Who's Reading Your Resume?

It seems that everyone is an expert when it comes to resume writing. If you show your resume to ten different people, you will get ten totally different opinions. What is a job seeker to do when there are so many conflicting ideas when it comes to resume etiquette? Who should you write the resume for? Computer software? The screener? The recruiter? The decision maker? The answer is yes to all four. Your resume needs to take into consideration the nuances of all potential readers, including computer software.

 This is precisely the reason why most job seekers are confused when it comes to writing their own resumes. Below is a rundown of all resume readers and how to appeal to them.


Most resumes today aren’t read by human eyes, but rather a scanning system. This is how it works: a clerk at the hiring organization receives resumes and his/her job is to scan them into the computer. When a position becomes available, the clerk goes into the computer system and keys in buzzwords. The resumes that are retrieved by the computer are the candidates that are called in for interviews.
How to appeal to computer software: Your resume should be keyword-rich. This will increase the chances your resume will be retrieved.


Recruiters search for candidates who meet specific requirements their client (the hiring organization) sets forth. Although the recruiter works for the hiring organization, the reality is that he or she wants to close the deal and will go to bat for you if you meet or exceed the requirements.

The advantage of teaming with a recruiter is that he or she will be able to provide you with insider information. In some cases, they will know specific interview questions you can expect. This type of information is invaluable.

How to appeal to recruiters: If a recruiter has a specific job in mind for you and makes resume recommendations, listen to and follow their suggestions. Once a recruiter is satisfied with your resume, he or she will submit it and act as your voice and job search partner.


A screener is someone who doesn’t have a full understanding of the inner workings of the position. They work from a checklist of requirements that have been provided by the decision maker and the job description at hand. Screeners won’t have much room to negotiate and will only approve you to the next stage if you meet the criteria set by the hiring manager.

How to appeal to screeners: If you know you are going to deal with a screener, study job descriptions and draw parallels from your experience. You must connect all the dots for them since they don’t have a basis for making assumptions regarding your qualifications.


Decision makers have the most flexibility when it comes to experience and bending their own rules, because they are in control. This is the reason why most career professionals suggest you apply directly to decision makers.

How to appeal to decision makers: Base your resume on accomplishments. Decision makers want to see what you can bring to the table.

Resume writing is much more than being able to put sentences together, but it isn’t impossible to incorporate the needs of all readers. And by integrating the requirements of all the resume reviewers, you will make the resume stronger.

by Linda Matias
Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers’ Association. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com.

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