Top Things Recruiters Want To Tell You About Shortlisting Resumes

Recruiters’ minds work differently, so there is essentially no correct answer to find the ideal candidate. If candidates pass the first round, they move on to a telephonic, video or F2F interview. However, there are things that both employers and candidates should do to make resumé selection a fruitful experience.

You posted an open job position on your website and social media platforms a week ago, and you are hoping for a good response. Though you have an image of the ideal candidate in your mind, you are rather doubtful of what do recruiters look for in a resume? Educational qualifications, work experience and soft skills? Is that all, or are you missing out on something?

Unlike what candidates believe, recruiters have a hard time shortlisting resumes for the job. Though they might rely on intuition, they calculate before making the right decision. If the candidate passes the first round, they move on to either a telephonic, video or face-to-face interview. Every recruiter’s mind works differently, so there is essentially no correct answer to find the ideal candidate. However, there are things that both employers and candidates should emphasise on to make resumé selection a fruitful experience:

Five things that recruiters emphasise on:

1. Recent job position

Recruiters always like to know about a candidate’s present employment status and their interest in the currently open job position. There could be multiple reasons for a candidate applying to your company — they might be looking for a new opportunity, they were laid off or fired, or they might not get their present job. Whatever be the reason, the candidate should attempt to honestly answer the interviewer’s question to make sure that the match works out in the long run.

2. Experience

Ask any fifth-grader ‘what do recruiters look for in a resume?’ and they will answer straight away — the candidate’s overall experience. The career progression and responsibilities in the span of their employment are also significant factors to a recruiter. Also, do the candidate’s responsibilities match the requirements of your company?

3. Keyword search

What do recruiters look for in a resume at first glance? Keywords. Does the candidate’s resumé have certain keywords that match the company’s goals and prospects? Ideally, a candidate’s CV must highlight keywords that define their industry, last job role, experience and prospects. Relevant keywords should be in bold letters so that they catch your eye and you can make your notes easily, if only they make sense to you. They should be further explored in the job descriptions so that things remain to the point.

4. Gaps in career

As a recruiter, you must understand that there can be several reasons for gaps in one’s career — building a startup, family responsibilities, illness and taking time off to explore new things are reasonable explanations to have a couple of years off in a candidate’s resume. On the other hand, lack of explanations suggest that something suspicious might have happened – nevertheless, it is never good to judge beforehand.

5. Online presence

Check the candidate’s portfolio online — personal websites and blogs, Twitter handles, Quora and other social media handles can open up new worlds about the candidate’s interests, lifestyle and opinions on things that you might have never heard of. It is always interesting to learn something new every day, even if it is from a potential employee. Of course, look up spelling, grammar, fluency in a chosen language and clear presentation. If your job demands it, take a glance at their location and passport details as well.

Four things that recruiters aren’t interested in:

1. Cover letters and objectives

Though this could be a controversial statement, many recruiters will agree that cover letters and objectives are redundant – unless the candidate’s written something valuable.

2. Fancy typography

When shortlisting candidates, one of the most annoying things to see in a resumé is unreadable font and formatting. No matter how much jazz you put in, it cannot make up for the lack of work experience. Most application tracking systems convert candidates’ resumés into pure text that swipes away that formatting. Though a creative resumé looks awesome, a simple and clean resumé is easier to work with.

3. Too many personal details

Recruiters are interested in the candidates’ educational qualifications and work experience, not personal details. Some candidates include family and marital status, height, weight and citizenship on their resumés. Most recruiters don’t like to keep a chance at discrimination, so keep off your photograph, age and other personal details off your CV.

4. Educational qualifications

One of the shocking things about what recruiters look for in a resume is not education. Several employers do not check the educational segment of the resumé at all; instead, they focus on their experience and contribution to the company. On the other hand, some companies do focus on education – such as technology, medicine and educational institutions.

Five thing recruiters would love to see on candidates resumé:

1. A personal vibe

Though they look for information, what recruiters look for in a resumé at first glance is a human touch as well. Candidates should talk about their work history, specialisations and prospects tailored to the open job position. Brief and interesting descriptions must explain each job position and the new experiences they have had. Candidates can even include a couple of references who have taught them more than any university to keep it engaging. Also, resumés must not read like an essay and must be wrapped up in two pages.

2. Hobbies and interests

Recruiters love to know more about their candidates, so it is great if they find personal blogs or journal articles written by the said person. Contribute to as many portals as you can, as potential employers look for candidates’ interests and activities outside their regular work hours. This will automatically bring them to the next question about their projects and hobbies, which could be within or outside the industry in question.

3. Third-person and past tense

Candidates should use bullet points to make their point, as long-drawn sentences are quite…unnecessary. They must focus on what they have achieved in their work history, and choose past tense to showcase any accomplishments.

4. Minimalistic font and formatting

Resumé templates are overdone. Candidates should let the content do all the talking rather than letting, shapes, lines and borders taking up all the space. Nothing puts off a potential employer more than difficult-to-read text when shortlisting resumes — chances are that they would toss it out in a moment.

5. Email and patience

Candidates must know whom they are mailing their resumé to, even if they don’t always know their name. Mail the human resources, and they will get back to you in case of an open position, so be patient. Turning up at the office isn’t just creepy and inconvenient, but gives you a bad name as a candidate as well.

Clearly, recruiters have a tough life choosing the best hundred candidates out of a million names. There are things that they like or dislike, but candidates could do a few things to make their job search easier as well. When it comes to selecting your potential employees, take a leaf out of the recruiter’s books — keep calm, practical and interested in the process. After all, these candidates will participate in your company’s success one day.

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Shalini L
Shalini L

One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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