment).
About the Author: Louise Fletcher is President and Co-Founder of Blue Sky Resumes and Managing Editor of Career Hub blog. Prior to starting her resume writing business, she worked as an HR executive in a number of different industries including music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise has written three books about looking for work, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints, cooks, and drools over Mac products.