How to Get Noticed by a Recruiter

Recruiters have direct connections to hiring managers and often don't get paid unless they find the right candidate for a job. That means recruiters can be a key ally in your job search process. But how do you start working with a recruiter? While some of them post job openings, many do not. They prefer to search job boards for qualified candidates and reach out to those candidates that match the job openings.

This means the riddle of getting noticed by a recruiter is yours to solve. But how do you get noticed by a recruiter? The following three steps are key:

  1. Keywords. Recruiters will initially find your resume through keyword searches. Your resume must contain the keywords for hot skills within your industry. These keywords should appear multiple times in the resume to score better on search relevance algorithms.

  2. Certification. Certifications often serve as a way to demonstrate knowledge and competence in an area. Well known certifications such as PMP are often used in keyword searches. Lesser known certifications can help bolster your credentials in a hot skill such as Hadoop.

  3. Accomplishments. Your resume is found because of keywords. But the recruiter calls you because of your accomplishments. Ensure your resume answers the questions “Why should I hire you?” by listing quantifiable impacts you have had in each prior job. These accomplishments must show why you are better than the hundreds or thousands of other candidates with similar backgrounds.

Keywords

Keywords are key! That may seems like a bit obvious, but to many people it is not. Recruiters use keywords to search for resumes. Your resume is more likely to be found if those keywords appear multiple times in your resume. But how do you know what keywords are popular? The following word cloud shows the top 150 keywords used in resume searches on MilitaryHire in 2015.

top resume search keywords

This word cloud shows lots of management and supervision, logistics, maintenance, training and instruction, operations, and IT keywords. Most service members have one or more of these skills, so MilitaryHire is a good place for your resume to be found by recruiters searching for your skills.

Keep in mind, those are just the top 150. For the very curious, we have a similar word cloud with the top 500 keywords. This is a very large image. You'll want to view it on a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen so you can see the details. Don't worry if your keywords are not shown in the graphic. This is a small sampling of tens of thousands of keywords that are used to search for resumes on MilitaryHire.

Did you know that keywords in the title are even more valuable than keywords in the resume body? There are two reasons for this. First, search algorithms tend to weight the title as more important than the body. Second, the title is what convinces people to click through to your resume. It is critical you give your resume a good title.

Certifications

Certifications are another great way to get noticed by a recruiter. They provide an objective standard to demonstrate you do have the skills you claim. The particular certifications you will need for your field vary by field, but you should be able to find them with a few Google searches. I've talked about certifications in several prior articles on veteran transition. The short answer is, you must determine what certifications you need, make a plan to get them, and execute that plan.

Accomplishments

Keywords help your resume be found. The title helps ensure a click through to read your resume. Certifications provide support that you have the skills you claim, but accomplishments are what get you hired. It is critical that you communicate in your resume the impact of what you did. Don't just list duty assignments regardless of how difficult it was to land that assignment. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know what you did in that assignment to make your organization better. What did you do to ensure mission success?

When a recruiter of hiring manager reads your resume, the question they have is "Why Should I hire you?" Accomplishments are the way you answer that question. Accomplishments are how you show what impact they can expect you to have at the new organization.

As a hiring manager, I look for two things in a resume: the details of what you accomplished and the business or technical impact of those accomplishments. The details help me determine whether your skills are relevant to our situation. The impact helps me determine the amount of benefit my organization can expect from hiring you.

Veterans often feel that calling out accomplishments often feels like bragging. And veterans are team players and realize that many members of the team are responsible for success. So they are reluctant to claim credit. But the fact is, you do have accomplishments to be proud of. And you must communicate these to employers. The details of your accomplishments will be different for each person.

If you don't know how to identify your accomplishments, try asking yourself these questions:

  1. Describe a time you outperformed your peers. You don't have to have outperformed everyone. Top 10% is still great! Top 25% is not bad at all.

  2. Think of something that you improved. It might have been an area or process that was substandard when you arrived. What did you do to improve it?

  3. How have you led others to improve performance or achieve a goal?

  4. Describe a time your work was recognized for going above and beyond.

  5. Describe a time when you introduced a new and better way of doing something and what the results were.

Keywords, certifications, and accomplishments all work together to help you get noticed by a recruiter. Recruiters have direct connections to hiring managers and are highly motivated to find the right candidate for the position. Post your resume now, and you may attract the eye of the recruiter who helps you land your next job.

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