Think Like a Recruiter to Get Your Next Job: Part 1

Think Like a Recruiter to Get Your Next Job: Part 1

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.

So let’s start with the most important part: 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.


We hope this information will help you prepare a great resume and help you in getting selected for interviews. Next week we’ll give you tips on how to prepare for an interview and what you should mention.