From Trash to Treasure: How to Get Recruiters to Actually Read Your Resume

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By: BrightMove Recruiting Software

Have you ever watched ABC’s reality show, The Bachelor? Thousands of women submit auditions just for a chance to get on this popular show. Then, producers scrutinize videos to find 25 flawless female suitors. Just as producers cast for very specific criteria, including charm, style, class and culture, recruiters also look very carefully at candidates’ resumes to find their perfect employee: the hidden gem amongst all the junk.

Recruiters are flooded with hundreds of resumes everyday for any one position. That means, the majority of the time, they are sifting through their scary stacks looking for any disqualification that could narrow down their choices. Resumes are very powerful documents. If written properly, resumes score you that precious interview. If written poorly, resumes never see the light of day and are destined for the dumpster.

The most important advice I can give to job-seekers is to use keywords from the job description on their resume. This seems like a no-brainer, but many people use the same resume for every job that they apply for, even though every company and position is different. Not only does this show laziness on the candidate’s part, but it also shows their lack of qualification. Recruiters don’t have time to waste; make it easy for them to see upfront that you are clearly qualified.

For example, if you want to apply for a pharmaceutical sales job, and the requirements are experience in the pharma field plus an MBA, but you have no healthcare experience and only a bachelor’s degree, should you waste your time and the recruiters? No. Candidates do this all the time: apply for jobs with no industry experience. They seek out their dream job without being equipped with the proper skills and education.  If you truly want to switch careers, go back to school to acquire education in niche fields like pharmaceuticals, radiation therapy, aviation, etc. Take an unpaid internship in your dream field and start networking within the company or field you want to eventually end up in. While working in multiple industries and various jobs shows dexterity and breadth of knowledge, it’s hard for recruiters to gauge what you are good at and hone in on your expertise.

Don’t make it difficult for them by burying your sales experience at the bottom of your resume, and highlighting your marketing successes when you are applying for a sales rep position. While tailoring every single resume to every job position can be time consuming and even frustrating, it will pay off in the end. Instead of sending out hundreds of trash-destined resumes out to recruiters, shoot for a couple of well-thought out and well-written customized resumes daily that truly speak to the intricate needs of the job position.

If you have carefully read the job description and think you would be the perfect fit, tailor your resume and be prepared to back up your claims with evidence: awards, stats, portfolios, references, etc.

Job descriptions are insightful. I read them all the time to see what companies are looking for in my field, and you should do the same to stay competitive.


  1. Philip Darrah on February 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Hi, Mary:

    I am a Recruiter who has specialized exclusively in Radiation Oncology (Medical Physics, Dosimetry, and Radiation Therapy) since 2004. A quick comment on your article regarding your suggestion that people look into Radiation Therapy as a career change.

    That used to be a great idea. In fact, Rad Therapy was chosen as one of the top 5 income careers for people with just an Associates Degree as little as 4 years ago.

    However, the training schools across the country went bananas and proceeded to lure countless students into their Rad Therapy programs and suck 2 years of tuition out of them, only to then dump them into a market that was shrinking, and has continued to shrink as the economy has faltered and halted the constructed of new Cancer Centers. The job market for new-grad Rad Therapists has been abysmal since 2009 and shows no signs of short-term improvement. The majority of Rad Therapists who have graduated between 2009-2013 have failed in finding a full-time position, and most abandoned their job searches after 1 year and pursued different career alternatives. A single posting for a full-time Rad Therapist vacancy now generates 75-100 resumes. As a specialized Recruiter in this niche, I have not placed a Rad Therapist in a permanent full-time position since 2010. There is a limited market for Locums Therapists with specialized equipment experience, and a few of my Locums Therapists have ended up getting hired full-time by my clients, but that’s been it.

    In my opinion it has been, at best, a cold and calculating effort on the part of the schools, and at worst, near-criminal. Perhaps you could edit future articles on suggested career changes to reflect this new reality.

    Thanks for your consideration!


  2. Ivana Trufcheva on February 21, 2013 at 5:28 am

    I am convinced that it is very difficult to summarize in two pages who do you are in reality and what are you capable of. If you are experienced and highly qualified two pages are not enough. However employers do not read the second page either.
    The most important things is personal networking – who do you know! If people value you and trust that you have excellent interpersonal skills, they are keen to give you even a job you are not qualified for, if they believe that you have potential for.
    Everything else is just words.

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