Who's Reading Your Resume?

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Who's Reading Your Resume?

By: Linda Matias

It seems that everyone is an expert when it comes to resume writing. If you show your resume to ten different people, you will get ten totally different opinions. What is a job seeker to do when there are so many conflicting ideas when it comes to resume etiquette? Who should you write the resume for? Computer software? The screener? The recruiter? The decision maker? The answer is yes to all four. Your resume needs to take into consideration the nuances of all potential readers, including computer software.

This is precisely the reason why most jobseekers are confused when it comes to writing their own resumes. Below is a rundown of all resume readers and how to appeal to them.


Most resumes today aren't read by human eyes, but rather a scanning system. This is how it works: a clerk at the hiring organization receives resumes and his/her job is to scan them into the computer. When a position becomes available, the clerk goes into the computer system and keys in buzzwords. The resumes that are retrieved by the computer are the candidates that are called in for interviews.

How to appeal to computer software: Your resume should be keyword-rich. This will increase the chances your resume will be retrieved.


Recruiters search for candidates who meet specific requirements their client (the hiring organization) sets forth. Although the recruiter works for the hiring organization, the reality is that he or she wants to close the deal and will go to bat for you if you meet or exceed the requirements.

The advantage of teaming with a recruiter is that he or she will be able to provide you with insider information. In some cases, they will know specific interview questions you can expect. This type of information is invaluable.

How to appeal to recruiters: If a recruiter has a specific job in mind for you and makes resume recommendations, listen to and follow their suggestions. Once a recruiter is satisfied with your resume, he or she will submit it and act as your voice and job search partner.


A screener is someone who doesn't have a full understanding of the inner workings of the position. They work from a checklist of requirements that have been provided by the decision maker and the job description at hand. Screeners won't have much room to negotiate and will only approve you to the next stage if you meet the criteria set by the hiring manager.

How to appeal to screeners: If you know you are going to deal with a screener, study job descriptions and draw parallels from your experience. You must connect all the dots for them since they don't have a basis for making assumptions regarding your qualifications.


Decision makers have the most flexibility when it comes to experience and bending their own rules, because they are in control. This is the reason why most career professionals suggest you apply directly to decision makers.

How to appeal to decision makers: Base your resume on accomplishments. Decision makers want to see what you can bring to the table.

Resume writing is much more than being able to put sentences together, but it isn't impossible to incorporate the needs of all readers. And by integrating the requirements of all the resume reviewers, you will make the resume stronger.

About The Author

Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers' Association. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com or email her at linda@careerstrides.com.


Heather 19.02.2009. 08:40

Should an interview panel read the resumes of applicants prior to the interview? I have been told, twice in the past month, that it is not standard practice to read resumes prior to the interview. Supposedly, the panel wants you to sell yourself to them. Personally, I think it is extremely rude not to read an applicants resume prior to the interview. I doubt any modest, intelligent person expects to have go on a brag fest to get a job. What do you think?


Admin 19.02.2009. 08:40

It stops them from developing an opinion of the person before they show up. Put it this way i could fill out an application perfectly for "Ralph Barks" to the point they WANT to hire him - but when my dog shows up for the interview i doubt they will actually employ him


Taxi Driver 28.07.2009. 20:41

What is the best software program to make a resume? I was reading resume making tips and hints online and someone wrote that I need to be careful about what I use to make my resume because sometimes what looks good on one computer can look like jumbled crap on another. For example, they mentioned Microsoft Word was not a good choice....which is what I would have used. hah. I have never made a resume before so I need help. Anyone have any good recommendations? Thanks!

Taxi Driver

Admin 28.07.2009. 20:41

Regardless of what word process software you choose to create a resume: WordPerfect, Word, WordPad, PowerPoint or whatever, you should save the final resume as a "PDF" which prevents garbling of the resume text when viewed on different computers and web browsers.

Good luck!


jillteer@sbcglobal.net 07.03.2010. 03:40

What draws you to a particular resume? For those who read resumes: I have heard conflicting advice about what to include and exclude on a resume. Do you like or dislike: career goals, bold type, graphics, etc? What's your preference? What makes a resume stand out enough so that you give it more than a cursory glance?


Admin 07.03.2010. 03:40

Duration at each job, positions of increasing responsibility and specific metrics of achievement stand out for me. Also professional certifications and top schools for Bachelors and Master's degrees.


Aaron 28.01.2013. 06:31

how do you know if a company is a scam or not when they email you from reading your resume? If you get an email from a company saying they read your resume on monster or career builder jobs. & they give you a contact link to their website how do you know if its a real job and not a scam?


Admin 28.01.2013. 06:31

Always look up the company in the yellow pages or online and call the REAL number listed with directory assistance, and ask to speak to HR to verify they are recruiting and did contact you. You can say that you've been the victim of scammers using a real company's name before so before you send any additional information you wanted to make sure they are the ones who contacted you and that the email address is one of their corporate addresses


Rikitikitavi 18.07.2008. 20:15

How thorough does a perspective employer check someone's job history on a resume? Non govt. job.
I have a good resume but I'm thinking about making it look a little better. Nothing like "I cured cancer" or anything like that. Maybe just embellish my salary history a little or making my job performance seem better than what it was. ( I have a great track record but I'm reading resumes that state things like "I've increased sales by 15%.) Things of that nature.
My current employer said he will help me out, but what about previous employers? Are they contacted?


Admin 18.07.2008. 20:15

Don't make things up! You will be asked about such things directly. But you do embellish your achievements.

Speak up about your successes, and toot your own horn within limits. You are presenting an advertisment about yourself.


roxiecat4200 11.04.2007. 15:40

Can anyone recommend a great resume writing service? I need a proven resume writing service, one that has a great reputation. I have read resumes from some services and thought I could write better then that.
If you have personal experience with a service and are confident in their abilities please let me know.
Thanks in advance.


Admin 11.04.2007. 15:40

I got my resume written by monster.com resume writing services, and they did a fabolous job!


ashez2ashes 17.07.2012. 15:57

Should you have gaps in your resume? I was reading resume advice and I'm confused. They usually say only put only jobs you've had that would be relevant to the job you are applying for. But they also say that gaps in employment are red flags to employers. These two statements contradict each other! What if you had to have crappy jobs during college or between good jobs so you could pay your bills? Is it better to put down those crappy jobs or hope the employer doesn't assume some dark past because of the gaps?
By crappy jobs I mean K-Mart and fast food.


Admin 17.07.2012. 15:57

No offense to those who gave that resume advice, but it's bad advice to put only the jobs that you believe might be relevant to the job you're applying for.

For one thing, you would have to create a completely customized resume for every job you apply for. I don't mind that idea if someone is willing to put in the work, but is it realistic? A customized introductory letter is probably the best way to go from that perspective.

Most jobs have many facets that might not be apparent before you start working there. A seemingly unrelated job might be something the person hiring did in the past, or it might indicate experience in an area that is unstated. Even for unrelated jobs, when I've reviewing a resume I might find something that's fascinating, or that I'm curious about. It's a good conversation starter.

If you have a job that just doesn't look good, that's a different story.

An employment gap is considered, but it's considered third of fourth in line. What positions has the applicant held? Did the applicant advance in the companyies How long has the applicant worked for those companies? Last are the employment gaps.


Michael L 17.12.2006. 07:04

How can I be better at recruiting? I work as a IT Recruiter and my job is to bring in IT consultants. What I do daily is make cold calls, read resumes, and interview. It is my job to get these consultants "approved by my manager" so I am their primary contact, and I am the only one to place them on a project.

Here are the problems I have:
#1: I haven't a clue about IT at all!! Most of the skills they talk about are so foreign!
#2: As a recruiter (and having never been one before) I find it hard to get results when asking for referrals (or who they know that I could talk to). I usually ask "Who do you know that could help me out with this project?" and I get "I'm sorry, nobody" (am I asking the wrong way?)
#3: THIS IS A BIG ONE: I went into this job motivated by money. This job will pay a TON in comission if I get consultants on projects. After having been there 3 months, and no one on a project (and this is normal, the company says) It is very hard to stay motivated by money if I don't see it.

Any tips?Anyone?

Michael L

Admin 17.12.2006. 07:04

Welcome to the crazy world of recruiting. Do not despair, yes you can make money, and yes you can do it without being an expert in the field. yes it is frustrating, and yes it might be awhile before you make real money. The average newbie takes about a year to learn the ropes. The majority of IT recruiters out there are not technical, they just know where to go to find the people.

1. Tech knowledge-don't know something, my Dad always told me to look it up! try this site

plus ask one of the people you are calling they love to talk about their stuff...

phrase it like this

"Mr Candidate, I am unfamiliar with this term, can you give a an elementary explanation on what it is?"

2. The market is very competitive right now, people have a lot of choices now. How you ask things, and what you do with the response can affect your results.

example- Try new ways of asking for referalls

Do you have a technical twin?
who do you know that I should network with?
Whose opinion do you respect in this field? (Java, Cobol etc..)

Offer them something...
..the trick is to get someting from each call..

"Mr. Candidate, I know you are not actively looking, but thing smay change. The worst time to look for a doctor is after you have had heart attack. I would love the opportunity to touch base with you in say three months and see how you are doing?" (no one ever turns this down)

another way to get info

"Mr Candidate, where do you go to network with other developers online?

my little script sounds corny, so I encourage you to develop your own style and dialogue, don't be afaraid to say the sam ething over and over..you have to be comfortable and if you call someone ..an dyou are timid you will not get far..you will sound like a telemarketer. (Small trick, stand up when you call someone)

never lie, and don't be afraid to ask for help..in fact most people will help you if you ask..plus email is very good for referrals because it allows people to forward it. (Referrals are where you will make the most money)

hope this helps!


fisf37 02.05.2008. 00:57

What is the best way to write a resume? What do employers look for when they read a resume, what should I mention. Should it be long or precise.


Admin 02.05.2008. 00:57

the last thing i want to do is read a long resume. be short but point out what you shined in. if you handled special projects,if you managed people,awarded contracts,etc. mention any other skills you may have with equipment and computer programs.


jamie27750 28.07.2008. 00:11

Why do you need to submit an application when all the information is on the resume? Seems like it is so redundant. Also, employers complain about having to read long resumes, why do they need an application when all the information is, or should be on the resume?


Admin 28.07.2008. 00:11

Generally the application is providing specific details about the candidate that would be hard or inconvenient for the hiring company to parse out of the resume. Often, it is the application that will be filed by the Human Resources (HR) department for proof that you met the requirements for a position and will have your signature. This is useful if it turns out that the application was less than truthful and can be used to terminate an employee.

Hope this helps!


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