5 Things Hiring Managers Look for in a Resume

Dreading resume writing is a universal past time.

We all dread trying to make our years worth of work and accomplishments into an impressive list that screams “HIRE ME!” – even as someone who writes resumes for other people, I dread when mine needs an update. Dear Hiring Manager, can’t you just trust that I’m awesome?!


As a hiring manager, I know the power of a well written, focused, and (dare I say) skim-able resume when selecting candidates for an interview. In my experience, here are the top five things I am looking for when you send in your resume.

1. A Cover Letter. I know…it’s not technically part of your resume, and let’s face it, the cover letter is the hardest part of resume writing, but a cover letter is imperative. A cover letter is your opportunity to highlight the aspects of your experience that align with the job description. The cover letter is how you tell me your experience selling t-shirts at American Eagle translates to the job of Marketing Manager.

2. Accomplishments, Not Responsibilities. You resume is not an opportunity to condense your current job description into fewer bullet points. Don’t tell me what you were responsible for doing, tell me what you actually did – highlight your accomplishments.

Who would you hire?

Person 1: “Managed the sales team.” OR

Person 2: “Increased sales by 25% through the implementation of individual goals for the sales team.”?

3. Be specific about your skills. Most hiring managers give resumes a quick skim before they decide to move forward with a candidate. Make their job as easy as possible by highlighting your skills all together in one spot. What are the things you’re really good at? Examples: Team Leadership, Training Facilitation, Program Development, Program Evaluation, Social Media Management, Sales, Customer Service.

4. Save and send as a PDF. Unless otherwise directed, always send your resume as a PDF. With all of the different versions of word processing programs, templates, and printers out there, a PDF ensures that the formatting you worked so hard on will translate through any method of application submission. If I receive a resume that I can’t read because of the formatting, it’s going in the “no” pile without a second thought.

5. Keep it UNDER two pages. My rule of thumb is to highlight at least your last 10 years worth of work experience, or your last three jobs. If you have enough of professional experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for, keep the details of other jobs that are not relevant to a minimum. If you absolutely cannot keep it to one page it’s okay to go over onto a second, beyond that you’ve got consolidate or reformat.

BONUS TIP: Ask for someone to proof read for you for formatting and content errors, but double check the details yourself. Make sure your email address and phone number are accurate and easily found at a quick glance. Make it easy for them to get into contact with you.

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