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The First Thing Headhunters Look at On Your Resume

Once you’re at the stage where headhunters have pulled your resume from the stack of other job seekers, you have mere seconds to captivate their attention. You have to – corporate headhunters aren’t looking for new graduates or people with underwhelming job titles. They’re searching for leaders. Companies are paying recruiters top dollar to find the best people for leadership and executive roles.

magnifying glass viewing a resume with the words "So, what does a recruiter look for in a RESUME?"

That’s the number one reason c-suite executives find premier resume writing professionals; to stand out from the thousands of other candidates.

An executive resume service will know precisely what a headhunter wants to see on your resume. And if you ask them, they’ll tell you the first thing that a headhunter looks at when they scan the document you send over to them.

It’s all About Your Current Role

The very first thing that a headhunter looks at is your current role.

That may seem like the most obvious answer in the world, but it’s also true, at least according to Jan Bernhart. A specialist in searching for leaders in the tech and product sectors, Bernhart says it’s natural for a headhunter to look at your current role first for a simple reason:

They want to get a sense of who you are and what you’re doing right now.

What you’ve done in the past – be it previous roles or your education – all exist to provide context for how you’ve gotten into the role you’re in right now. What’s more, a headhunter is going to look at that current role for the sake of alignment with the role for which they need to find a candidate.

Do the skills you use in your current role apply to the new role? Could you slot into the working structure and culture of the company for which they’re recruiting? These are key questions a headhunter needs to ask, with what you write about your current role on your resume providing the crucial answers.

resume with the words "Recruiters #1 Resume Advice - Keyword Optimize Your Resume!"

So…How Should You Write About Your Current Role?

With your current role being the star of the show for a headhunter, you need to know how to write about it in a way that captures attention and makes you look like a great pick. That’s where these tips come in – three ideas that help you emphasize what makes you special right now.

Tip 1 – It’s Not All About Your Title

There’s a pervading myth among job hunters that their title is critical to recruiters. That’s emphasized by HRM – the news outlet for The Australian HR Institute – which points out that 47% of people still believe that their job title is “very important.” Perhaps that emphasis on titles is the reason why 72% of employees under the age of 34 are so willing to accept promotions that come with a title change but don’t offer a bump in pay.

If you fall into that category, then there’s good news:

Your title doesn’t matter nearly as much as the experience you’ve gained in your role and how that experience – along with your skills – applies to the position for which they’re headhunting.

So, where’s the tip?

It’s twofold.

If you don’t think you have the most enticing job title in the world, then don’t worry. Emphasizing what you do and the experience you’ve gained overcomes any negative connotations that might come with your current title. As for those who have a great title, the tip is simple – don’t rely on your title alone to get the job. A good headhunter will always look beyond it to dig into the meat of what you do.

recruiter reviewing a resume with 1 man standing out with a light over his head

Tip 2 – Emphasize Your Core Responsibilities

Your core responsibilities are the highlights a headhunter is looking for when they read about your current role.

But it’s not enough to just list a handful of things that you do.

Quantification is key – show how your handling of that responsibility has led to a tangible benefit for your current employer.

For example, a sales executive could write that they’re responsible for new client acquisition. That’s a core responsibility that offers some insight into what you do, but it’s not enough to separate you from the other candidates a headhunter is considering.

A better way to write about this responsibility could be something like this:

“Developed a client acquisition strategy enabled a 42% growth in new acquisitions, along with a 22% increase in existing client retention.”

You’ve done two things with that statement. First, you’ve used quantifiable numbers to showcase how your strategies had a positive impact on your employer’s bottom line. A recruiter will see that and know immediately that a 42% increase in client acquisitions translates to more sales and more money – a key achievement for a sales executive. Second, you haven’t fallen into the trap of simply stating a responsibility without providing context.

Tip 3 – Discuss Your Current Company

It’s always safe to assume that a headhunter knows less about the company for which you work than you know.

So, educate them!

Discuss the service or product you work with – in simple language that avoids jargon – so the headhunter has a clear idea of how you need to apply the skills you define later in the resume. As with the title, you can never assume the company name alone is going to impress a headhunter.

For instance, let’s say you work for Coca-Cola. Everybody knows that company, so you may feel you don’t need to go into detail about it. And you’re right – you don’t need to talk about what Coca-Cola does on your resume.

You need to talk about what you do in the context of your work at Coca-Cola.

Talk about the specific department for which you work and the role it plays in helping the company deliver its services. You’ll showcase something about a major brand that the headhunter doesn’t know and – crucially – demonstrate your understanding of your existing company and what it wants to achieve.

Your Current Role Is Key

The biggest mistake you can make – in the eyes of a headhunter – is to deemphasize your current role. Just below that mistake is giving your current role the same weight and importance as roles you’ve worked in the past.

That’s now what a headhunter wants to see.

The best executive resume writing services in Denver will always emphasize what you’re doing right now because that information provides the best insight into who you are as an employee to a headhunter. So, the takeaway is simple – make the section on your current role the largest on your resume, with everything else providing context for how you perform in that role.

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