As a professional recruiter, I know what most people in my industry (and our clients), often look for when when evaluating a candidate or a resume. Here are five factors that can make or break your chances at landing the job.

    • Company loyalty (don’t be a “jumper”)

In my experience, this is the number one factor that clients look for. Typically a minimum of three years in each company that you have worked for is best, however even longer is better.  Why? This speaks volumes about you in one quick fact – you are loyal to your company, you are likely good at what you do, and you are probably a likable person, and so you are the ideal candidate. Most clients and therefore recruiters alike will avoid job hoppers that move from company to company after a year or so –you may not love your job, but sometimes it’s better to stick it out for a while if you can before making your next career move.

    • A Specialization or Developed Skill Set  (aka EXPERIENCE)

Unfortunately recruiters typically work with experienced, senior and/or specialized candidates simply because they are difficult for clients to find and will pay them for this type of top talent. That being said, if you are just starting out or it’s early in your career, talking with a recruiter can always help give you direction in your search or advice in the industry you are trying to break into. Be proactive and act as your own recruiter. Promote yourself by meeting as many people as you can and getting your resume out there. Your go-getting attitude is sure to impress a company that is hiring, and may give you the break you were looking for.

    • Canadian/Industry Relevant Experience

This is key if you are looking for work in Canada.  Sometimes this can be a Catch 22 – if you are a new immigrant to Canada, how are you expected to get Canadian experience if no one will hire you? There are not-for-profit agencies that specialize in this kind dilemma and would be happy to help, such as COSTI and The Career Foundation. Volunteering can be another great option for gaining Canadian connections and experience.

    • Minimized Employment Gaps (or better yet none)

While gaps sometimes happen (life isn’t always perfect), being unemployed for a significant period of time typically signals that a candidate was laid-off or fired. However there are always exceptions, and if you are one of the exceptions, try to proactively answer this question in your cover letter when reaching out to companies or talking with recruiters. If you went on mat leave, took some time off to care for an aging parent, or returned to school to upgrade your skills – highlight this as they are completely valid reasons for the gap.

    • Details!

Many senior people that I come across sometimes fail to highlight and go into detail about their consulting and/or project experience. There is no hard and fast rule to how long or short your resume should be, however, the old “the page rule” does not always apply. If you have 20 years’ experience, show it. Seven to eight page resumes are typical for senior and technical level candidates that I work with.

These points are just some general principles that recruiters look for in a resume. If this isn’t you, DON’T PANIC.  Just knowing these guidelines can help guide you moving forward and don’t forget that a friendly, out-going personality and a positive attitude can go a long way.