5 Things You Didn’t Know Recruiters Look For on Your Resume

5 Things You Didn’t Know Recruiters Look For on Your Resume

Looking for a job in 2020? Read this.

5 Things You Didn't Know Recruiters Look For on Your Resume
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Looking for a job can be exciting. It can also feel intimidating, draining, and vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there, “selling” yourself, trying to convince others of your value.

Like dating, your mindset can swing drastically from day to day, from “I’ve got this!” to, “This is never going to happen. No one is ever going to want me ever again.”

It doesn’t help that a job search is often compounded by financial pressure. You may have limited savings and a definite need to find a new position quickly.

Wherever you are in the process, it’s important to remember that no matter how you feel, you are capable and resourceful. This is doable. You’re simply looking for a way to contribute in the world … and there are hiring managers out there right now looking for someone just like you.

Here are a few things those recruiters and hiring managers look for:

1. Keywords

You already know recruiters look for keywords, but probably not just how much. As career transformation coach Pat Nunno Roque points out, “Nearly 75% of resumes are rejected because they’re not correctly ATS (Applicant Tracking System)-formatted or keyword-optimized.”

Read that again–almost 75 percent of resumes are rejected right off the bat because they don’t have the right formatting and keywords.

The solution? Make sure your resume has the right keywords for the industry. If you’re working with a career coach or professional resume editor, ensure this is part of their service. If you’re doing it yourself, run your resume through tools like Jobscan or ZipJob to make sure you’ve got the right keywords in there.

2. The connection between your resume and your LinkedIn profile

I’ve been guilty not aligning this in the past. In my haste to send out resumes, I’ve forgotten to scan and edit my LinkedIn profile to ensure that it matches.

The resume you send out needs to sync with information on your LinkedIn profile–they need to tell the same story.

One of the first things a recruiter will do is look at your LinkedIn profile, and they like to see the same companies or organizations you mentioned on your resume, as well as the same kind of story. If you’re applying for marketing positions, you should have at least one of those up there, and the bullet points on it should match what you’re putting on your resume.

3. Pedigree (not)

Most people think recruiters and hiring managers care deeply about where you went to school. Sure, it looks good if you went to an Ivy League school–but that’s not what most recruiters are looking for.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to know you can do the job. Period. It’s far more important to them that they see a story of growth and contribution on your resume than that you attended a specific school.

For example, a recruiter for Accenture said that when recruiting for a software engineering position in a past role, she was more interested in people who’d graduated from coding bootcamps than those with a BS in Computer Science from a prestigious college.

Why? In part because the coding bootcamp people (especially if they’d graduated recently) were more likely to be up-to-date in terms of their knowledge base. But also because a college degree doesn’t matter as much to a recruiter as whether you can do the job they need to fill.

(It’s worth noting that this came up during a conversation with a friend who wants to transition from massage therapy into software engineering and was thinking of going back to school for software engineering. “Don’t do that,” advised our mutual friend, the recruiter. “Save yourself the time and money and just go to a good coding bootcamp.”)

4. Interesting hobbies

Recruiters get bored scanning thousands of resumes. It’s fun for them to see your unique hobbies and/or interests (and interesting to discuss in an interview).

Don’t go crazy discussing your passion for chinchillas; but don’t be afraid to leave a line or two at the end of your resume to drop in a few of your interests.

5. How you improved processes

According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations, one of the easiest ways to make your resume stand out is to use a simple 3-step process when crafting bullet points on your resume.

The point of the process is to help you to clearly tell the story of how you generated change or impact in your organization. The more specific you are–especially in terms of numbers and percentages–the better.

Remember: This is doable.

Now get out there and do it.


This 1 Question Will Completely Transform Your Networking

It’s fun to ask and answer.

This 1 Question Will Completely Transform Your Networking

It’s easy to dread networking events.

The endless “So what do you dos?”; the stress of meeting new people; the awkward moment when neither person knows what to say; the light hors d’oeuvres when what you really want is an actual meal.

The fact is networking is still important. Really important. It accounts, for example, for people getting a full 46 percent of new jobs. To put that into perspective, the next runner-up is job boards, which account for just 25 percent of successful new employment.

Anything–and I do mean anything–that can make networking less painful and more fun is welcome in my world. And this past month, fellow Inc. columnist Chris Winfield presented a question that helps quite a bit.

Winfield, alongside Jen Gottlieb, runs a creative conference for entrepreneurs called Unfair Advantage Live, an event designed to help entrepreneurs connect with media professionals and get covered in major publications like O Magazine and The New York Times, as well as network shows like Dr. Oz, The Today Show, and more.

But Winfield and Gottlieb’s approach to “traditional” networking is anything but. It’s based on relationships, authenticity, and service, rather than quid pro quo and, “what can I get from you?”

That’s why they advocate for using the following question to connect with people at networking events:

“So what do you need help with right now?”

The brilliance of the question is twofold. First, it’s not “So what do you do?” (Right there it has set itself apart.) And second, the “right now” part takes the conversation from the more general to the specific. Right now, what’s going on that you could use help with?

It can also lead to some pretty fantastic results.

For example, one entrepreneur landed a spot on Good Morning America because of it.

At one of the Unfair Advantage media mixers, career transformation coach Pat Roque met a guy named Gerald Cruz Fernando. She didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know much about her either–but she decided to get to know him by asking what he could use help with right now.

“Actually,” he said, “what I really need is a parent who’s got a kid graduating from college who doesn’t have a job yet.”

“Oh,” said Roque. “Well, that’s me!”

It turned out Fernando was a specialty casting producer for ABC. After a brief conversation with her about the situation, he texted the producer of Good Morning America, which was doing a segment on the subject. Within a week, Roque was on Good Morning America, alongside Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec.

Of course, not all stories are as dramatic as that–but the point is that they can be. And it’s a lot more interesting to discuss than how long someone has been a tax attorney.

Most people at networking events want to connect. They don’t want to endlessly recite their job title and ask you about yours. But a lot of us don’t know what else to do. We’re like little networking automatons, going around asking predictable questions and then glazing over when other people answer them.

So consider shaking things up. Ask people what they need help with right now, instead of just what industry they’re in.

The other great thing about the question is that it has you regularly reflect on what you need help with. More than one person is going to answer it for you and then say, “So what do you need help with?”

You’ll start to reflect on what you do need, and get good at articulating it. For example, you might say: “Actually, I’m looking for more speaking opportunities. I’ve got a new talk about creativity I’m working on, and I want to test it out on different kinds of audiences.”

They’re going to ask you about your talk, or about what kinds of speaking opportunities you mean. They might even refer you to someone who’s putting on a big conference next month, who could still be looking for speakers. Or someone with a big podcast who’s always looking for people who can speak intelligently on creativity.

And you’re going to help them with something meaningful, too.

The truth is, helping someone with something they actually need is one of the quickest ways to bond. There’s an element of vulnerability inherent in revealing something you want or need. And when someone else takes it seriously, you feel more deeply seen. You feel supported.

You feel connected.

Imagine if your experience of networking was feeling seen, supported, and connected–and giving others that experience, as well.

From now on, it can be.