What recruiters look for in a resume at a first glance

Published on: 15 January 2018 Last updated: 29 November 2018

Milen Ivanov is an entrepreneur recruiting entrepreneurs. He is the founding director of Horizons Recruitments, one of the biggest recruitment companies in Bulgaria. Milen is also the managing partner in CEO Search, a head-hunting company that recruits C-level executives. Having been involved in recruitment and headhunting since 2003, Milen has authored numerous articles, papers, and books on how to search your dream job and be proactive, how to brand and present yourself and how to work with recruiters.

What are the key questions you want to be addressed in a resume?

The way I use resumes is to screen quickly if a candidate has the keywords that I am looking for. For me the key questions are associated with experience, most importantly the last two jobs a candidate had. What I would like to see differently are some numbers, associated with candidates’ achievements. It’s nice to say that you participated in a number of projects, but you need to address some metrics, such as how many people were involved, what the volume of the activity was, what budgets you managed. The more specific you are, the better it is.

I want to learn about the interfaces you have engaged with, I want to get a clear picture of what the candidate’s role was in a company.

The education, I think, matters less the more you advance in your career. You need other side activities, which show your interests, passions, enthusiasm – personal projects, awards, sports activities.

What do you look for in a resume at a first glance?

Relevance. If I am looking for a digital marketer, I would like to see the keywords that the employer would be interested in. The candidate should have been in the right positions in the right companies before. I also want to see a good design and an excellent structure of the resume.

What would you like to see more of in resumes?

I get bored a lot when I look at resumes. They all look pretty much the same. From my point of view, most resumes don’t reflect the personality of a person at all. I want to see more resumes that look nice and are very well-thought-of, very well-built, representing the true colors of the person behind the piece of paper. If a designer is applying for a job, or a financial expert, I want to see a different type of resumes for both.

Further, if the candidate has taken any personality tests, I want to see those on a resume, so that I can get a better perception of the person. I am not talking about a made-up, pseudo-science test, but about some of the recognized personality tests (e.g. Gallup Strengths Test). I would encourage candidates to incorporate such results in their resumes.

Another thing that I don’t see are the achievements. Skills are usually present in resumes, but the achievements tend to be missing. I want to see tangible results that have come out of a person’s work. If you are young, you may think that you have nothing tangible to write about. But if you are creative and think deeply, you can include little things, such as finishing projects on time. These are important and make a good impression.

I also want to read about what the benefit to your employer would be from hiring you. This can be said directly and it would put a candidate ahead of competitors, who don’t make a similar mention. If you can think of a direct and specific benefit of you being hired, it’s always a good idea to include it in your resume.

What do you wish people stopped doing on their resumes?

Stop using cliches and generic words that mean nothing. I see these in most resumes.

In the end of the day, why do you need the resume? To choose someone from the crowd. If you write what everybody else is writing, what’s the point? Try to be more specific and avoid common cliches, such as “I am an open and outgoing person”. What does that even mean?

Try to customize your resume towards the employer’s specific needs. Don’t mass mail, don’t mass apply, this never works. If you don’t know what you are looking for, how are you going to land a job you like? It’s much better to apply to a few positions.

I strongly believe in customizing resumes. This doesn’t mean you have to lie on your resume. It means you have to focus on a certain set of facts important to the industry and employers.

Nowadays, people talk a lot about the resume dying. Do you think that’s true?

Resumes are definitely being disrupted. They are beginning to incorporate more elements – videos, test results, etc. In the next ten to fifteen years, we will be seeing a lot of resume usage in the recruitment process. They are definitely not dying.

Valentina Milanova

An overachiever by day, sleepwalker by night. I like to take the best of both… scratch that… all worlds. Sights permanently set in the future. Creative writing keeps me sane.

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