How to Avoid Leaving a Recruiter with Questions about Your Resume


How important is making a great first impression with your resume? Well, when you consider the volume of resumes recruiters receive, and the fact that they often have a maximum of two minutes to review each one and make a decision, it becomes pretty darn important.

Your resume may look fantastic and be free of typos, but did you know that there’s another key mistake many candidates make? In much the same way typos and poor formatting can be a deal-breaker, leaving your audience (the person reviewing your resume) with questions is a big no-no.

While resumes can sometimes leave recruiters with good questions (“That looks interesting, I wonder if…?”), more often than not, the questions are due to confusion and could ultimately result in your resume being disregarded.

Here are some tips on how to eliminate the possibility of unwanted questions arising from your resume.

Format Strategically

Resumes that look pretty but don’t include information that a recruiter needs to make a decision are not very useful. Your resume should be simple, clean, and well structured. As mentioned above, recruiters don’t have copious amounts of time to spend with each resume, so a format that makes them work too hard to find relevant information could hurt your chances of moving past the first stage of the hiring process.

Don’t list every single job you’ve ever had, and don’t list every minor task you were responsible for in previous roles. Think big picture. What are the most important things the recruiter needs to know about you as an employee, and what are the best ways of conveying that information?

Avoid using the functional resume format, which lists skills and abilities without including information about your chronological work history, as this doesn’t provide enough information about where you’ve built your experience, and for how long.

Read: “Resume Mistakes Accounting Candidates Make, Pt. I” and “Resume Mistakes Accounting Candidates Make, Pt. II” to learn what other resume mistakes you should avoid.

Use Specifics

Too many resumes include vague statements such as “great communicator”, “fast learner”, and “team player”. This really doesn’t tell recruiters much about you, since most people use these phrases when applying for a job. Instead, opt for brief descriptions about what makes you a “great communicator”, “fast learner”, or “team player” and include specifics wherever possible.

The best specific information to include is quantitative. Mention how many dollars you saved with an idea or initiative you came up with, how many clients you assisted on a daily basis, or how many people you supervised to build a clear picture of your strengths and responsibilities.

Read: “What Finance Recruiters Look for on Your Resume” for more ideas on how to make your resume stand out.

Explain Any Gaps

Gaps in a resume will undoubtedly create questions in the recruiter’s mind. If there are gaps in your chronological work history, be sure to address those as much as possible in your resume. Were you taking time off to go back to school? Were you raising a family? Did you have to take time away for a medical issue? Gaps in your employment aren’t always seen as a negative thing if there are good reasons for them.

Addressing these clearly in your resume can help prevent any questions about whether you take your employment seriously or are someone who has problems sticking with something. It’s also a good idea to mention any personal or professional development that resulted from your time away from work.

If you have worked contract or term positions, these don’t have to be left off of your resume completely. As long as you gained important experience and accomplished specific goals, these can be added along with full-time, long-term positions. Just be sure to spell out why these shorter-term positions are relevant, and specify that they were term positions (so there’s no confusion about why you were in the positions for a shorter period of time).

Show You Understand

One of the biggest questions you should be trying to answer with your resume is, “How does this candidate’s experience and skill set meet the employer’s needs?” By strategically formatting your resume to highlight the most relevant information, as well as clearly explaining what you bring to the table, you’ll be one step closer to securing an interview.

Pinpoint some of the problems the company is trying to solve, or some of the goals they have set, and use the information in your resume to speak to how your presence on their team will serve them well. This requires some research and a willingness to delve deeper into the company’s culture, structure, and needs.

Read: “Tailoring Your Resume” to get tips on how to show an employer you’ve done your research and have created a resume just for them.

Key Takeaways: Your Checklist

  • Use a resume format that is simple, concise, and logical.
  • Place important, relevant information strategically to highlight it.
  • Use specific information, especially numbers.
  • Address any gaps in your chronological work history.
  • Describe any personal or professional development that came from your time away from work.
  • Include relevant contract or term positions in your resume.
  • Show that you understand the company’s needs.
  • Have a friend or family member proofread your resume.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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