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What Recruiters Look for in a Resume: A Guide for Job Seekers

May 24, 2024 10:30:00 AM
By The TPD Team

in Job Seeker, Job Search Quick Tips, Resume, CANDIDATE

In today’s competitive job market, your resume is often the first impression you make on a potential employer. Understanding what recruiters look for can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview. This guide will walk you through the key elements that make a resume stand out to recruiters.

Key Elements Recruiters Look for in a Resume

1. Clear and Professional Format

Recruiters spend only a few seconds initially scanning a resume, so a clean, professional format is crucial. Use a simple, easy-to-read font, consistent formatting, and plenty of white space. Avoid overly complex designs or graphics unless you are in a creative field where this might be expected.

2. Contact Information

Ensure your contact information is up-to-date and easily visible at the top of your resume. Include your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile if you have one.

3. Professional Summary

A brief professional summary at the beginning of your resume should highlight your key skills and experiences. This summary should be tailored to the job you’re applying for and include specific achievements that make you a strong candidate.

4. Relevant Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. For each role, include your job title, the company name, dates of employment, and a bulleted list of your key responsibilities and achievements. Focus on accomplishments that demonstrate your skills and the impact you had on the organization.

5. Quantifiable Achievements

Whenever possible, quantify your achievements. Use metrics such as sales figures, percentage increases in efficiency, or the number of projects completed. This helps recruiters see the tangible results of your work.

6. Skills and Competencies

Include a skills section that highlights both hard and soft skills relevant to the job. Hard skills might include software proficiency or technical abilities, while soft skills could encompass teamwork, communication, or leadership qualities.

7. Education and Certifications

List your educational background and any relevant certifications. Include the name of the institution, degree obtained, and graduation date. For certifications, include the certifying body and the date of completion.

8. Keywords

Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes before they reach a recruiter. To pass through these systems, include keywords from the job description in your resume. This shows that you have the specific skills and experiences the employer is seeking.

9. Tailored Content

Tailor your resume for each job application. Highlight the most relevant experiences and skills for the specific role you are applying for. This demonstrates that you have taken the time to understand the job requirements and how your background fits.

10. Professional Tone and Error-Free Content

Ensure your resume is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Use a professional tone and avoid using jargon or slang. Proofread your resume multiple times and consider having a friend or professional review it as well.

FAQ Section

What should I include in my professional summary?

Your professional summary should be a brief statement (2-3 sentences) that highlights your key skills, experiences, and what makes you a strong candidate for the position. Tailor it to the specific job you’re applying for by including relevant achievements and skills.

How can I make my resume stand out to recruiters?

To make your resume stand out, use a clean and professional format, quantify your achievements, include relevant keywords from the job description, and tailor your content to the specific role. Highlight your most relevant experiences and skills.

What is the best resume format to use?

The best resume format is typically reverse chronological, where you list your work experience starting with the most recent position. This format is preferred by most recruiters and makes it easy for them to see your career progression.

How many pages should my resume be?

Ideally, your resume should be one to two pages long. If you have less than 10 years of experience, aim for one page. For those with more extensive experience, a two-page resume is acceptable. Be concise and focus on the most relevant information.

What are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and how do they work?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software tools that help employers manage the recruitment process. ATS scans resumes for specific keywords related to the job description. To pass through an ATS, include relevant keywords from the job posting in your resume.

Should I include a photo on my resume?

In most cases, it is not recommended to include a photo on your resume, especially in the United States. Photos can lead to unconscious bias and are generally unnecessary unless you are applying for a job where appearance is a key part of the role, such as acting or modeling.

How do I list my work experience if I have gaps in employment?

If you have gaps in your employment, be honest and prepared to explain them during an interview. You can use a functional resume format to emphasize your skills and experiences over your chronological work history or include a brief explanation in your resume or cover letter if appropriate.

What are some common resume mistakes to avoid?

Common resume mistakes to avoid include spelling and grammatical errors, using an unprofessional email address, including irrelevant information, using a cluttered or complex design, and failing to tailor your resume to the specific job.


Creating a resume that stands out to recruiters involves more than just listing your job history. By focusing on a clear format, relevant experience, quantifiable achievements, and tailored content, you can increase your chances of catching a recruiter’s eye. For more personalized advice or help with your job search, feel free to contact us at TPD. Good luck with your job hunt!

Filed under Job Seeker, Job Search Quick Tips, Resume, CANDIDATE

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