This is the harsh reality: when it comes to submitting a resume and cover letter, you only have about 10-15 seconds to stand out.

Recruiters deal with 30-300 applications for each and every job opening, which is simply an unreasonable amount of resumes for any one person to sift through (even with the help of an Applicant Tracking System!).

Therefore the recruiter is only skimming your resume, not reading it. Though this isn’t necessarily fair, it is the reality of how things work in today’s breakneck economy. Until a better system is developed, job hunters like you have to learn how to outsmart the system to get noticed. Resume writers can help you with this.

The recruiter’s job is to spot the little bits of information that make you stand out as a potentially perfect candidate for the open position. To help get the attention of the recruiter, I always recommend using concise bullets on your resume - not long paragraphs or dense content. If a recruiter sees a giant block of text, I promise you 95% of the time they’re not reading it. They simply do not have the time. As for your cover letter, they might not even look at it at all.

So how can you effectively and efficiently communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (aka USP) in such a short time? Your resume must demonstrate what sets you apart from the rest in the pile. Basically, if you had to explain why you’re the perfect fit for any one role in a brief elevator ride (hence the term elevator pitch), what would you say?

Do the recruiter a favor and make that information easy to read, digest, and process. Give them only the most important, memorable points — succinctly. Outline what you have done in the past and how that work and those accomplishments will help their company by hiring you. If it’s important information, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s seen.

  • Be succinct!
  • Give recruiters what they are looking for in 10 seconds or less.
  • Share outcomes of major projects you’ve been a part of
  • Highlight your top skills
  • Quantify your accomplishments
  • Bold keywords or phrases that are directly relevant to the position you are applying to.
  • Think in terms of results and outcomes.

Make sure your resume articulates the 3-5 things that are crucial for the recruiter to know about you so they’ll want to convince the hiring manager that you are worthy of an interviewing. Save detailed explanations for the interview, which will be your opportunity to go into greater depth about your subject matter expertise — which is what both they and you want. These type of details are why resume writers are valuable.

Recruiters like to see things in short bursts of information, so if you can’t keep it all in bullet form, consider brief paragraphs (2-4 sentences max). The goal is to make it easy for the recruiter to quickly identify relevant information from your resume and present it in a way that makes you a candidate they want to interview. Help yourself stand out from every other applicant and show why you’re a perfect fit for the position. Use bullet points and short paragraphs to make sure they see what they want and what you want them to see.