Ask a recruiter: First edition


There is this myth that recruiters don’t look at your resumes. Whoever started this rumor needs to be hit on the head with a wet pool noodle. 

In the first edition of Ask Recruiters, I asked some of my favorite recruiters their opinions. I asked them 4 questions and some of these answers will surprise you, some won’t.

  • What is the first thing you look at?
    • Two main themes emerged: Experience and location. If the role is location based, or needs to be in a certain state or city, the location is something that recruiters look for. The main theme though: Experience. Almost all of them said that they skip everything at the top and look at the experience to see if the candidate’s experience matches the req they’re looking to fill. 
    • You know what was missing from here? Your summary, most of them said that even with a summary, they’re skipping to the experience section. They also don’t care about the format or presentation. 
  • How do you feel about 1 page vs 2-3 pages? 
    • And to no one’s surprise(maybe coaches that want you to buy their 1 page fancy format resume templates), the recruiters don’t care about the number of pages. What is more important to them is to identify whether you’re qualified or not. If it takes 2 pages for you to tell your story, then use two pages they said. Now, this doesn’t mean that you take the first page of your resume and make it a summary page. This isn’t an academic essay, remember the response from above? They look for your experience. There is also a bit of a conundrum because you don’t want to have a 5 page resume. That’s a bit excessive, however your resume needs to be as long as it needs to be for you to show your qualifications. 
  • Do you care about a summary? Or are you more interested in the experience?
    • This one I’m surprised by, because I am pro well-written summary. Most of my experts said that a well-written summary is nice but it’s not needed. If there is a summary, but the experience isn’t there it doesn’t matter. A summary can also be nice if you’re making a career pivot. 
    • What does a well-written summary look like then? Summary of your actual experience that is concise, 2-3 sentences and not full of fluff adjectives like “driven” ‘passionate’ ‘motivated’ etc. The recruiters like to see results, impact, on resume summaries if you opt for it.
  • If a person is reasonably qualified (assuming a non OFCCP compliant role, 70-80% qualification match) – how much time do you spend on reviewing the resume?
    • The average response was 2-3 minutes. Why? Because if a candidate seems reasonably qualified it takes time to actually go through their experience. They are looking at your most recent experience first. The recruiters are not rejecting your resumes on a first pass either if you are reasonably qualified. They’re diving deeper before they say Yes or No!

What does all of this mean for you, the job seeker? You need to stop worrying about format, length, template, ATS bots and worry about showing how you’re qualified for the role you’re applying to. 

Are all recruiters like the ones I asked these questions? No. But I’d say a fair bit are. 

What questions do you want to ask recruiters? What do you want to know? 


Until next time,

Stay Caffeinated!

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