What Recruiters want you to know about your Resume

It’s a highly competitive job market right now. Recruiters are often FLOODED with applicants and are employing the help of Applicant Tracking Systems to determine potential matches. Despite what you may have heard, these systems simply help streamline the recruiting process and are NOT making decisions about whether your resume gets shortlisted. It’s still up to the human recruiter to make sense of your resume and make this call.

Here are my top tips to make your resume more appealing to recruiters


Recruiters are taught to scan resumes for relevant previous experience, job longevity, keywords, skills and accomplishments. You want to make sure your resume is easy to read to absorb the required information.

Recruiters will firstly read across the top of the page. Your name, location and contact details should be easily identifiable at the top and not taking up more than a couple of lines.

Open with a position title that you’re targeting and short summary that quickly showcases your related background and key value to your next employer. You can even include several noteworthy relevant career accomplishments directly under this.

They will then scan down the left hand side for job titles and employment dates, and will look for whether position titles match the role they’re filling, aswell as determining whether there was stable work history and if experience aligns with the needs of the company.

Your employment history should be in reverse chronological order and no more than 10 years of employment details provided. You can simply list earlier titles and companies if you feel there is relevance or important foundations there.

Don’t forget the skills profile. IT, software, equipment, machinery, systems – this is a great opportunity to keyword optimise (more coming up on that) and for the organisation to find common ground with your resume.

Guide the reader’s eye, use shading or enlarged font for name and headings, bold or different colour for position titles. But keep it consistent throughout!


The resume is about you, but it’s not meant for you. Make sure the content of your resume is tailored for the specific job target and relevant to the employer needs (skills, experience, qualifications).

Recruiters are reviewing resumes with a very clear brief in their mind of what they’re looking for and they want to obtain that information as quick as they can.

Do you meet the minimum requirements? Do you have the required qualifications? In most instances, there is a certain amount of knowledge required to do something.

Company description: Many recruiters will go and search companies to help understand your suitability of background.

Role title: In my last article I recommended considering how your current or past titles may have more widely used terms or synonyms. If you were Customer Engagement Champion but applying for Relationship Manager, I would suggest making this minor change. Keywords, keywords, keywords.

Scope/Responsibilities: This the essence of what you do. The key functions you were essentially hired and accountable to deliver on.

Achievements: Stand on your soapbox and share a few key highlights. Lead with the result, quantifying where possible and briefly indicate ‘how’ you achieved those.

When you’re done, review every point in your resume through the lens of the reader.

Keyword Optimisation

The clues to apply for your next role are right there in the advertisement. Tweak your resume to exactly adopt the language and key terms used in the advertisement (as long as you can back it up of course!)

Going through each of the points in the vacancy and being able to directly reflect them somewhere in your own experiences will quickly confirm if you’re barking up the wrong tree or strongly suited.

I’ve heard more times than I can count ‘I know I could do the role if just given the chance.

Recruiters look for a logical hire – someone who makes sense. Don’t expect them to try and make sense of your career and extrapolate your potential. They are engaged by the client to find the perfect fit and need to get this right.

Make sure you

  • Are suitably qualified (preferable or essential); can you tick off 80% of the requirements?
  • Live locally or convey your intentions to relocate
  • Package your skills and experience so your offering matches their needs

Transitioning successfully rests on how well you help recruiters/hirers see the value of your past experiences in line with their needs.


I’ve helped hundreds of jobseekers update their resume to land their next role. If you’d like professional resume writing assistance to see faster results in your job search, please reach out to [email protected]

By Bec O’Connor