This article aims to give a better understanding of what recruiters focus upon when going through a stack of resumes for candidate screening. The answers are provided by Ambra Bejamin, who is an engineering recruiter at Facebook and has previously worked for Living Social, Google and Expendia.
Things recruiters notice in the resume
1. Most recent role
An important thing for the recruiters is to figure out what is the person’s current status and why they are interested in a new role. Questions, which recruiters ask themselves are whether the candidate is laid off. Did he/she get fired? Have they only been in their new role for a few months? Is their most recent experience related to the position for which they are applying?
2. Company recognition
Most recruiters are ‘company snobs’. By company recognition, it is not meant that certain companies might be better than others, but rather a matter of how quickly a frame of reference can be assigned.
3. Overall experience
Overall experience helps the recruiters to figure out whether there is a career progression. Also, do they have increasing levels of responsibility? Do the titles make sense? Do the listed responsibilities match what the recruiter is looking for?
4. Keyword search
Key word search helps to figure out whether the candidate has the specific experience for the role recruiters are hiring. On any given day, Ambra Benjamin, for example, is looking for words like mule, business intelligence, MBA, consulting, POS, cisco, javascrips, and whatever is suitable for the specific position.
Gaps in the resume are not a problem, as long as there is a sufficient explanation. For example, taking three years off to raise children, or trying to start own company, but fail miserably. That’s fine, as long as the candidate provides an explanation.
6. Personal web presence
This includes personal domains, Twitter handle, dribble account or whatever the candidate has chosen to list. Recruiters often check candidates’ websites or Twitter accounts.
7. General logistics
This includes location and eligibility to work in the country.
8. Overall organization of the resume
This includes spelling, grammar, ease of use and ability to present clear ideas.
Things recruiters rarely pay attention to
1. Fancy formatting
Recruiters usually dig creative resumes. However, when a candidate is applying to a position online, most companies’ applicant tracking systems will convert the resume in pure text as it is the most immediate viewing format. Therefore, if the candidate has decided to do something fun and creative with the resume, it should have clean text as well, whenever possible, so it does not come through the system looking wonky. Also, try to send the resume in PDF format.
2. Uncomfortably personal details
These include marital status, family status, reference to health or medical issues and personal photos.
3. Cover letters
Most recruiters do not like and rarely read cover letters. If you however, have decided to send a letter, it better be really good.