How to write a recruiter-friendly resume

Writing a perfect resume is a fine art

We do our best to find the right balance between the most descriptive words that justly portray our experience and keeping it generic in order not to get disqualified by overly picky recruiters / HR. In fact, an eye tracking study has showed that on average, recruiters spend around seven seconds looking at a candidate’s CV. So how do you squeeze and dumb down 10+ years worth of experience working in various technologies into a 7 second attention span you may ask?


One option of course would be to find a better recruiter, one that could take the time to understand your profile and identify common grounds with their list of job openings or even proactively think of future openings on your behalf (mind blown, I know). However, that’s not always an option as sometimes you will be working directly with a Talent Acquisition specialist / HR of a company you’re applying to. Here’s our guide on getting shortlisted with such little time to make an impression.

Keep the CV 7 seconds short -AND- 2 minutes long

Most recruiters say 2-3 pages is all it should be, but it all depends on how much relevant information you have to share. The problem with the 2-3 pages approach is that you’ll be trying to please two different audiences with the same CV – the recruiter AND the hiring manager. While recruiters attention span is usually not the greatest, HMs love a detailed resume they could dig into prior to committing to an interview with a candidate.

Why not have two versions of your resume?

With a disclaimer placed in each version’s header stating the abbreviation / detailed version is available upon request. It might sound tedious, but it WILL save you time.

For the abbreviated version, do your best to ‘trim the fat’ with jeopardizing your experience and knowledge. Include things like technologies you’ve recently (as in still remember) worked with such as platforms, frameworks, programming languages. Mention a few words (no more than two lines per project) about the projects you’ve worked on for every employer, companies you were employed by, start and end dates. Make sure you keep it slim!

For the detailed version of your resume – be specific. Elaborate on the projects (4-5 lines per project or more if you have less projects / experience under the belt), the technologies, etc. You don’t need to add all of your qualifications here either, be sure you focus on the relevant ones (your high school diploma isn’t one of them). This is also the version where you want to double down on your transferrable skills. As long as you portray your willingness to learn and adaptability, smart hiring managers won’t usually care whether you’ve worked with Java 7 or Java 8, CTRL+F will 😉

“smart hiring managers won’t usually care whether you’ve worked with Java 7 or Java 8”

Bait the hook to suit the fish

In a perfect recruiter and hiring manager world, you would always tailor your resume to include all relevant experience for each and every position. Oh and most recruiters would spend more than a grand total of 7 seconds before ‘swiping left’ if CTRL+F fails. Yes, fast paced world hits us all differently.

The beautiful thing about tech industry, is that you probably know what kind of roles you’ll be applying for and what kind of requirements they will most likely have, if you don’t – contact us, really, we’ll help!

Seeing that you have a specific type of position in mind, use your CV to match up with the most common job specifications required for the role you want to be in.

Simple is Pretty, Logical

Choose an easy-to-read structure, make use of white space and headings, highlight the important points by using bullet points (everyone loves these I promise). Use a logical order and stick to it, if you decide the format should be Company Name, Start / End Date, Project, Technologies – stick to this format throughout every experience you list.

If you happen to be a junior or even an entry level programmer that’s just breaking into the job market, you most likely don’t have any real world experience. Focus and really elaborate on your personal projects, get active on GitHub, grind coding challenge websites to be and feel prepared, list things you’re currently learning etc. Sadly, previous non-IT jobs don’t really matter much as they won’t speak about how fast you can grasp IT concepts.

Related: How to interview as a software developer

The footer of your resume likely needs work

Are you an excellent team player that’s also adaptable to be efficient on your own? Like reading and sports?! COOKING? You get the gist.

It’s not that these clichés are oh-so annoying and will stand in-between your dream job and yourself, they’re just a waste of space and I promise you, they never fit into anyone’s 7 second attention span. Here’s a suggestion, why not use the precious resume space we just saved and use it to mention how you refactored some code to be X% more efficient that saved the company Y$ on system resources?

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