The Recruiter’s Critical Eye: How Resumes Are Looked At

06.30.2022 | Blog

Good day, Everyone!

Recruiters look for many different qualifications when they come upon a resume, and these qualifications can be both found on and implied from the resume. It may seem obvious, but this is a huge part of a recruiter’s work. In fact, it is the first step to us matching, connecting with, and submitting potential candidates to the positions we oversee.  As an outsourced recruiting agency, we review (quite literally) up to dozens of resumes daily for various positions. When we look over a resume, there are many things that we look for, but they can all be summed up in one word: Qualifications.

Before touching on the specifics of what we look for, I would like to mention how important a well written resume is. We recruiters have to utilize our time to not only search, but make contact with, screen, and potentially coordinate with candidates for our clients’ positions. So, a strongly put together resume is essential for a candidate to get interest from a recruiter.

Qualifications we tend to look for on the resume itself include what is stated in the objective/career summary, skills, and education/training. In terms of what is not specifically written on the resume, we tend to look at how detailed the resume is, the spelling/grammar of its contents, and anything else that can tell us how well a candidate can communicate.

  • The objective or summary often tells us if the candidate is open to different careers or if they are looking for specific positions. Depending on the case, we may contact the candidate for the positions we are handling.
  • We look for skills, both listed in their own section on the resume as well as from the task and achievements listed in the work history. Often times, skills along with the level of and potential to learn them are a huge factory in a jobseeker’s candidacy for a client’s role.
  • What a candidate lists for their education and training tells the recruiter how much knowledge or exposure to concepts they have gained/maintained. A job hunter’s previous or current learning can also let us know what their interests for their future career could potentially be.
  • The more detailed a resume is (especially if it is the standard 2 pages or less) the more we can gleam about a candidate’s ability to be concise and thorough, something essential for a lot of jobs and careers.
  • Correct spelling and grammar are essential for any job requiring constant written communications, which may or may not have to be at business level. As we cannot professionally correct the jobseeker’s resume for fear of potentially misrepresenting them to our clients, it can be difficult in this case for us to place candidates in positions. I myself have had candidates declined for interviews due to incorrect spelling and grammar.
  • There are a few other aspects of a resume that can clue us into a candidate’s ability to communicate. How well organized and formatted a resume is can show us the effort put into the creating it. Any extra information included (volunteerism, interest/hobbies, etc.) tells us more about the personality of potential candidates, and their fit for a particular role.

Before I continue, I would like to say that all the above-mentioned factors are on a case-to-case basis. For example, some client companies are not too particular about the format, or spelling and grammar on the resume for jobs that require little to no computer use. For an entry level position, the listed skills and level of detail on the resume are not as big a factor as the candidate’s ability to communicate. For the recruiter, it even depends on how they come across the resume.

Outsourced recruiting companies like us come across resumes in a few different ways. We perform regular general searches for candidates of certain level of experience, skills, and knowledge. We also receive resumes directly from candidates via job postings on various sites. Sometimes, we even do targeted search different resume databases and professional networking sites for candidates with particular qualifications for a specific position.

  • General searches tend to be the widest nets that the recruiter will cast. Typically, these searches are for finding candidates with general skillsets or experience to add to a pool of potential candidates for current or future openings. For example, one company may search for candidates with specific levels of ability to use a second language or exposure to a specific culture. Others may be focusing on reaching candidates with particular levels of work or industry experience. For these searches, skills and areas of previous education are looked at by recruiters, specifically the quantified/proven/potential ability of what the candidate can do with them.
  • When a candidate submits their resume to a job posting, it is likely going to a recruiter to be looked at it. In this case, they would look for the specific qualifications the role in question requires. Personally, I would say skills (especially what is shown through previous professional/personal experiences) and level of education (but not always area of study) tell us if the candidate would be a fit. Also, the candidate’s stated objective or summary can let us know if this position would be a proper career fit for them. Depending on the position, the details and spelling/grammar shown on the resume, along with how easily the candidate communicates about their potential to the recruiter may also be factors under consideration. However, even the position is not a good fit for the candidate, we can always keep them in mind for other positions that they may be interested in.
  • In cases in which the recruiter is doing a targeted search in databases and networking sites, I feel these tend to be the most critical searches. This because recruiters not only have to look for specific qualifications but also spend company time and resources on trying to get a hold of candidates. Both the stated qualifications and the implied ability to be a good communicator are equally important, especially for small recruiting companies like us. Not only does the job seeker need to be qualified, but there also has to be a certain amount of confidence that we will be able to get a response when we reach out and comfortably communicate during the interview and hiring processes.

Looking at a resume is not as easy a task as one may think it is. In order to successfully connect candidates with our clients’ opportunities, we have many qualifications that we have to consider for each of our positions, and recruiters have to examine each resume we see with a critical eye.

With that in mind, I have a few pieces of advice for jobseekers. To better be picked up by a recruiter, a jobseeker should be sure that their resume strongly shows their capabilities for the types of employment they are looking for and open to. The objective or summary along with skills and previous learning should be clearly discernable when a total stranger reads the resume, and the job seekers ability to communicate should be shown on the paper. Finally, if applying to a particular type of position, the resume’s contents need to appropriately reflect what the recruiter would be looking for.

Thanks for reading!