Resume Do’s and Don’ts… Through a Recruiter’s Eye

In my job as a recruiter I’ve been reviewing resumes of marketing and communications professionals from all over North America. I’ve seen a lot of resumes… good, bad and frankly… just useless.

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about how no one really knows what is supposed to go on a resume. After screening hundreds of applicants in just the last month, I’ve put together some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for your resume – a list of tips to help your resume get past me, the recruiter, to your goal: the hiring manager.


Add Links to Former Employer’s Websites

If you were say, the Marketing Manager at your last company and I’ve never heard of that organization, I will want to see that company’s website. If I can’t find it…how how good – or big – could that company be? Or… why else don’t you want me to see that company? Make my job easy… provide the link.

Insert a Brief Description About Your Former Employers

It’s possible that your business development experience at Company ABC is a perfect match for one of my vacant positions. If you don’t tell me that company produces widgets for a specific niche market, you’re assuming I know or that I will look for that information. It’s more likely I won’t – I’ll move on to a resume that does.

Insert Links to Your Social Profiles

If I’m on the fence about someone and want to learn more, I will try to creep them on LinkedIn. If you’ve applied for a position that requires social media experience, I’m definitely going to creep you online. If I see that you’re active in social media – and aren’t afraid to provide your profiles so I don’t have to look them up… you get bonus points. (Disclaimer: bonus points are non-transferable and have no cash value).

Be Specific About What You Did

If you worked in business development, for example, throw in some numbers related to your achievements. If you don’t have numbers, tell me about some specific impressive accounts you landed – or your major achievements. Show me, the recruiter, how your experience applies to what I need. Examples:

  • Generated $1.2M in revenue from new accounts in fiscal year 2011-2012
  • Secured accounts with Unilever and Proctor & Gamble

That is impressive – and you’ll have my full attention (bonus points, however, are optional).


Include Generic Tasks from the Job Description

Many applicants appear to lazily copy and paste job descriptions to their resumes (as an example: “conducted research, lead generation, created marketing collateral”). This gets scanned over minimally (at best) and doesn’t catch my eye (at all).. To get to an interview, using the previous example, to impress me you’d have to make sure your resume tells me:

  • What kind of research was performed, the results and the impact
  • What kind of leads were generated, how you looked for them, and which you secured (quantify if at all possible)
  • What kind of marketing collateral was created, for what audience and the measured its effectiveness

Include an Objective Statement

I don’t know who invented the objective statement, but I wish someone would have stopped them before it became some antiquated trend. No matter how good you are at writing, these are always terrible; you can’t win. Instead, include a section of bullet points that list of your strengths – and correlate them to each job description summarized on your resume.

Has a career center coach told you an objective statement is mandatory because “that’s how it’s always been done”? They are wrong (and double bonus points for you if you tell them how wrong they are).

Ignore MY Job Description

Speaking of not winning with an objective statement… I have read applications to marketing positions that stated, “looking for exciting new opportunities in human resources” …FAIL! I mostly hire independent contractors, and although the ad specifically states “contract position,” candidates – in their cover letter or resume – tell me they are not interested in contract work.

I do not call these people. I have more productive things to do… with people that have read my job description.

Forget to Market Your Abilities

If you have a graphic design background, don’t give me a crappily formatted word document. Show me you know what you’re doing. Don’t tell me you have strong attention to detail and then leave typos in your resume.

Apply for Jobs You’ll Never Get

Sometimes, you can get to an interview – even without exactly having all the required specifications. For example, I might still consider someone if I’ve asked for 5 years’ experience and they only have four years, but an impressive resume. However, I will not consider you for a Marketing Manager position if you’ve only ever been a Cashier.

Please… think before you apply.

Cram Everything Into Two Pages

Someone apparently made a rule that resumes had to be two pages long. It’s a stupid rule. If you have 15 years of experience, your resume will be longer. If you have an impressive resume that is clear and concise, it can be as long as it needs to be. Don’t leave out important details or reduce your text to an 8 point font.

You’re not helping yourself get an interview…you’re just not.

This is just a short list of my own pet peeves disguised as tips and tricks for job applicants. I’m sure there will be many more to come. Remember when you apply for a job, there is a person who has to read your resume along with a gazillion others. Think about that poor person, and find new and exciting ways to make their job easier. They will appreciate it.

Be creative, organized, and innovative… or be unemployed.


About the Author: Scott Keenan is a twenty something with a uniquely cynical view on everything. Scott specializes in Human Resources and Marketing, and he “shares the awesome with you as often as he can.” Check out Scott’s blog, and connect with him on Twitter!



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