Recently I was a part of a group who was able to sit down and ask recruiters questions about what they want from students who are applying for jobs and internships. The following post is a list of those questions and some of the recruiters’ responses.
Is it important to have unrelated extra-curricular activities on a resume?
Recruiters aren’t just looking for a good student. They are looking for a well-rounded individual. Showing that you participate in other activities tells them a lot about you. Even interests can sometimes have a place on a resume. For example, if you live in Texas and you’re applying for a job in northern Minnesota the recruiter or employment manager is going to want to know why. Listing on your resume that skiing and hunting are some of your interests show the employer that you will fit in well with the northern Minnesota community. Volunteering is another major activity that probably isn’t directly related to the position, and it shows that you have good work ethic and values that may align well with the company’s vision. Clubs are another good source for showing off skills such as teamwork and communication. A recruiter would rather see a student with a 3.5 GPA and some extra curricular activities than a student with a 4.0 GPA who only went to class. So yes, even unrelated extra-curricular activities are important on a resume.
Is an objective necessary on a resume?
The general consensus among the recruiters was that objectives are “silly”. Most of the time they don’t even look at it. This makes a lot of sense if you are applying to a specific position and the employer already knows exactly what you’re looking for. Having said this, if you are just sending your resume to a human resources person via email they might not know what you are applying for. In this case, it may be worthwhile to include a short objective saying something like, “Seeking to obtain full-time employment related to mechanical engineering.” In general, the objective is still a subject that is debated among professionals. Most of the time including it on a resume is a matter of opinion.
What is your biggest pet peeve on a resume?
The first answer to this question was “big paragraphs of information”. Recruiters like to be able to skim resumes, and long paragraphs make it difficult to pull out the important information. A good way to avoid this is to break your sentences up into bullet points. Occasionally there will be employers who want you to have every detail possible on your resume, but more often than not bullet points are the way to go.
Another recruiter said how much she hates things like using color or putting your picture on the resume. These flashy/artistic choices may look neat, but they are typically seen as unprofessional. Unless you are some sort of art, theatre, or other creative major, you should keep the resume basic and in black ink.
What is your biggest pet peeve at a job fair?
All of the recruiters agreed that a poor introduction from a student is a huge pet peeve. If you walk up to a recruiter at a job fair and just stare at them or give them a bad handshake things tend to get awkward. Have a short introduction prepared and some questions to ask them. Keep the conversation flowing and relevant to the situation.
Another major pet peeve of recruiters was dressing inappropriately. Women should stay away from super high heels, low cut shirts, and short skirts. If you can’t walk in heels, don’t wear heels. Also, men should be conscientious of sweat. If you know that you sweat uncontrollably, then wear a black shirt. Regardless of the gender, make sure you dress nice, meaning no shorts or jeans.
Other advice from recruiters…
Recruiters are one of your biggest assets when applying for the job! A lot of people have the misconception that it’s you versus the recruiters. This is false. Recruiters are your advocates. If you make a legitimate connection with a recruiter they will go to the employment manager with your resume and say, “We like this person.” At a job fair it is appropriate to ask them if your resume looks good, what you should expect at an interview with their company, how should you dress for the interview, etc. Ask these important questions and you will stand out.
Something that would not be appropriate would be to ask the recruiter at the end of an interview is what you could have done better. The time to do this would be after you have been notified that you have not been offered the position.
In summary, it is important to remember that employers and recruiters are looking for a person, and not a robot. Be conversational and showcase a variety of skills. Hopefully this blog post has given you some insight into the mind of a recruiter.
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