What Do Employers Look For In a Resume?

What Do Employers Look For In a Resume?

Your resume plays a vital role in the hiring process. And while you might know what a resume should look like, do you know what an employer wants to see? By knowing what an employer wants to see on your resume, you increase your chances of an interview or even a job offer.

Why It Matters

If you don't have a great resume, you won't progress through the hiring process. Everything hinges on a recruiter or hiring manager looking at your resume and choosing to pursue you. But you can't expect the person to go through your resume in detail. In fact, they may only spend about six seconds looking at the document.

Before you apply for jobs, you need to make sure your resume is what the hiring manager wants. This means using the right format, wording, and more. If you want to stand out, you need to spend time on your resume.

What the Hiring Manager Wants

Every employer is different, and they don't all look for the same traits in their employees.  However, they do all hope to see certain things in your resume. As you go through your document, make sure it includes all of the following:

Career Summary

A hiring manager doesn't have time to read your autobiography. Although you might have a very interesting career history, don't use a page to describe each previous position.

In about two or three sentences, summarize your previous position. Each job should have a description of a similar length and should be relevant to the position you're applying for. Wherever possible, include words that relate back to the job description. Doing so could help you get past any applicant tracking systems and also makes it clear that you're qualified for the position.


Words are great, but they don't give a hiring manager concrete evidence. Every job applicant says that they are hard workers, but most applicants don't have proof. If you provide a hiring manager with some context through metrics, you can make your statements more believable.

Quantifiable achievements are highly valuable, so include them wherever possible. If you're not sure what metrics to include, think about your accomplishments. Did you hit a certain sales goal or manage a set budget? No matter what industry you're in, there are metrics to measure your success.

Time as a Volunteer

By volunteering your time, you commit a selfless act. An employer sees volunteer experience as proof that you don't just care about the money. If you're willing to volunteer your time, you care about the greater good.

When you include volunteer experiences on your resume, avoid including anything political or religious. This doesn't mean you need to keep the experience off your resume, though. If you volunteered for a religious organization overseas, don't mention the name of the organization. Simply state the type of volunteer work you did.


Before you decide to paint your resume bright red, know that a hiring manager doesn't want to see an eye-sore. They do want to see a small splash of color, like two accent colors with your black font. Fit bonus points, include colors that are similar to the company's colors.

Modern Look

Is your resume dated and old? If so, a hiring manager could think the same of you. For the best results, use a modern font and learn more about current resume layouts. Updating your resume makes you appear much more valuable as an employee.

If you're not sure what fonts to use, stuck with Calibri or Verdana. You need a standard font and one that's easy to read.

When you include links in your resume, you make it easy for hiring manager's to get more information about you. A hiring manager may not take the time to look for your website, but they might click on a link to your blog.

Include hyperlinks for your email address, website, and social media accounts. Before you include the links, make sure they are all professional and paint you in a positive light.

Substitutes for Experience

If you're a recent college graduate, this tip is particularly important. You probably don't have the experience a hiring manager wants, but don't let that stop you from applying for jobs. As long as you can substitute something for experience, you may get an interview request.

In lieu of experience, include college coursework or volunteer opportunities. Make the connection between the coursework  clear, or there's no point in including it.

Academic Details

Once again, this tip is more for college graduates than anyone else. If you've been out of school for 20 years, the hiring manager doesn't need to know your academic history. But a recent graduate could benefit from including their GPA.

Typically, a GPA of 3.7 or higher is worth mentioning. You could also mention any honors you received upon graduating.

Life Experience

Everyone has personal experiences that make them more valuable as employees. By including those experiences, you make your resume come to life. Include details like studying abroad to come across as a more interesting candidate.

If you have any hobbies that lend to your skills, include those. But don't mention irrelevant hobbies just for the sake of seeming unique. Everything should be relevant  to the job listing.

White Space

If your resume is longer than one page or crammed with words, a hiring manager may not read it. You should try to keep the document as concise as possible and format it in a way that creates white space.

If you want to impress the hiring manager, edit your resume down. In this case, less is more. Every word should have a purpose.

Sending Off Your Resume

It's time to get to work on improving your resume. By catering to what employers want to see, you maximize your chance of a good outcome. Start sending your resume off to prospective employers and wait for the calls to come in. While you wait, prepare yourself for an interview.

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