Does Your Resume Say You Want to Be Friends?

Written by Melissa Anzman

Like it or not, recruiters are the gatekeepers to helping you get your foot in the door at any company. But recruiters remain these mystical creatures – often referred to as evil, idiots, and other unkind words that I refuse to repeat.

It’s not an easy job – part sales, part judge and jury, and part developing the pipeline of talent. But more than anything, recruiters are people too. I know, you forgot that for a minute when they rejected your resume. Understanding how we (gasp – did I just identify myself with the “recruiting team?”) see you through your resume, will help you get through the gate.

The Recruiting Goal

We are not here to help you specifically, get a job. The only thing that matters to us, is how you reflect back on us.

Yep, each candidate that we pass through to the next round is a reflection of our own “talent” in finding the best candidate for the role.

And let me tell you – we are insecure about that. Can you imagine having the responsibility of picking through thousands of qualified candidates and deciding who is worthy of a chance and who isn’t? Or worse, missing a gem in the pile of applicants. Would you want to be at the other end of this commentary “Blueberry Company passed on him – can you believe that? What idiots?”

Our only goal is to send people to the next round who boost our own credibility and skill-set within the company. That’s it. If you do not show me how you support this mission with your resume and online application, I won’t even take a chance on you. I don’t have time to – there is a pile of a hundred other people who, at least on paper, want to make me look good to my boss.

Judge and Jury

You have probably suspected it for some time, but we do judge your resume. In fact, it is a constant, ongoing conversation to help us pass the time and sort through candidates. And we are not easy with the criticisms.

I compare myself to you through your resume. Are you someone I would want to claim as my colleague? If you are applying for a position above mine in level, are you good enough for me to look up to? If you trying to be my peer, are you a threat? Would I stand behind you and your resume if my manager questioned my reasoning?

When you make a grammatical error, I cringe. Is it the end of the world? No. But I refuse, yes – refuse, to believe that we are the same caliber of talent if you are careless enough to make that kind of error.

If you have an objective in your resume, especially if it doesn’t match up with the true objective of the position, I think that you are clueless – not up with current trends, haven’t looked for a job in a long time, not willing to change. How would that quality fit into my company’s culture? It doesn’t – so you are passed over.

When reviewing your work history:

  • I’m trying to figure out what you’ve done – how your career has progressed. If you present your resume in a format that isn’t chronological, my first thought is… what are you hiding?
  • Recapping your previous job descriptions instead of showing me what you delivered and the scale in which you delivered it… you are a mediocre employee.
  • If I have never heard of any of the companies you have worked at, and you do not tell me what types of companies they are… I think you made them up.

These are just a few examples. To be honest, the thing I say more than anything else when looking at resumes is… SO WHAT? Why do I care that you did X, Y, or Z? After three “so what’s” – I move on to the next resume.

Resume Revamp Y’all

Your resume is your first opportunity to show recruiters why you would be an awesome employee. And that’s what most people forget. We are looking for people who make us look good – whether that be as a colleague, peer, or boss.

I don’t want to stand behind someone who I wouldn’t hire for my own team.

The way you approach your resume, needs to change. It shouldn’t be just a professional summary of the actions you have gone through during your career. But it needs to SHOUT why I would want you as a colleague. Why I would be happy to claim you on my team. Why I would feel comfortable sticking my neck out for you.

Show me why we would be friends. I hate to admit it, but that’s all that recruiters are looking for. People who they would want to associate with. High performers. Smart, intelligent workers. Accomplishers. Likeable delivers. Easy to stand behind and defend to hiring managers.

Your resume needs to tell me all of those things so I can’t roll my eyes at you and say within three seconds, why you are not qualified for the job.

For most jobs, you can be trained – stop emphasizing why having the same job title for the past 10 years is enough of a reason for me to consider you for my position with that title. Show me why you’d be an impressive employee. What you would actually bring to the table at my company. And most important, how we can be friends. 


About Melissa

melissa anzmanMelissa Anzman is the creator of Loosen Your White Collar where she helps people get clarity, get ahead, and love their job. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job, and is currently working with people who are looking to Get Promoted in 2013. Follow her @MellyMelAnz.

  • http://twitter.com/FrugalBeautiful Shannyn

    Melissa, you are brilliant, as always. I feel like you gave my resume the “She’s All That”makeover it so desperately needed…it finally conveys the right message to potential employers! LOVED your advice!

    • melissalywc

      Thanks @twitter-241807950:disqus for the kind words. It was wicked fun working with you on the resume “makeover.” Thanks for the continued support!

  • http://www.honestattraction.com/ Courtney Lebedzinski

    Haven’t looked at my resume in a while, but I’m going to look at it today to see how friend-worthy it is! Excellent, fresh advice! Thanks, Melissa.

    • melissalywc

      Courtney – It’s always good to continuously check-in with your resume “status” and ensure it’s fresh and applicable. I hope yours reads like my friend. :) Thanks for the kind words!

  • Becki

    What’s the best way to show friend worthiness? I mean, where? People like me. I have friends. But! My resume is… dry.

    • melissalywc

      It’s more of the word-choice and how you convey your experience. Think: deliverables and charisma, wrapped up in one for each bullet point. Show how you’re a superstar, and say it in a way that engages me to read on.

  • Chrs

    I’ve been looking for a job for a while now, so I appreciate good advice. I do have one nitpick, though: although you can be trained for most any job, the majority of job listings are looking for applicants who need minimal training. For example, I saw one set of minimum qualifications that included knowing how to work a phone with multiple lines–a skill that could be taught in under five minutes.

    • melissalywc

      That’s definitely true – skills and experiences are often requested/required. My rule of thumb is apply to the job if you meet 70% or more of the job description, and be sure you update your resume to show off the 70% that you do have!

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