What Recruiters Want: Their Top 10 Tips for Job Seekers

ClearanceJobs recently asked recruiters to send in their top tips for cleared job seekers. From resumes and interviews to career networking, here was their best advice:

1. Mind your resume
You need a flawless resume. It’s hard to believe in this day and age of technology that I still see resumes with misspellings, formatting issues, and punctuation issues. A sloppy resume indicates a sloppy and careless performance. Take the extra time or spend the extra money to have your resume free of any errors. Otherwise, you’ll never get an interview. -James Zenyuh E.K. Fox & Associates Ltd.

2. Do your homework
The best advice that I can give to a candidate going on an interview is to research the company that you are meeting with. You don’t have to memorize the webpage but you should go in with a general idea of what the company does. You should also come to the interview with some thoughtful questions about the company, its structure, its culture, etc. Lastly, be yourself, in the end both you and the person conducting the interview will have a better experience if you are honest and upfront with what you can and cannot do. Best of luck! -Sandi Molettieri, Goodrich Corporation

3. First impressions are key – so is putting your phone on vibrate during an interview
Ringback tones are popular but sometimes they can be inappropriate. The song you pick may leave a bad first impression. – Andrea PinedaDelta Resources, Inc.

4. Don’t overstate your skills
Don’t misrepresent yourself on your resume. If you can’t speak intelligently about something, don’t list it. I had a candidate once, who had a particular technology listed on his resume. I wasn’t familiar with it, so I googled it and pulled up the definition on Wikipedia. When I asked the candidate about said technology, he proceeded to read the EXACT Wikipedia definition to me. He didn’t get the job! -Tracy Green – Integrity Management Consulting

Never inflate your resume; a recruiter can usually tell when something isn’t right. Being up front and honest from the beginning will lead to better rapport and unforeseen opportunities down the road. Integrity is everything. -David BraunIntecon

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Amelia Brunelle

While I definitely think all these turn out to be true, I do have a hard time with the intense ‘mind your resume’ advice here and the common ‘tailor your cover letter and resume to every job’ advice that is also common. When you’re applying to multiple jobs a week (sometimes a day) there is a point where the tailoring gets the best of the perfection. Anyone making a 100 versions of a document is bound to make an error here or there (margin off on a date, typo, font not italicized in one spot etc) and friends/family certainly don’t have time to edit or proof read each and every version for errors.

Anyone have any thoughts on where one should fall in that customization v. perfection continuum?

Vanessa Vogel

I am going in for an interview in a couple hours. Thanks for the info! I liked the fifth point that says, “keep the focus on them, not on you.” People go into an interview ready to talk about themselves because after all, they are the ones getting interviewed for the job. But by focusing on the interviewer and their needs, they will want to focus in on you. I’ll be sure to put my phone on vibrate!

Lindy Kyzer

@Amelia – You have a good point. I think people need to focus on one GREAT resume, focusing on your key skills/ideal position. Have anyone possible proofread it or even consider a professional resume review/career counselor. Then, tweak cover letters and resume details for positions based on a great foundation. As a person who types really fast….and has made a few mistakes in written communication, 😉 I think recruiters will forgive a minor error if it’s in the midst of a great overall package. If there are several glaring and obvious errors, not so much. Also, prioritize your job search – spend more time on the positions you’re in love with, and less on others, and plan your days accordingly. I write my best in the AM, for instance, and try to save my most important work for then.

Amelia Brunelle

Lindy – I think you’re right. I am also a fast typer (see? had to edit this), but even so sometimes my brain gets ahead of myself and words are missed etc. I recently started a new job, and thought of this question during my recruiting process. After getting a call from a recruiter, I was looking back at my resume before my interview and noticed some obviously awkward wording from all my resume reworking. I think I’d blended two sentences and gotten something strange grammatically. However,I still got the job. So either people didn’t read it too too carefully (or nitpick it) or they forgave me due to content. But it did make me wonder. I’m usually a huge edit-edit-edit stickler and often blamed a cover letter typo or missed word on why I didn’t get a call. Perhaps, though, content really can win the day. That’s not to say ‘be lazy,’ but just not to totally kick yourself if you miss a bullet or margin etc. in your resume submitting stupor.


I’m actually surprised that people would leave their phone on during an interview. I would turn it off completely, as my focus should be only on the interview. It would give me a bad impression if someone I was interviewing had their phone ring.

Robin Sweet

Amelia – I would encourage you to evaluate the last group of jobs you applied for to see how they could categorized. For example, I would see myself applying for three groups of jobs (public admin, public relations, and writing/journalism) should I be in the market right now. I would have three resumes that focused on my skills in these areas. Then the cover letter further customizes your application.

When I started at my current employer, my hiring manager told me it was my letter that intrigued him and my resume showed my skills match to the position. He would bring up material from my letter (in a positive frame) several more times before his retirement.