What Do Employers Look For In A Resume

What Do Employers Look For In A ResumeWhat Do Employers Look For In A Resume?  Your resume needs to be designed to help you stand out from the crowd in today’s world where companies are receiving thousands of resumes each week.  Yahoo recently revealed that they receive upwards of 12 thousand resumes per week.  Ensuring that your resume stands out from the crowd is one thing, also making sure that you have all the information that a recruiter or hiring manager wants to see is another. 

Recruiters and hiring managers on average will spend between 6 seconds to a maximum of 30 seconds reading your resume before either moving onto the next resume or giving you a phone call. To make sure that your resume is one of the ones that a recruiter or hiring manager calls is actually very easy, but you will need to write your resume correctly.

What Do Employers Look For In A Resume?  Well in this post I am going to go through a few points that Recruiters and Hiring Managers want to see on your resume, and a few that they do not want to see on your resume.


Resume Layout

How your resume looks is going to be the first step.  Over the years recruiters have been sent some crazy resumes which might be received well either when you’re a graduate looking for you first job or when you’re working in creative design, however in general its best to stay away from these designs and look for a standard layout. 

Make sure you choose the right font (Tahoma size 10/11 for the body and size 14 for Headings), use the same style the whole way though, use bullet points, line breaks and bold formatting to increase the visual impact.


The First Section

The first section of your resume is where you’re going to put your name, telephone number and email.  Make sure they’re correct.  Nothing will get your resume in the bin quicker than when your telephone number is called and it doesn’t work.  Right at the top of your resume next to your name is a great place for any major qualifications that you have completed such as MBA, ACCA, and CPA.  An employer is going to look at your name and will notice any major qualifications. 

The first section should also include your Personal Statement. Your Personal Statement is the first opportunity to impress and will be read.  Unfortunately its also your first opportunity to make a mess and a bad Personal Statement usually means your resume will be read in 10 seconds rather than the usual 20-30 seconds.

Employers, Recruiters and Hiring Managers want to know what you can do for their business and not what job your looking for as this can go into your cover letter.  You should also write your personal statement in the third party.  “Dynamic professional with over 10 years experience in…… Proven Track record…”, could be a great starting point for a personal statement.



Employment History

Recruiters are looking here for the companies that you have worked for, the positions, and further explanation of what you have been personally responsible for.  Recruiters are most interested in your most recent work experience and anything that is older than 10 years is not relevant and therefore will not be read.

The Companies – If you’re working in a major company that everyone will have heard of such as PepsiCo or Nike then you can leave off the company description.  If on the other hand you’re working at Nick’s Place which no-one will have heard of because its just been made up, then you need to include a short one or two line description of the company.  Employers like people from their own industry, therefore if your experience is in a property company, other property companies will be interested in you.

Job Titles – Your job titles need to be included in your Resume and if possible try to get your job titles increasing in seniority.  CEO, Head of, are great job titles, however if you’re suddenly applying for junior management roles, questions will be asked.

Your Responsibilities – Employers are looking to find out what you personally, have actually had experience of.  You need to explain each keyword that you use.  If you’re a financial planner, don’t just put the keyword “financial planner”, but explain in further detail what you actually were responsible for.

Whatever you do, don’t lie or bend the truth on your resume as you will be found out and honestly this is not a good way to make a good impression.  Recently I met a Sports Event Manager whose resume read “responsible for organizing from scratch a sporting event”.  The interview lasted 15 minutes because actually the candidate was not responsible for anything and was just involved in the organization of a sporting event.



The right place for your education really depends on the level of your education and what else you have to offer.  If you have better education than work experience then your education should come first.  For your major qualifications I would always recommend that you put these next to your name at the top of your resume to stand out, however for the rest of your education include the dates, the name of the college and what you studied.  If you have great grades then you can include this otherwise leave it out.



Apply to jobs that you are perfect for, not jobs that you can do in your sleep, or ones that you would like to try because you think you could do it.  Employers want candidate that will consider the job to be a challenge and therefore enjoy their working day.

Employing a candidate that is going to find the job too easy, too difficult or does not have working experience, means that most likely you are going to be looking for another candidate in six months because your first candidate has left.

If the candidate finds the job too easy, they will become bored, not be motivated and when a better job comes along they will be off.  If the candidate finds the job too difficult because they do not have enough experience then the employer is going to be spending a lot of time helping out trying to complete the work and teach the candidate to get them up to speed so that they can work on their own.  If the candidate cannot learn quickly the employer will have to find another person to do the work which means they have wasted a lot of time – again not something they want to have.

Job Relevancy is very important and employers are wise to this point.  Ideally you need to only apply to jobs that are a slight step up for you.  Either the job responsibilities will be 90% of what you doing already and 10% something new, or the same job but in a slightly larger business.

Applying for jobs that are five pay grades above your’s only get your resume quicker into the bin.


Tailor Made

Employers want to see skills on candidate’s resumes but with the thousands of resumes flying around all over the Internet, skill keywords are becoming less and less important.  Every resume that I read will have the words team player, motivated candidate, good communication skills or good organization skills.  Honestly these words are simply meaningless these days.

Employers still want to see these keywords, but they want to see keywords that are relevant to them.  Companies will often use some form of applicant tracking system where keywords are searched for on your resume.  Any resumes without these specific keywords will instantly be rejected.

You need to make sure that your resume includes keywords from the companies career website that will be specific to them.  If we take a look at Google’s Career Site the first thing you will notice is their motto “Do Cool Things that Matter”.  If you’re going to apply to Google, make sure this phrase is on your resume. 

Further down on the main career page, Google mentions that they “don’t just accept difference – we celebrate it, support it and thrive on it”. Again if you’re wanting to apply to Google then a perfect personal statement that include these words, something like “Dynamic, Skilled and highly educated candidate that doesn’t just accept difference but celebrates it, supports it and thrives on it” could be a great way to start your resume that you’re going to send to Google to get it to stand out from the crowd.



Your resume is the first step into a new job and once you’ve passed the resume test and have an interview, you’re 75% of the way forwards to getting a new job.  Employers do not have time to interview hundreds of candidates until they meet the right one, therefore if you get an interview, the job is yours unless you loose it during the interview process.