What a Recruiter Sees When They Review Your Resume

Did you know that a recruiter scans a resume for one, maybe two minutes? That’s it. Hardly enough time to learn just how wonderful you are, but it’s all you are probably going to get.


It’s important that your resume is good. Not good, in fancy font or a picture or some weird formatting. Good in information about you. Information and details that tells them who you are, what your skills are and what you offer.


A few reminders: (you’re heard it all before but it never hurts to review)

  • Check your spelling, grammar and format (resumes with large gaps look messy).
  • Be sure your dates are easy to see and your jobs are in chronological order with your current/most recent position first.
  • A summary of qualifications with 2-3 well written bullets can be helpful to quickly see what you bring to the table.
  • Length – 2-3 page resume seems to be the average these days. You don’t have to squeeze it all on one page anymore. However, resume that are five or more pages might need some editing or formatting.
  • Another suggestion is to have more than one resume. Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants many times have worked in one or two specialties during their careers. A specialized/focused resume is a great way to highlight that experience. Each resume can concentrate on those specific skills and make it easier for the recruiter or manager to see that you fit their needs.


So many resumes, so little time.

Remember, recruiters look at hundreds of resumes in a week and they know what they need (skills, experience, etc.) If you make it hard to find on your resume; they will look elsewhere. A Recruiter is a company’s first line of defense. They are the ones who forward resumes to the hiring managers. So it’s vital that your resume gets their attention. And that your skills and experience are easy to review.



What do they look for when viewing a resume? 

  1. Your title (what you’re doing now) and where
  2. Your skill set – what are you trained for and what you do and most important how close your background matches their open position. So be sure to have a short paragraph, or better bullets describing some of the work you do daily.  If you’re a new graduate NP or PA, they check what type of clinical rotations you did during school, so be sure they’re listed.
  3. Job History – Stable work history? Job hopper? Do you have progression in title, responsibility?
  4. Certification and state license(s) – Do you have a current state license? Are you certified as a FNP, PNP, ACNP, PA-C, etc. New graduates should note the date of their certification exam if you have it.
  5. Where are you located – are you local or will you need to relocate?
  6. Education – They want to be sure you went to an accredited school and when you graduated.

What can cause a Recruiter to pause when reviewing a resume? (Doesn’t mean they’re not interested; just be ready to answer questions).

  1. Gaps – note if you went to school, volunteering, cared for a sick relative, were raising your kids or even if you traveled for a year.
  2. Short tenure at more than one job – have your response prepared to explain a short job. And don’t forget if you worked contract, locum or interim to add that next the title.

You made it pass the first brief scan of your resume, what’s next?

  1. A more in-depth review of your resume – skills, jobs, experience, etc.
  2. Education – be sure you list the school, dates and type of degree you received.
  3. Your online footprint – There is a good chance they’ll check out your online presence at some point to learn more about you – what do you like to do, volunteer, sports, etc. And if you haven’t – clean up and get rid of anything (pictures, quotes, etc.) that might not be seen as professional.

If they feel you meet enough of the qualifications for the job, your resume is forwarded to the hiring or department manager for review. This is the ultimate goal; get off the desk of the recruiter and in the hands of the decision maker.

A well written resume with real skills, accomplishments and experience will you get more than a passing glance.

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