How to Write a Resumé That Will Actually Get a Recruiter's Attention

September 24, 2018

How to write a resume recruiters will actually read, according to a longtime recruiter.

A recruiter, on average, will scan a resumé in six seconds or less.

If it’s good, they’ll continue reading and potentially hand it off to the hiring manager – which means you have a chance to get the job.

If they don’t like what they see in those six seconds, they’ll throw your resumé at the bottom of the pile. And your chances of getting the job go down to zero.

So, those six seconds mean a lot. The key is writing a resumé that’ll connect with recruiters in that time.

In her LinkedIn Learning course on Making Recruiters Come to You, longtime recruiter and career coach J.T. O’Donnell explains exactly how to do that.

In her LinkedIn Learning course, longtime recruiter J.T. O’Donnell explains how to write a resume that'll actually get a recruiter's attention.

Key Tactics to Writing a Resumé Recruiters Will Actually Read

In her course, O’Donnell listed several key tactics to make your resumé pass that six-second test. They are:

  • Show, don’t tell.

Don’t write “you are a strategic, innovative self-starter who loves collaboration” on your resumé. That's just going to get you an eye roll.

Instead, tell the facts that make that point. Write how you started your own company or launched a project on your own. Or how you were in the top 5 percent of salespeople at your company six years in a row. Or how you’ve been promoted at every job you’ve ever had.

Those facts will impress recruiters far more than any adjective could.

  • List your skills at the top of the resumé.

Near the top of your resumé, even above your job history, write out your skills. This allows recruiters to quickly scan them to make sure you have what’s needed to do the job.

Obviously, you want to list skills that are germane to the job you are applying for.

  • Ensure your work history on your resumé mirrors your work history on your LinkedIn profile.

If these don’t match up, it's a red flag. So make sure they do.

  • Keep the margins somewhat wide and the font somewhat big.

You don’t want your margins to be smaller than 0.8 inches or use a font less than 11.

Why?

First off, this will make your resumé more appealing to the eye. Second, the last thing the recruiter wants to do is squint to read your resumé – that’ll almost guarantee it doesn’t get read.

But, what if you can't fit everything? Then cut, cut, cut. Which brings us to the next point...

  • For a resumé, less is often more.

You don’t need to list every job you’ve ever had on your resumé. And you don’t need to list every skill you’ve ever mastered, either.

You just need to put the skills you have mastered and the jobs you’ve had that are relevant to the job you are applying for on your resumé. Of course, you need enough to show you can do what’s needed to do the job, but you don’t need to go crazy.

“I tell job seekers this all the time, if a recruiter calls you and says, ‘Hi, I found you on LinkedIn and I checked out your resumé, but I need more information,’ you know you've done this right,” O’Donnell said in her course. “You gave them just enough to want to connect with you.”

*Image from Adam Clarkson, Flickr

Are you looking for a new job? It’s hard to find a better resource on the web than J.T. Donnell’s free LinkedIn Learning course, Making Recruiters Come to You.

Videos within the course teach you how to:

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