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Think Like a Recruiter

When it comes to writing a resume that will grab the attention of a recruiter, it's important to put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective. This means understanding their job, the context in which they are reviewing resumes, and what they are looking for.

Understand Their Job

Part of a recruiter's job is to review resumes and see if they meet the job requirements set by the hiring manager. This means that they are looking for specific skills, experiences, and qualifications that align with the needs of the role. If a resume doesn't meet the requirements, it will be rejected.

Understand Their Context

When reviewing resumes, a recruiter is likely doing so quickly and in large numbers. Their initial impression will be based on a quick scan, so it's important to make sure that the most important information stands out. They won't do a more thorough read if the scan isn't impressive, so make it count.

Additionally, recruiters may not have a technical background, so it's important to avoid writing your resume in a way that assumes they will understand complex technical jargon or concepts. Keep it simple and clear.

Understand the Requirements

To decide what a recruiter will be looking for in your resume, it's helpful to read the job posting and imagine what their mental checklist might be when reviewing resumes. Here are some examples of things they may be looking for:

  • How many years of experience do you have in a relevant field?
  • Do you have a degree in a relevant field?
  • Do you have specific skills or technologies listed on your resume that align with the job requirements?
  • Do you have experience managing a team or project?

By understanding what a recruiter is looking for, you can make sure to include the most important information on your resume and prioritize it in a way that stands out and is easy to find.

What's Missing?

In addition to understanding what a recruiter will be looking for on your resume, it's also helpful to consider what they are not looking for. This can help you decide what to leave off of your resume and avoid cluttering it with unnecessary information.

For example, if you are applying for a job as a software developer, a recruiter is not likely to be interested in your experience as a lifeguard from 10 years ago. In this case, it's better to leave that experience off of your resume and focus on the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job.

The Elevator Pitch

A fun exercise is to imagine you got a single elevator ride with the recruiter. How would you convince them to interview you?

Now look at your resume and be critical. Is the first impression similar to the elevator pitch? If not, you should update your resume. You can also share your resume with others, but tell them only to look at it for ten seconds and then tell you what stood out to them. You want them to say as close to your elevator pitch as possible.


To create a resume that stands out to recruiters, put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are looking for. Tailor your resume to the specific job requirements and make sure the most important information is easy to find.

Last updated on December 13, 2022