Recruiters WANT To Screen You Out

double_padlocked_door_squareOn my LinkedIn feed last week, I stumbled upon this post titled, “5 Simple Ways to Get Your Resume Noticed by a Recruiter” written as a guest post by a recruiter at Intuit. Here at Fundamentum, we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest job hunt strategies and side doors. A look into the mind of a recruiter should be useful, right?

Let’s walk through the steps one-by-one, decoding the recruiter speak to get a peek into the author’s mind:


Step 1:

Their advice: “Pay Attention to the Title of the Description. As you will notice, this title gives you a great idea of the position. If you do not have this experience, you should stop right here and move on to the next opening. If you do happen to have this experience, it is very important to ensure your resume clearly states what they are looking for!”

Our interpretation: Do you know what the difference is between an “Account Manager” and an “Accounting Representative”? Does the role of Director of Product require the same set of skills at a 10-employee company and a 10,000-employee company? Job titles are invented, not standardized. According to What Color is Your Parachute, only 4% of job seekers who use the internet as their search method for finding jobs will find a job – primarily because of confusion relating to job-title matching. In sum: screen yourself (out).


Step 2:

Their advice: “Recognize Company Culture. The first part of any job description will give you an idea of the company culture, and if possible you should aim to have your resume in this same tone/voice. You can pick out key words in this part of the job description, and apply these key words directly to your resume. This is a great opportunity to put words like Versatile, Fast-Paced, Passionate, and Forward Thinking into your resume”

Our interpretation: Rewrite your resume to include vague, non-specific buzzwords like “forward thinking” – what does that even mean? Rewrite your resume in the style and tone of the company rather than in your own unique style? Because going full Borg seems like the best way to help you stand out from the crowd… Reality check: Resumes are bad enough in that they reduce you to a piece (or two) of paper. Your resume tells your story, and should use your experience, your tone, and your voice to do it.


Step 3:

Their advice: “Meet The Minimum Requirement, Make sure you at least meet the minimum qualifications. It is important these qualifications are listed on your resume, and easily seen. You should never assume the person reading your resume will know you have a certain qualification. Most of the time, the recruiter will spend 15 seconds reading your resume, and disqualify you if he/she does”

Our interpretation: No really, please screen yourself (out). Kidding aside, it is common knowledge that job postings often request the ideal candidate, but that the company may be willing to compromise on the minimum experience in favor of a candidate with a higher degree or experience in a separate field relevant to the job, etc. The recruiter would appreciate it if you remove yourself from the running if you don’t match perfectly on every metric to help them narrow the field. Apply anyway.


Step 4:

Their advice: “Have Some Preferred Qualifications Listed (If You Are Able) The last section of the job description is where you can separate yourself from the pack. It is always nice to have the preferred qualifications, but not a necessity. Remember, if there are hundreds of applicants, what is going to make you different from the others.”

Our interpretation: Okay, okay, we’ll give him credit for this one, as this is actually a solid piece of advice:  know what skills are required for this position and make sure your resume shows that you have these skills. The person sorting through resumes doesn’t have time to guess. However, this doesn’t have to be a complete rewrite each time, and this shouldn’t be a list of disembodied skills tacked onto the end of your resume. Instead, quantify what value you added by using these skills/attributes in your previous position(s) – how much time did you save? How much additional revenue did you bring in? – and work these quantifiable statements into your bulleted list of job achievements and responsibilities.


Step 5:

Their advice: “Remember the Most Qualified Isn’t Always Seen. Don’t forget, you could be the most qualified candidate, but if you do not take the time before submitting your resume you could be easily overlooked. Don’t shoot the messenger. Make it simple for the recruiter to recognize your skill sets!”

Our interpretation: Follow the previous four steps. Maybe this super-helpful fifth step is intended for those types who read the last page of a book first.

If we disqualify number five for being a piece of meta-advice with no additional added value, 50% of the remaining “simple steps to get your resume noticed” are, at their heart, requests for you not to submit your resume. Even worse, the author of the advice post says himself that “the most qualified [candidate] isn’t always seen” when sorting through resumes!


Our advice? Take the side door – get out there and talk to everyone you know. Someone, certainly, knows someone who knows someone at that company. That someone at that company may not know the hiring manager, but should be able to direct you to someone who does. Skip the recruiter – get a meeting with that person. The hiring manager doesn’t want the stooge who put “forward thinking” on their resume – they want you and all the unique and wonderful experiences and skills you bring. Show them how awesome you are. Solve their problem. Get hired.

Posted by Meg Glasser