In my time in Talent Acquisition I have presented tens of thousands of resumes to hiring managers who were hiring in a variety of industries. Some of them have significant experience in hiring and some are making the first hire for their new team. However with a few exceptions most of these hiring managers were looking for the same 5 things. It has been said that perception is reality. To a point, this is also true with resumes. What you are able to convey, in the very limited time that a hiring manager is looking at your resume, is exactly how they are going to see you. If you leave off accomplishments and the impact you have made in previous roles, as far as they are concerned, it never happened. With competition for great roles being so intense, it’s crucial that you are able to vocalize why you are someone they can’t afford to not speak with. But what are those things you ask? What is it hiring managers need to see on a resume in order for you to be given the opportunity to interview for the role you are pursuing? Over the last 6 years and working with hundreds of hiring managers, below is the list of the 5 things hiring managers look for in a resume.
- Job Stability
Even as more and more millennials enter the workforce and the trend of remaining with a single company your entire career becomes an extinct concept, hiring managers still want to see some sort of job stability. They don’t want see any unexplained gaps of employment and they don’t want to see stints of jobs less than a year. What typically passes for job stability is a bare minimum of two years at each company but averaging three or higher over the course of your career. It also can vary from hiring manager to hiring manager. If someone has been at a company for 25 years and you have been at your company for 4 years, they might look at you leaving already as a potential red flag whereas another hiring manager might look at that as commonplace. While this isn’t something easily remedied, it is certainly something you should take into account when deciding if it’s time to look for a new role. That being said, there are a few easy things you can do to make your resume appear as if there is a little more stability. For example, if you had a contract or a consulting role at a company, make sure that you is something you convey. Too many people have three or four jobs in a row that are one year stays and when I talk to them I find out that they were consulting roles. It is one thing to have worked a few contract roles in a row during a tough economy, it is a totally different thing to have a string of one year stays.
- Clear and concise points of job duties
When hiring managers look at the bullet points of prior roles they are looking for points of comparison. They want to be able to look at your prior roles, clearly see what your responsibilities were and then be able to stack that up to what you will be doing on their team. They don’t want redundancy or convoluted explanations. They want to know what your responsibilities were. Make sure you look at the job you are applying for, look at the responsibly for that role and try and match up what you have done in the past. I am not suggesting you make anything up but if you have done everything under responsibilities of the job you are applying to, you are certainly not doing yourself any favors if you don’t showcase that you have done those things in prior roles. While there are many ways to format a resume, I have always been in favor of a summary of the role, followed by bulleted tasks and accomplishments. This clearly shows the hiring manager what you have done in the past and how it relates to the role you have applied for. If there are tools specific to the role, make sure you include those as well.
- Measurable Results
Making an impact in a prior role is great, but if you don’t do a good job of clearly defining that impact then it might as well not be on your resume. Let me give you a few examples. Saying “I was able to increase productivity through the implementation of lean manufacturing practices” is ok. However saying “Was able to improve productivity 18% over a 12 month period resulting in 150k cost savings by implementing lean manufacturing techniques and leading three Kiazan events” is way better. It gives the hiring manager a clear idea of what you did and the impact you may be able to deliver to their organization. Even better, if the job description specifically states a responsibility you would have in the new role and you have had successful projects in the past that are similar, use the above technique to sell yourself for that role. If you can find a pain point and align that with one of your strengths, it is a great way to guarantee the hiring managers enthusiasm towards your candidacy.
- Technical Competencies
Now while this doesn’t necessary hold true for all roles, if you have a role with any sort of technical requirements, you better believe the hiring manager is looking for them on your resume. For example if you are a computer programmer and the role requires you to code primarily in C and C# it would behoove you to have that in your resume. Some people do this by having a competencies or skills portion of their resume and some people will just include it in the bullet points of their previous roles. Really smart candidates will do both. Not only is this smart when it comes to impressing the hiring manager, but many ATS’s (applicant tracking systems) will assign you a percentage value for your fit to the role by examining your resume and the job description. So if you see a role requires you to be proficient in C,C+ and C#, make sure you have those in terms in your resume where applicable. Not only will it stand out to the recruiter and hiring manager but the algorithm used in the employers ATS will most likely take note of that and assign you a favorable score.
- Education and training
I have worked with many hiring managers over the course of my career who look straight to this section of the resume. Whether they are looking for a degree from a specific University with a well-respected program or if they are looking for the certifications you have racked up along the way, believe me they look. Most people who obtain a certification such as a 6 Sigma black belt proudly display it on their resume and with good reason. If you have done the work top obtain degrees and certifications, make sure they are properly displayed because for most hiring managers it is a crucial component to your candidacy. Most people have a section for education and certification so I know this isn’t groundbreaking information but I can’t stress its importance. Also, if you have undergone company training’s or have other applicable training, make sure you make mention of that too.
In today’s world your resume isn’t your only resume. If you are looking for a job (and even if you aren’t) have a well put together LinkedIn profile. I have been contacted via LinkedIn for two of my last four jobs. I didn’t have to apply, someone reached out to me and sold me on the opportunity. Each time I am happy I listened. Not to mention I have reached out to thousands of people on LinkedIn to offer them the chance at a new opportunity. Check out this post I wrote on just why LinkedIn is so important for modern professionals LinkedIn for Job Seekers. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post below. Thanks for reading!