In most fields, it’s an employers’ market. With hundreds of resumes pouring in for a single opening, recruiters often begin their review in weed-out mode. In this competitive market, it’s more important than ever for job seekers to understand what recruiters are looking for and adapt. When preparing your resume and communicating with a recruiter, keep these five issues in mind—because the recruiter will be.
· Tailor your resume to a specific job: With the high volume of resumes passing through a recruiter’s inbox, generic isn’t going to get you noticed. Read the job description carefully and create a resume that focuses on your most relevant skills and experience. And, because many recruiters use software to scan for specific skills and experience, tailor your language to the posting as well.
· Narrow your focus: On a related note, recruiters are often wary of an applicant whose experience is too broad-based. While this means a wide range of skills, it may also send the message that you don’t know what you want to do and may not be committed to the position you’re seeking. When preparing a job-specific resume, stay focused—recruiters generally aren’t looking for renaissance men.
· Write a specific cover letter for each job: Just like tailoring your resume, a personalized cover letter will help protect you from the initial weed-out. Aside from demonstrating that you haven’t just mass-emailed your resume as many job seekers do, a good cover letter may save you from the first-round weed-out by closing an apparent gap in skills or experience, explaining a period of unemployment or describing why you’re interested in a particular position.
· Make sure your resume and reference information are up to date: Whether out of laziness or an attempt to blur unemployment dates, many applicants fail to update resumes—especially with termination dates. Don’t let a recruiter learn that you’re no longer employed from someone else, or surprise her by revealing information in an interview that conflicts with your resume.
· Don’t make work for the recruiter: It may sound harsh or even unreasonable to suggest that if the recruiter has to revisit an attachment to get your contact information or convert a file to a different format in order to read it, you’re likely to get passed over. However, with the volume of resumes recruiters receive, it’s a practical reality. They’re busy and moving fast, and if you haven’t made it easy for them chances are that they’ll just keep moving…on to the next applicant.
It’s a tough market out there, but people are getting hired every day. There are several key factors which determine whether or not you get an interview, and some differ depending on the position or the recruiter. However, the tips above will give you a strong leg up as you let recruiters know that you’re invested in a particular job and willing to work to set yourself apart from the large pool of job seekers in competition with you.