Five things executive recruiters look for in a résumé

A professional résumé is designed to encapsulate your career in an easily digestible format, but recruiters tend to focus on a few key details when screening candidates.

In fact, there are five major components we look for to determine whether your résumé is ready for our client: education, organization, growth trajectory, quantifiable data and grammar. Here’s a glimpse at why these are so important:

Education: The first thing our recruiters tend to look at on a professional résumé is education. A candidate’s undergraduate or advanced degree is often important in matching them with the educational requirements of the role we’re working to fill. Additionally, we’ll ask questions about a candidate’s education to prime our career discussions and better understand them as a person. For example, if a candidate told us they were in a debate club during college, we would ask whether they held a leadership position. This information is often a great show of character and allows us to connect with our candidates on a more personal level.

Organization: Laying out your résumé in a way that’s logical and easy to read is critical. It ensures your most important career information is front and center for the recruiter. Having a stellar layout also shows that you understand how to properly communicate with others in a professional manner. Using résumé writing and design services is okay, but if overly designed graphics and information instantly give away the involvement of a third party, some recruiters will see that as a red flag.

Growth trajectory: When our clients hire us to match top talent with mission-critical roles, they want candidates who are interested in growing within their organization. If your résumé shows that you’ve had a steady career progression, that’s a good indication you’re interested in pursuing long-term growth opportunities with our clients. Your organizational layout also plays a major role in this. Even if you have been on a steep growth trajectory throughout your career, it must be displayed clearly through your résumé’s layout.

Quantifiable data: Numbers are worth 1,000 words on a résumé. More often than not, our team will skip past a career objective statement and gravitate towards any numbers or quantifiable data being highlighted in a candidates’ résumé. If you’re able to include nonproprietary information such as the number of business transactions you’ve coordinated in the corporate development industry, the number of new employees you’ve onboarded as a chief human resources officer or the revenue growth you’ve been involved in creating, we want to see that you’ve had a measurable impact in prior roles.

Grammar: It’s not uncommon for recruiters to eliminate candidates entirely due to résumé errors or misspellings. This is why it’s crucial that you proofread your résumé and, if possible, have a friend or colleague review the document for any inaccuracies. People make mistakes, but the nature of the executive recruiting industry demands the best of the best. A résumé with even a minor typo will struggle to compete against one free of errors.

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