Think Like a Recruiter to Get Your Next Job

Think Like a Recruiter to Get Your Next Job

With several talented people displaced by COVID-19, we thought about talking to our in-house recruiters to understand how they think while recruiting so that it can help current jobseekers. Learning about the recruiting process directly from the hiring experts might come handy in your job search.

How to get your resume picked by a recruiter?

Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes a week. How can you differentiate yours from the others?

  1. Prioritize Quality vs Quantity.

Only apply for positions requesting experiences that match your background.

Most of the ATS systems (used for recruiting) will show how many positions you applied for and what type of roles you’re targeting. Applying to multiple roles could be interpreted as lack of focus on the candidate’s part which can reduce your chances of getting picked.

We suggest that you apply to positions where there’s at least 60 to 70 percent match with the requirements. Make sure you target specific roles aligned with your experience and customize your resume to briefly describe those experiences.

  1. Be Assertive

When there’s a huge response to job postings, instead of opening every resume, recruiters search for keywords related to the requirements. To cite an example, if a candidate is applying for a Scrum Master position while the resume only mentions agile project management, it will not come up during the keyword research.

Make sure that you list all your major skills along with the job title for the position on your resume.

In case your previous job title isn’t common in the market, conduct a web research on what are the most common roles for your experience and update your resume accordingly.

  1. Be Concise

Recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds on every resume, mainly looking for previous job titles, industry and location. Only when they find this information satisfactory, they start going into the details.

That’s why the description of your past experiences should be concise. Try to not exceed 10 bullet points per experience, otherwise it starts to get confusing and less appealing. Describe the most relevant projects/tasks you worked on and try to match them with the requirements on the job description.

In case you aren’t able to find anything common in the past five years with the job description, the position may not be a fit for you. Your recent job roles are the most relevant.

When it comes to the size of your resume, two pages are good enough. You don’t need to get into the details of all your past experiences. Most recent positions are usually considered the most relevant for a new role. You can also summarize the oldest only with titles and dates in the bottom.

  1. Mention Relevant Information

It’s always good to mention relevant recognitions, awards and certifications. The relevance of these accolades will vary depending on your career path.

For technical roles, we recommend that you add your certifications, while for sales, it always helps if you add information like target achievements or awards (e.g. President’s Club).

Mentioning relevant projects could be helpful, however, if you have too many projects, your resume might get longer than usual, and thus less appealing.

  1. Create a Clean Resume

It is important to make sure your resume looks good. Avoid using small font sizes, some people reduce the size of their font to include more information on the same page, however, if it’s too small, it will be difficult for the recruiter to read.

Organize your experiences with the most recent on top and create a space between them to clearly define when you moved from one company to another. It is important to include the dates and a brief description.

If your resume just mentions your title, but doesn’t include a description, the recruiter won’t be able to assess your experience and might pass on your resume.

Should I Add a Cover Letter?

That is always a good question and there is no correct answer to that. It will depend on the industry you are applying.

The technology industry works in a fast-paced environment and the recruiters usually don’t look at cover letters; they just directly look at resumes. However, if you are applying to a traditional industry, a cover letter could add value.

Always remember that a cover letter should be customized to the job you are seeking and cover all the points succinctly. Try to never exceed more than a page and only mention projects relevant to the job description.

When you are applying to multiple jobs, it’s hard to customize each resume and cover letter. If you have to prioritize, customize your resume because it’s the main thing recruiters look at.

The only situation in which we would definitely recommend a cover letter is when you have no work experience and you can use an additional document to explain why you’re applying and why you should be hired.

You were invited for an interview; how should you prepare?

The first thing you should do is research the company to understand their business and the products or services they offer in the market.

Researching the company could be beneficial in different ways:

  • Knowing that you read about the company could show to the recruiter your commitment and desire to get the opportunity. It’s natural for recruiters to choose people who are motivated to get the job.
  • You will also learn about the company and could ask smarter questions to understand if the job is a good match for you. In case you get more than one offer, you will have enough insights to decide what is best for you.

You should also save the job description to remember the employer’s requirements so you can initiate discussion about the most relevant facts.

Another important point to remember is the questions that you might have for the recruiter — we recommend that you write a few down. Asking questions will give you insights about their expectations from the role that aren’t mentioned in the job description.

If you know someone that works for this potential employer, that’s a great asset!

Contact them and ask questions about the company, their values, what they look for when hiring. There is no such thing as too much information.

What important details should you mention in an interview?

For those who have been working for long, compressing your experience over a 30-minute phone conversation can be difficult. Instead of going over every past work experience, try to understand what the recruiter wants to know by their questions and use your time in a smarter way.

Maybe your past experiences will not be as relevant for the position so there is no need to mention it unless they specifically ask about a role.

Your answers should be direct and include brief details about what you did and achieved with examples. When time is limited, you need to divulge relevant facts while being succinct.

Don’t be afraid to miss a few things. The recruiter will ask you if you forget to describe anything important. On the other hand, sharing details that are not relevant to the position could consume your time and may not impact the outcome.

Even if your past jobs weren’t easy for you or you were unhappy with your role, avoid being negative. The interview should be a constructive conversation and you should try to be positive by focusing on your learnings.

Also, don’t be afraid to seek clarity on any question if you can’t fully understand what they want to know. You can also repeat what you understood to confirm so that you can answer it correctly.

Always be honest! You aren’t expected to know everything. If you have never worked on something the recruiter is asking about, you can say that you don’t have experience in that particular area. You may have similar experience to share that could help, and you should bring it up.

What makes a good interview?

Usually, a good interview is like a good conversation. The recruiter will ask you questions, and you will respond accordingly. It is healthy to ask questions as well since it demonstrates your interest and commitment to the process. Not having any questions could indicate a lack of interest from your end.

Recruiting is like dating, both sides should want to move forward. You should think of the interview process as your first date where you learn more about the company and understand if it is a fit for you.

Creating rapport in an interview is not an easy thing but could reap amazing results. Here are a few tips you could try:

  • Be positive: Bring positive examples of things that you have worked on in the past.
  • Smile while talking: It is interesting how other people can feel you are smiling without seeing your face.
  • Show interest: When you are talking to people who are interested in what you are saying, the conversation is more pleasant.
  • Be yourself: Authenticity is always good, and you should find a company that allows you to be authentic. People that are authentic at work are usually happier and more satisfied with their job.
  • Find a common ground: Finding similar interests could help you in creating a rapport with your interviewer. Researching about the person you will speak to can help you with that mission.

Ending the interview with a positive comment like “It was nice talking to you” or “thank you for your time” could also help you create rapport and earn some brownie points.

Should you follow up with the recruiter?

It could be helpful, but it is not essential. A thank you note is another strategy to create value and sending it after two days of the interview could keep you under the recruiter’s radar.


Recruiters love referrals for different reasons, however, the main point is that employees know what their companies are looking for and what people need to succeed there. When they decide to refer someone, they usually know this person will be a good fit culturally and probably knowledge-wise.

If you know someone who could refer you to a position in their organization, don’t hesitate to ask. It will put your profile ahead of regular applicants.

Does it mean you are going to get the job? Not necessarily.

You need to possess the right skills a company is looking for in addition to a cultural fit with the team. Use a referral wisely, only ask people to refer you when you have at least 60-70% of the skills listed on the job description.

We hope you now have some useful insights that could help with your job search. Good luck.