What do hiring managers look for on a resume

It’s not always easy finding the best match for a vacant job position.  Hiring managers are bombarded with countless resumes and have such short time to go through them.  So what can you do to increase your chances of success of getting noticed?  You need to understand what employers and hiring managers look for on a resume.

Keywords

Keywords are an important part of any resume.  These technology-driven days we live in makes it particularly critical to disseminate which keywords will increase your chances of getting your resume through ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems).  Take the time to review each job posting you are thinking of applying to and try to find similar keywords, or relevant keywords that you can seamlessly incorporate into your resume, or cover letter.

Accomplishments

Reading a list of responsibilities is absolutely boring to anyone.  Your resume should include accomplishments, facts, and figures.  We already know that you were an assistant manager or an engineer, but so what?  What did you DO with your time?  What results did you create for your employer?  Make sure to integrate these accomplishments and quantifiable figures in a way that will capture the readers attention.  Numbers can be related to sales goals, efficiencies, savings for the organization, growth for the organization, reduction in turnover, number of people you managed or trained, etc.  You’ve worked hard, show the results of your labor.

Readability

It’s important that you clarify your message with clarity.  So many resumes we see are overly wordy, use too many abbreviations, too much industry jargon, etc.  When writing your resume, try to consider the reader; you don’t know how much or how little they know and the more clear the message the easier it will be for a hiring manager to understand.  Some resume writers suggest telling a story, others emphasize the use of bullet points, some incorporate both.  In either case, you want to answer the question of “what did you do in that role?” in as clear a manner as possible.  Don’t get hung up on technical details, they are rarely relatable.  Instead, describe the effect on the organization your technical contributions.  And in general, shorter is better.  Keep in mind your resume is a marketing tool designed to get you interviews.  You can go into more detail in the interview.

Obvious embellishments

Please don’t lie on your resume.  While it is generally acceptable to speak highly of yourself and your contributions, keep your message in the realm of reality.  Hiring managers and recruiters can often smell BS, and if somehow you slip through the cracks on false accomplishments, the truth will eventually catch up with you.  If you just can’t think of the right things to say about yourself, consider working with a certified professional resume writer, they can be pretty crafty with their words!

Time spent at each job

Employers do look at the time you’ve spent in each role.  While it is becoming more common to change jobs more frequently as a way to fast-track your career and earning potential, if you’ve struggled to hold several jobs for more than a year or two, this may raise some red flags.  There are some ways a resume writer can work with this to make it less obvious on your resume but you will eventually need to come to terms with this and consider how you can explain this to a hiring manager.

Formatting

Formatting is closely related to readability in the sense that you need to give consideration to the reader.  Make your resume as clean and organized as possible.  Make sure there is a good balance of text and white space so as to not overwhelm the reader with information. If you are going to write the resume yourself, make sure you select a format that is appropriate for you industry and seniority.  A recent college grad looking for his first full-time job is going to focus more on education, relevant experiences, extra-curricular activities, etc while a senior level tech industry manager will have more emphasis on the results of their professional experience, with much less emphasis on education.  Refer to our past posting about the components of a resume.

There are a lot of resources available to you if you want to write your own resume.  But do yourself a favor, invest the time to do it right.  Your resume can have a huge impact on your career.  If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, work with a professional resume writer, it’s worth it.

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