Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Recruiters screen lots applicants every day, so their annoyance threshold for poorly written resumes is pretty low. A laundry list of tasks, tired objectives, and overused buzzwords won’t capture their attention – and probably won’t get you to the next round.
Let’s talk about the top three things on resumes that recruiters don’t care about and what you should do instead.
Recruiters don’t care about your job responsibilities, they care about your accomplishments
If you’re simply recreating a list of tasks from your job description, recruiters will zone out. After all, they’re recruiters. They probably know quite a bit about the responsibilities of related positions in their industry.
Instead of telling them what they already know, show them your accomplishments. But don’t worry – that doesn’t mean plaques and trophies. Talk about the impact of your work.
Let’s look at a before and after. This person worked as a part-time legal secretary during college. Upon graduation, they decided to apply for a position as a paralegal in a larger law firm.
Task Focused Resume (Before)
Prepared affidavits, legal correspondence and other documents for attorneys
Organized and maintained documents in a paper or electronic filing system
Filed pleadings with court clerk
Organized exhibits for trial
Investigated facts and laws of cases to prepare cases and determine causes of action
Directed and coordinated delivery of subpoenas
Called witnesses to testify at hearings
Kept law library up-to-date by monitoring legal volumes
Accomplishment Focused Resume (After)
Created a streamlined process for trial preparation to help the attorneys focus on their cases
Acted as primary resource for initial case research by maintaining our law library
Developed cloud-based templates for commonly used contracts, pleadings, and affidavits
As you can see, the first example could have been taken directly from their job description.
It describes what they do but doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything other than what a legal secretary does. The second example explains how they took initiative to make the law firm more efficient and shows that the applicant understands the impact of their role.
Recruiters don’t care about your objective, they care about your personal brand
Rather than writing a long-winded statement at the top of your resume about how you’re “looking for a dynamic company where I can advance my career,” focus instead on branding yourself.
You want the recruiter to immediately understand what you’re all about and how it can benefit their company. Let’s look at a few examples.
Creative graphic designer with extensive knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator
Innovative educator with experience in preschool and elementary settings
Compassionate social worker specializing in addiction recovery
Aspiring family law attorney focused on mediation and collaborative law
If you’re not quite sure how to brand yourself, or you don’t have a lot of experience yet, you might try something like this:
Recent nursing school graduate with specialized pediatric certificate
Aspiring family law attorney interested in mediation and collaborative law
Recent accounting graduate studying for CPA
Environmental steward with biology and sustainability degree
Recruiters don’t care about buzzwords, they care about
Last but not least, ditch the buzzwords. Recruiters are not impressed that you’re a results-oriented team player. Not only does it show lazy resume writing, it doesn’t give them any assurance that you actually have the skills you’ve noted.
If you really are a team player, show them some proof. Here’s some examples:
Collaborated on a one-year campus diversity project with ten other students, which involved facilitating forums, collecting surveys, and analyzing the results to present our recommendations
Worked together with five coworkers on a customer service improvement task force, which gathered feedback from customers and recommended changes to our procedures
If collaboration and teamwork are a core part of the job, this will make a much bigger impression on the recruiter than simply stating you’re a team player. (Plus, it won’t make them groan)
Avoid the things that recruiters DON’T CARE about:
Your job responsibilities
And focus on what they DO CARE about:
Your personal brand
Your proven skills