Resume-Writing2If you are frustrated with how long your job search is taking and why you’re not getting enough interviews despite sending out many applications, it is time to understand how recruiters read resumes.

In my 9 years of recruitment experience and 7 years of working as an interview coach, I’ve worked with thousands of people who could definitely get more interviews if they only understood what I am about to cover in this article.

The first thing to understand is recruiters do not actually “read” resumes. Most likely your CV/resume will be given a maximum of a 10 second overview – a one glance for key elements within a document that determine whether you are to be called for an interview.

As a job seeker, your first task is to pass this resume scan – and here is my number one tip on what you need to do:

Grab the reader’s attention immediately

You might be a multi-talented and multi-dimensional professional, but to pass the resume scan you need to be easily categorized into a role a recruiter actually understands.

If you are a project manager for example, the recruiter needs to understand this in three seconds of opening your resume, so make it obvious with your headings, the language you use, and skills you list. An effective summary section will help the recruiter identify if you are a viable candidate for the position quicker. 

Instead of an objective that can pigeonhole your focus too narrowly or an introduction that adds nothing to your background (e.g. “I am a results-oriented team player” or “I can work on my initiative” etc.), use a powerful headline instead.

Tell them who you are and what you do immediately. Come up with one powerful sentence or phrase to “grab” your reader. Think of this like a headline to a major front-page news story. What is going to grab that reader to want to read further?

For example:

“A seasoned project manager who excels at identifying and solving problems, and has saved an employer more than $300,000 while completing in excess of $1 million worth of projects during the past 3 years.”

Can you see how easy it is for the employer to see how they will get return on their investment if they hire you?

And you don’t have to be in a sales role either to be able to quantify your achievements. Here are some ways in which you can do it even as an average office worker:

Employers can receive hundreds of applications for each vacancy, so it is important you make your application stand out and get short listed for an interview.

I’d really recommend you should send less applications, but also you should customize each and every resume that is sent out and tailor it to the “hot buttons” that will catch the employer or recruiter’s attention within 5-10 seconds.

Don’t make the recruiter work. Your best interests are served if you make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to understand your resume (and do so in a few seconds).


Your Next Steps

For four more tips on how recruiters read resumes, and also to find out why you are not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview, and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download my FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course at


If you’re looking for personal coaching where I will help you tailor your resume to specific jobs, as well as help you create a tailored master plan to help you get your dream job and promotion in the next few weeks, check out my Career Acceleration Plan and if you’re interested in discussing, please email me on



Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach who’s helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the US to get the jobs and promotions they really wanted. Margaret also has 9 years of experience recruiting for a variety of positions at all levels across Europe and in the US, primarily in technology and e-commerce sectors. If you want to find out how recruiters read resumes, why you are not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview, and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download her FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course.




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