29 Aug


Posted by John Brandwagt

Backed by research, we now know recruiters only spend six seconds on an average to scan a resume. Six seconds is all it takes for an employer to decide whether you’ll be considered for the type of job advertised or not. When the window of opportunity is this small, every word on your resume matters.


After extensively researching the key things recruiters look for in a resume, we bring to you some tips to build a 10-minute regimen you should follow before you forward your resume.

1. Proofread Your Resume

Don’t overlook grammar and spelling. If your resume has basic spelling mistakes, say goodbye to your chances of being called for an interview. Not only does this reflect your lack of command on the language, it also conveys a message to the recruiter that you are not serious enough to interview for this position.

2. Format Your Resume

The first thing recruiters will notice – even before they scan your resume for details – is its layout. Make sure you properly format your resume before sending it across. Follow these handy tips:

  1. Font: Keep a constant font across your resume. Research suggests to opt for a Sans-Serif family of fonts for a cleaner, modern and objective look.
  2. Font Size: 12 points is considered ideal for your resume body. Titles can go for 14-16 points, but be consistent with either one of the two sizes.
  3. Alignment and Margins: Recruiters often need to make notes about your experience and education on your resume. These notes then serve as pointers to various types of interview questions. Make sure your resume has proper margins on all sides to allow recruiters space to make notes. If you use bullets, it’s best to keep your resume right aligned.

Remember, there is no set resume template that will guarantee you a call from the recruiter. Resume building – much like your professional experience – is an evolving process. Ensure your resume template is contemporary and the information is easy to parse.

Pro Tip: While preparing your resume, keep the caps lock off since MS Word recognizes capitalized words as proper nouns and tends to skip spelling and grammar reviews on them.

3. Check for Verb Tenses

One of the most common mistakes candidates make that confuses the recruiters is by jumping through past and present perfect tense all across their resume. Go with a rule of thumb on it: If you’re listing your achievements with an organization you are no longer associated with, adopt past tense. If you are reporting your achievements in a current role, use present tense. Consider the below as an example:

Senior IT Project Manager                                                                                                 Toronto, ON

                                                                                                                                       Oct 2014 – Present

Verifies application results by conducting system audits of technologies implemented

Civil Engineering Project manager                                                                              Richmond, BC

                                                                                                                                    July 2008 – Sep 2014

Accomplished financial objectives by forecasting requirements; prepared annual budget

4. Check for Contact Info/Hyperlinks

The resume is your first point of introduction for a recruiter. Make sure your information is correct and up-to-date. Double check your phone number and address. In case you’re providing a link to your social media profile or portfolio, ensure every embedded hyperlink on your resume redirects correctly.

Pro Tip: Make sure your contact info is right at the top of your resume, so the recruiter puts in minimum effort to contact you.

5. Customize Your Resume

Every job opening is unique – both in its responsibilities and the kind of professional required to perform the role. Don’t make a quick judgement about the job title. Dive deep into the specifics and find out which qualities make you perfect for that particular job role. Highlight them while rounding up your experience and interests to make a case for a holistic professional – someone recruiters just can’t afford to ignore.

Check for resume samples online that are closely related to the role you’re applying for. Be active on resume building communities to seek help from individuals who can pass along some resume tweaking tips.

Pro Tip: Since a lot of recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems, it’s best to use the keywords mentioned in the job description to give your resume a better chance to make the cut.

Your resume should be indicative of the level of professionalism you aspire for. Once you have a prepared a draft, these five tips won’t take more than 10 minutes for you to go through and ensure the recruiter receives a winning resume.



Topics: IT Jobs, resume tips

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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