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A Key to the First Door (resume writing that gets you past front line recruiters)

office work, virtual assistant, office assistant

Have you ever noticed how often you submit your resume to the popular job search engines like Indeed? If you’re submitting your resume and hearing nothing at all at an alarming rate. If you’ve gone through college and are still working that part-time job because somehow recruiters aren’t seeing your skills – YOU MUST READ THIS POST!

OK – we’ve cleared the air. I can tell you the secret. I can! I know the secret – wanna know how? I am that front-line recruiter. As a virtual assistant (by the way a very cool job), one of my tasks is to read through resumes for a high-end engineering company in Canada. Guess what? Most of you suck at writing resumes.

Read on to find out the 5 things you need to do to get through the first door. I’ll tell you exactly what I’m looking for to get you past me and into that interview room. Oh, and remember I (and everyone like me) am very very picky.

1. READ the posting very carefully.

I am going to say it again because you probably didn’t read it the first time. READ THE POSTING VERY CAREFULLY. Got it. Read it again. I’m serious about this because of so many of the resumes I have received, I can tell, you didn’t read the posting. If you don’t qualify – don’t bother. It’s as simple as that. If you know you don’t qualify, rest assured that I will too.

2. Write down key words from the posting

I know it sounds childish, but think about it. I once had to sit down in a busy mall and read through over 150 resumes. All front-line recruiters are in the same pickle barrel. You must read carefully, but the truth is we’re skimming my friend. We’re looking quickly for a few key words and qualifications and if they aren’t in your resume, off you go to the deleted pile.


For the sanity of all recruiters everywhere – use those key words! If the posting requires experience in a specific field or area of expertise. By all means, brag to me. Give me all that you’ve got on that specific topic. It’s great that you’re a barista at Java Joe’s but truly, I don’t care. If I’m looking for acronyms like Auto CAD or CNC or PSW or CPR or CIMS (you get the picture), and if you have experience with them USE THEM. Please use them so that I know at a glance that you should move on to phase 2, the interview.

4. Start with what I care about

Again, good for you Java Joe barista, but I don’t care. I’d like your name, your phone number and your address right there at the very top. Your experience and qualifications go right there beneath your name. If I have been charged with the task of finding an engineer, I care about your engineering experience and nothing else. The same goes for any job and any front-line recruiter. If you have the skills and experience, and some of you have a lot of it, start with that. Tell me right away why I like you as the person of choice and give me the details and be specific.


Worse than not using the key words, and a certain ticket straight to the deleted pile, is to make your resume colourful and full of images. Remember – 150 resumes in a busy mall. I have no desire to sift through all those colours and images. I want in black and white easy to read font why you are the ultimate person for the job.

Many of you make the mistake of thinking that you are sending your resume to the hiring manager or better yet the owner. Not even close. You are sending it to a working schmuck like myself and I really don’t have time for your nonsense. I weed out “the crazies” and send the rest over for interviews.

Now write your resume and use this check list:

  • Have I read the posting at least twice?

  • Have I written the key words and qualifications in my resume?

  • Is my most important and relevant information at the top of the resume (the stuff that matches the posting)?

  • Is my resume written clearly, in black and white and in a nice normal font (Calibri or Arial works just fine)?

So, to sum it up – don’t waste my time. Tell me who you are and be specific as to why you should get the interview. For more help, click here to go to our contact page and request some free information on our resume review service.

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