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What Do Employers Look For In a Resume

Imagine seeing “Objective: To secure a position with a company…” or “Professional Summary: A results driven leader…” hundreds of times a day. That’s the life of the HR hiring manager and recruiter. They see so many resumes that they all look the same and sound the same everyday – all day. Resumes are just not exciting or attractive or sexy – however you want to say it.

As a HR professional and Expert Resume Writer I see a lot of resumes and I interact with a lot of folks who screen resumes. I know what I like to see in a resume but I’ve also asked some of the others what they like to see on resumes. Here’s what they look for…


what do employers look for in a resume


What do employers look for in a resume?

A Real Format

There are four major resume styles; chronological, reverse chronological, functional and hybrids. The most popular and easy to screen is the reverse chronological order resume. It lets the reader see your most recent job history first. You should display a maximum of 10-12 years of stable work history, anything else and you could be outdating yourself. There are so many resumes without a clear format. If you break one of these four formats – with something like an eye catching design, which can capture the attention of hard to reach companies  – it better be well done and done for good reason.

Sometimes job seekers want to highlight their favorite job or they want to show the most important job title in which they have had at the top. You want to make a great first impression, so I get it, but if things are out of order it confuses the reader. Also under format, do not use too much indentation because it makes the resume look misaligned.



Make sure that your resume makes sense. What does that mean? Sometimes we tend to apply for jobs that we want versus jobs in which we realistically qualify.  But when a company is hiring for an accountant but your background and resume is tailored to retail management, then the employer does not see the connection and it gets tossed. So be sure to apply for work that is relevant to your skills and within your wheelhouse.


Show Me the Value Add

Don’t just tell them about the directions you’ve followed throughout your career, show the value you’ve added. Use action words to show that you added something to the position. Every job is an opportunity to add value, if it’s through our service or problem solving skills. You have value, now tell us about it on your resume. Tell us about how you’ve saved the company money by suggesting a safer way to work or better safety equipment. Let us know about the time you noticed a flaw in the workforce process and how you suggested a new or better way and how it helped out. Did you lower costs somehow? Did you create a positive change? Brag, just a little bit.

What Does a Resume Look Like?

Make sure your resume is attractive, make sure it’s relevant to the job, make sure you have traditional format and be sure to use terminology that paints you as a valuable contributor to the company.  Because those are the things employers want to see in a resume.


chris fields - what employers look for in a resumeChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes ( Also Check out “4 Resume Red Flags.”

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.