Resumes: Top 10 Things Managers and Recruiters Evaluate
Writing a resume is a challenging and frustrating experience for most job seekers. Using a Resume Builder, like the one available via Live Career, can help jumpstart the resume writing process. Your product can be positively impacted when you put yourself in the mindset of a Recruiter and/or Hiring Manager, and do some quality assurance from their perspective. First, you need to know the main criteria Managers, Recruiters and others consider when evaluating your resume.
We polled some of our clients and our best and most tenured internal Recruiters and Recruiting Managers around the company, asking "What are the top 3-5 things you evaluate about a resume before you pick up the phone to call them and/or decide to schedule an interview?".
Here are the most common evaluation criteria:
1. Recent Job Titles
This is one of the first signs that a candidate might fit for the position you're seeking. If a candidate applies for a SQL Server DBA role, Recruiters would be hesitant to call them if their recent title was a 'Technical Specialist' or an 'Oracle DBA.' You want to include a job title that isn't too obscure, or doesn't align with the common titles in the industry. Remember, even if your company classifies your job title one way, it might be best to stick with the most widely accepted title of your job function. Are you a Developer, DBA, Project Manager, Architect, etc.? Recruiters and Managers are looking for job titles that match what we're working on or hiring for, otherwise there may be concern as to whether or not you're qualified for the role (which may or may not be true, but make it easy for the resume reviewer to see exactly what your main functions are).
Here's an example: If your company labels you as 'Technical Specialist 2' but your primary role is doing SQL Server Development and Reporting in a senior capacity, we would recommend having 'Sr. Database Developer / Reports Specialist' as the title on your resume.
2. What they highlight in their Skills / Technical Summary section
The summary section of your resumes acts as your elevator pitch, so ask yourself "Am I highlighting the 3-5 things that make me stand out as a candidate?". Think of this as the quick snapshot of your experience and credentials. It's worth mentioning your key job functions, technologies, certifications, and anything else that may separate you from the competition. Make sure this section is in an easy to skim format. We recommend using a table or columns with the skills bullet-pointed, and avoiding paragraphs.
3. Most Recent Job Responsibilities
This is the foundation of your resume, so you really want to make this information clear and concise! What were your day-to-day activities? While it's great if you were on a team and necessary to note key aspects of a project, we want to see your individual contributions more than what the team accomplished (although it's important to note if your team achieved a large milestone). When listing your responsibilities, make sure there is enough detail under each position that it is tailored to that role. We cringe when we see the same job responsibilities copied and pasted under multiple roles. Yes, a lot of your core duties may have been the same, but it's best to find a different way of stating that. Avoid being generic!
4. Tenure at companies and major gaps in employment
A quick glance at dates of employment and significant gaps can demonstrate the strength of your skills and if you're a "job hopper." It's fine to have a few shorter contracts, but most Recruiters and hiring Managers are looking for some longevity in the roles job seekers have held. It's an immediate red flag if someone has changed jobs every 3 months for the past 5-10 years! At the same time, if you have a longer gap, say to care for a family member or try your hand at a new business venture, know that it's ok! This is life after all. Things happen and unique opportunities may arise, but it's important to address those gaps on your resume otherwise it can look suspicious as to why you had two years off, etc.
5. Track record
Recruiters and Hiring Managers like to see career growth throughout a resume. Too often, a progression of internal promotions or addition of responsibilities isn't clear! Adding wording like "Promoted within 8 months to a Team Lead capacity, and involved with hiring, mentoring and code reviews" as a bullet point in job description or in an 'Achievements' section can demonstrate desired traits!
Education and certifications are extremely important to a lot of clients and hiring officials. Either one of these can add to your credibility and show passion and commitment to your chosen field. In regards to education, it's good to list your major if it's applicable to your field (computer science, engineering, etc.). If you have a relevant certification, list that after your name! For example, John Smith, MCSA: SQL Server. Under the Education and Certifications section at the bottom of your resume, you can list more information such as a certification ID, year obtained, and another other pertinent details.
This is something we immediately notice and one of the most common issues we see with resumes. A resume should be clean, clear, and concise so Recruiters and Managers can easily understand your experience. We recommend 5-10 bullet points under each position, not lengthy paragraphs so key responsibilities and contributions don't get lost. With bullet points, the key words will jump off the page to employers! One of our top Recruiters commented "I think it tells a lot about a candidate whether or not they actually take the time to make their resume presentable; depending on the skill set, I weigh this heavier than others, but it shows attention to detail and how they present themselves since the resume is their first impression."
The top 3 things related to formatting that are evaluated include:
- Bullet points are consistent (same size, type, spacing, etc.)
- Key information is on the first page
- Consistent font and size
8. Correct spelling/grammar
One Recruiter mentioned "several major typos will make me pass on a candidate! It always surprises me when I find a resume full of misspelled words… This is a sheet of paper that is supposed to draw in interest from a potential employer and the easiest thing to do is make sure everything is in the proper tense and spelled correctly". Therefore, make sure you use spell check and always proofread. We always recommend having a resume buddy, a trusted mentor, friend, spouse, etc. that will give you honest feedback about the look and feel of your resume! Don't let errors or poor formatting rule you out!
9. Additional involvement / contributions
A key thing that can stand out on a resume is a job seeker's involvement in a local, regional, national or global technical community. Even more so, if they're a contributor to that community. If you're a member of a relevant user group, MeetUp or other technical association, include that in a 'Community Involvement' type section of your resume. You can also include any philanthropic or community service groups you're a part of. Being associated with giving back to your community can only contribute to a positive brand, and can also help establish a connection with the interviewer if they share involvement!
10. Previous companies
One other consideration criterion for many Recruiters and Managers is around the companies candidates have worked for in the past. Several of our Senior Recruiters know which organizations locally have strong IT departments and/or who are known to hire strong technology talent. While a lot of this could be outside your control, it shows the importance of doing your homework to ensure you're "interviewing the company/interviewer" in addition to being interviewed for each opportunity you're considering!
When initially drafting your resume, and then updating each time you re-enter the job market, remember the key things Recruiters and hiring Managers evaluate. Ask yourself these questions:
- Did I spell check my resume and check for any grammar errors? Did I have a second person review?
- Are my credentials listed properly?
- Do my job titles match common, recognizable job titles in the industry?
- Is it clear what my day-to-day responsibilities are? Did I include my individual contributions in a clear, concise, bullet-pointed format?
- Did I address any gaps in my employment?
- How is my formatting? Do font and size match up? Is my resume easy to read?
- Is my career growth/history of promotions clearly stated?
- Does my Skills/Technical Summary act as my elevator pitch, highlighting the 3-5 things I possess that make me stand out as a candidate?
- Did I clearly portray any involvement in technical communities?
- Is it easy to tell what certifications I possess and/or the education I received?
About the author
Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.
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Article Last Updated: 2016-06-02