By: Kristen A. Urhausen-Kummerer, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and former Big Four recruiting and operations leader

I have read thousands of resumes in my career with the Big Four and have seen all styles, formats and lengths. Having a resume with the right information, format and presentation can make or break your chances of grabbing the attention of a recruiter. There is no doubt that resume writing is one of the hardest things to do. It takes time and patience, but if done right, you can capture a recruiter’s attention and score an interview that will help you get one step closer to your dream job.

Here is a list of five things that are eye-catching to recruiters:

1. Notable accomplishments vs. a list of responsibilities  

When you include notable accomplishments, you are immediately showing the reader how you added value to your current/past employers, and how you could do the same for their company. Notable accomplishments should include quantifiable information, if possible, and a concise explanation of how you achieved the accomplishment. For example, the line, “Helped company save $300K in expenses annually” should be edited to say, “Key contributor in helping company save $300K in expenses, annually, by re-negotiating all vendor contracts and implementing an automated approval process workflow for all expenses.” A list of responsibilities doesn’t help sell you, your skills or capabilities is what will get your foot in the door.

2. Modern and slick format  

The format of your resume must be clean and easy to read. If your resume doesn’t have a format that is easy to follow, you will lose the reader’s attention in the first few seconds. Consider these guidelines:

  • Make sure your name jumps off the page by using at 20 pt. font
  • Include a bolded headline under your contact information (i.e., Innovative Information Technology Consulting Director)
  • Stray away from Times New Roman or Book Antiqua as the font. Use a font such as Cambria, Arial or Helvetica
  • Bold important information at the beginning of each notable accomplishment in an effort to encourage the reader to continue reading

3. Simplified contact information.

The key contact information to share is your name, e-mail address, phone number and a link to your LinkedIn profile. There is no need to include your physical address.

4. Career summaries that highlight expertise, experience vs. soft skills

Most candidates highlight their ability to communicate, get along with people and build relationships in their career summaries. Although this is important, recruiters want to know what your sweet spot is. When people think of you professionally, what comes to mind? If you are an IT consultant, you probably have strong experience assessing current information system infrastructures and providing custom solutions that meet client needs and business objectives.

5. Tables

Use tables to highlight technical skills and other competencies vs. including them in a bulleted list.

Now that you know what recruiters like to see on resumes, here are five things that make recruiters cringe:

1. Resumes longer than two pages

Recruiters spend an average of less than one minute reviewing a resume, and will most likely put your resume in the “no thank you” pile if it is longer than two pages.

2. Detailed company descriptions about current, past employers 

If you choose to include a company description, try to limit it to one sentence. Including more than one sentence takes up valuable white space and will lose the interest of the reader.

3. Objective statements

Adding an objective statement is out-of-date and will not help you stand out from the crowd. By applying for an open position, you are implying that you are looking for a new opportunity that will utilize your skills and career interests at a specific company.

4. References available upon request

Make it easier on employers, and yourself, by offering your references early on. In some cases, employers will automatically ask for references either on the job application, or after they have decided to extend you an offer of employment.

5. Misspellings and grammatical errors

Be sure to double and triple check your resume. Print it out and read each word out loud to make sure that it reads perfectly. Consider sending it to a friend to review as well. You need to demonstrate to the reader that you pay close attention to detail.

So, how does your resume stack up?


Kristen A. Urhausen-Kummerer received her Bachelor of Science in commerce from DePaul in 1992 and has 22 years of Big Four recruiting and operations leadership experience at KPMG LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Arthur Andersen & Co, SC. She has interviewed and hired hundreds of professionals ranging from administrative assistants to senior executives over the years. Kristen is currently an independent resume designer and career advisor who focuses on partnering with job seekers as they prepare for their job search. She provides job seekers with insight on current resume trends, prepares them for interviews and helps to increase their confidence. Kristen is also an active ASK member and has helped students prepare for job fairs and interviews, in addition to providing career guidance and mentoring.