Three Things Every Recruiter Looks for in a Resume

By Deborah Walker, CCMC

If you are in the middle of a job search, recruiters can be either your friend or your foe. They make the choice to keep you out of the hiring process or to introduce you to corporate hiring decision makers. The quality of your resume is a key factor in determining how recruiters will treat you in the job market.

There are three things every recruiter looks for in a resume:

  • Focus
  • Core competencies or transferable skills
  • Accomplishments

If your resume lacks any of these crucial elements, then you are probably not capturing the attention you deserve, and you are missing out on important interview opportunities.

  1. Focus

Since recruiters’ time is at a premium, they must know your career focus within seconds of opening your resume. If your career focus isn’t clearly stated, you can’t assume the reader will take the time to search through your resume for clues. Most recruiters consider “Career Objective” statements worthless if they contain no real information about the specific position you are looking for and the industry expertise you offer. The best objective statements are concise and to the point.

  1. Core competencies or transferable skills

Once a recruiter understands your focus, he/she will want to know if you have the required core competencies or transferable skills to accomplish the job. A thorough research of employer job descriptions will help you identify the core competencies your resume must feature.

You’ll capture and hold recruiter attention by including only those core competencies relating specifically to your focus. Be careful not to muddy up your personal marketing message by including extraneous skills. If you remember the all-important rule of relevancy, you’ll go a long way toward keeping the reader’s attention on your key skills.

  1. Accomplishments

Once your resume has made it through the initial screening for focus and skills, the recruiter will want to know how you stack up against other candidates. Remember, with record-high resume response to job openings, recruiters need good, solid reasons to recommend you for consideration over the mountain of other candidates. Clear, concisely stated accomplishments are the best way to distinguish yourself from your competition.

Whether the recruiter works for one corporation or represents many corporate clients as a third-party recruiting consultant, he or she must be able to give valid reasons for promoting you as a viable candidate. You can make their job infinitely easier by including the information they need—and bring your resume to the top of the candidate pile. When your resume sells itself, you gain advantage points, and make the recruiter look good as well.

For optimum impact, write accomplishments that illustrate the strength of your core competencies, transferable skills and focus. An accomplishment is only valuable to your resume if it promotes the skills your target employers are looking for. Remember the rule of relevancy as you craft each of your accomplishment statements.

In today’s extremely competitive job market, employers rely heavily on recruiter to screen out the crowd of applicants. Allow them to present you as one of their best candidates by letting your resume present your best abilities.

Deborah Walker, CCMC, Resume Writer ~ Career Coach

For more tips on resumes, job-search strategy and interview skills, check out the article archive at


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