What Executive Recruiters Look For On A Resume

How do executive recruiters absorb a resume when they receive one? What do executive recruiters look for on a resume to determine whether to follow up?

We asked several executive recruiters what they look for on a resume for senior to leadership level opportunities and summarized their quotes below. Note: Most recruiters mentioned that they look at and analyze all of these areas in about 30 – 60 seconds.

Most recent role
I’m generally trying to figure out what this person’s current status is and why they might even be interested in a new role. Are they laid off? Did they get fired? Have they only been in their role for a few months? Is their most recent experience relevant to the position for which I’m hiring? – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

What were you actually doing (‘software engineer’ is a generic title with a huge variance of responsibilities – be specific about what that meant for you). Who were you actually working with (include details of team size, how your team fit into the org structure). Why was the work important to the company (was this the company’s core product you were asked to work on, or some other piece to enable things to happen)? – Andy Barton, Former Quora recruiter; Facebook recruiter for 4+ years.

“What does their most recent leadership role say about their purpose and values? Is the most recent role consistent with what is required to be driven at your organization?” – Brett Farmiloe, Nonprofit Executive Recruiter

Company recognition
“Not even gonna lie. I am a company snob. It’s not even that I think certain companies are better than others (although some are). It’s purely a matter of how quickly can I assign a frame of reference. This is often more difficult to do when a candidate has only worked for obscure companies I’ve never heard of. When I can’t assign company recognition, it just means I have to read the resume a little deeper, which usually isn’t an issue, unless it’s poorly formatted and wrought with spelling errors in which case…you lost my interest.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“The better question to ask is what gets a look of over 6 seconds – what puts you in the upper 50%? Company worked for – they have an idea in their head, if it matches, you match. If not, you don’t. Unless you have a time machine your fate is sealed here.” – Chad Porter, Co Founder of Invisume

“Employer name near the top of the resume. If I have to scroll through education, lists of SEO-happy buzzwords and descriptions of what skills you think you have, It’s painful. Recruiters want to know within fractions of a second who you work for, as they usually know the industry they are recruiting in and can garner a lot from that data point.” – Michael Wright, Recruiter

Overall experience
“Is there a career progression? Do they have increasing levels of responsibility? Do the titles make sense? Do the responsibilities listed therein match what I’m looking for.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“Why your job matters to who you work for, what you achieved for them, rather than the day to day duties, we can usually guess those from your title. Data points. And not just “increased by 800%” either, increased something from X to Z is more meaningful.” – Michael Wright, Recruiter

“What you studied, and what the progression of your career was. Though, I don’t mind hiring you for a job that is unrelated to what you studied, as long as it’s your passion, and you self taught yourself a whole bunch.” – Nada Aldahleh, Sandglaz CEO and Co-Founder

Gaps
“I don’t mind gaps so long as there’s a sufficient explanation. Oh you took 3 years off to raise your children? Fine by me, and might I add, I bow down. You tried your hand at starting your own company and failed miserably? Very impressive! Gap sufficiently explained. Whatever it is, just say it. It’s the absence of an explanation that makes me wonder.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“Longevity / gaps. Are you “in” or gun for hire?” – Chad Porter, Co Founder of Invisume

Keyword search
“Do they have the specific experience for the role I’m hiring for? I Command + F the crap out of resumes. On any given day I’m searching for things like Ruby on Rails, Mule, Business Intelligence, MBA, Consulting, POS, Cisco, Javascript, and seriously, anything you can think of.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“Due to rising competition in today’s job market, 90% of companies (larger than 1,000 employees) use Application Tracking Systems in order to help them search for qualified candidates from a large pool of applicants. ATS (Google “Applicant Tracking System”) help employers by analyzing applicants’ resumes and identifying those whose content match given sets of keywords.

Furthermore, humans (recruiters) scan for keywords in their 10 second reviews also to make a judgement if you are a “match” or not. How else can anyone go through a large pile of resumes in minutes?” – James Hu, Founder & CEO of Jobscan

Personal web presence
“This includes personal domains, Twitter handle, GitHub contributions, dribbble account or anything a candidate has chosen to list. 2 out of 3 times, I almost always click through to a candidate’s website or twitter account. It’s one of my favorite parts of recruiting. Random aside: I care less about what people say on Twitter and more about who is following you and who you follow. So much insight gained by seeing who values your thoughts.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“Hyperlinks. To work you’ve done, if relevant, to communities you participate in and add value to, to Twitter, etc” – Michael Wright, Recruiter

General logistics
“Location, Eligibility to work in the US.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

Overall organization
“This includes spelling, grammar, ease of use, ability to clearly present ideas.” – Ambra Benjamin, Recruiter @ Facebook

“Lose those adjectives. You may think you are a visionary, creative, analytical problem solver but maybe only your mum would agree, it’s useless.” – Michael Wright, Recruiter

What do you think executive recruiters look for on a resume? Contact us to let us know and we’ll consider adding your insight into the post!

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that helps nonprofits and social enterprises find exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.