7 years ago
February 21, 2017

What Do Recruiters Look for in a Resume?

For a better shot at getting the job of your dreams, learn how to alter your resume so it grabs the attention of recruiters. Keep reading.

Rhys Metler

For every job posting that recruiters list, they receive more than one hundred applications. Competition is fierce in the job market and you need to be able to stand out from the crowd if you want to increase your chances of getting the job.

With so many resumes to review, recruiters don’t have time to read through every detail of every application they receive. They might not even open every one. However, your resume can still make or break your chances of landing an interview. That’s why it’s so important for you to make sure recruiters perceive it in a positive light, no matter how quickly they scan it.

For more tips, here’s what recruiters actually look for in a resume.

Strong Cover Note

One of the worst things you can do as a job seeker is to skip the email cover note altogether. Sure, it can be a pain to re-write the cover note over and over again to match every job you’re applying to, but doing so is necessary. You can’t just send an email with a title and attachment. The fastest way to ensure your resume isn’t even opened or looked at is to not include the cover note.

It doesn’t have to be long—writing a cover note that is short and succinct will do just fine. Two to three sentences is enough to gain attention without boring the recruiter. The cover note should match the specific skills that are required for the job. And you should address the recruiter by name and write in a friendly style. When you do this, you’ll increase your chances of your resume actually getting opened.

Scannable Content

Because recruiters have so many applications to review, they don’t look at every one in detail. First, they’ll do an initial scan, spending approximately six to ten seconds deciding whether or not it’s worth fully reading.

To pass this initial scan, your resume is going to have to be easy to read. Your text should be simple and clean.   Your sections—education, skills, hobbies, etc.—should be divided clearly for easy scanning. And your text should be broken up with bullet points and short sentences. You should also highlight key information that you want the recruiter to notice, like relevant skills and experience.

Your Current or Most Recent Role

By far, the part of your application that the recruiter will spend the most time studying is your current or most recent job in order to assess your current skills and capabilities. He’ll want to know what position you held within the organization, the overall goal of the position, the people you interacted with, the software, tools, or equipment you used, what type of work you produced, and what targets and achievements you had.

Ensure that this section of your resume is the most in-depth and detailed so you can really show off your current capabilities.


Specific fact and figures are impressive. Any recruitment agency would advise against being non-specific in your application. Recruiters want to know your value to potential employers, and these numbers can make it easier for them to understand and quantify your achievements. For example, specify with figures how many new clients you brought to the organization, how many sales you made in a specific time period, or how much revenue you brought in over your time at the company.

The Recruiter’s Confidence in You

A recruiter needs to be confident in you in order to bring your application to the attention of a hiring manager. After all, just one bad candidate can ruin that recruiter’s reputation. So keep in mind that even the smallest error or inconsistency will deter him from shortlisting you. Make sure your application is spotless—no spelling or grammar errors. Make sure you don’t have any unexplained gaps in your experience—this is a big red flag. And use appropriate formatting to showcase your professionalism. This will increase the recruiter’s confidence in you as a candidate and in your resume.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.