What Do Employers Look for in a Resume?

today what I thought would be fun to do is give you a checklist kind of a do this don't do that for your resume just a handy sheet you can use of you know things to think about before you write your resume and then as you write your resume glance at it and then when you're done writing your resume look back at this checklist it's got 8 items on it and say did I do that did I do that so that's we're gonna talk about also in the description there's free giveaways there's other videos to reference my entire social platform is in there I love to get connected with you on Facebook LinkedIn Twitter and all those other places I just love to keep the conversation going wherever you are is where I want to be to help you so let's dive in alright so on that on that checklist that that I want to give you one of the first and most important items actually this one might be my favorite and I tried to do this in some reasonable order that made sense but one of my favorite things to include in the resume that I love to see and you must have it is a summary so summarize before you dive into the details and why do you want to do that so a lot of people say to me well Andy you know yes a the resume should only be so long and I don't want to make it too long and I don't want to include extra information up at the top and the reader the reviewer the hiring official has to go through more stuff at the beginning of the resume when they can get right into the to the blood and guts well that's one way of looking at it but think about this wouldn't it be better for you to control the narrative about what the person sees and when they see it and what they learn about you so think about it this way if you get her if I get a resume and it starts right into here's my job you know here's my name here's my city and all that good stuff and here's my job and then I have to go to the next one and the next one and the next one now you might have less text that I had to go through but what I now need to do is I now need to the summary for you in my mind what do I think about this person how can I remember who this person is and what they're about and what they've done in their career you've left me to my own devices which may or may not be good I might misinterpret instead if you've got a summary up there what you're doing is you're controlling what I see first and wouldn't it be better to make sure that I see what you want me to see first wouldn't it be better for you to control the information that's fed to me so that I'm getting what you want me to get not what I might be able to pick and choose throughout the glancing I'm doing around your resume wouldn't that be better to control what I see how I see it what you highlight I would think that that's that's way better in actually it's a lot less work for people who are reviewing your your resume so that's one of the best things that you can do up at the top is to control the narrative make the reviewer hang out at the top of your page as long as you can and here's a great one I get this question a lot hey you know I'm working 20 years and I spent the first you know 10 or 15 years and the financial services industry and then I spent the last five years or so in health care but I really want to get back to my financial services roots but then when somebody sees my resume they see the health care stuff first well that may be but you could talk to me at the top of your resume about how you are a seasoned financial services executive with 15 years of your 20 years of experience spent in that industry and highlight the insurance stuff the banking stuff those kind of things and and all that can be pulled up to the top so for those of you who are trying to get back to something you used to do or even wanting to make a career change that is something that ought to be a focal point so much of this discussion probably and spend more time on that than the rest of these but that's a really big honking deal you can call it whatever you want I call it a career profile I've even got a video out there on that we did a live office hours last year on how to create that and what to include so that's out there you can call it a career summary you can call it a summary and anything you want and one other thing before I go on to the second thing for all you college students out there I know I got a lot of other interns and and young professionals out there and they always ask me well it's an auntie I'm just graduating I've got shooting my education be at the top it should it should be right below your profile and encapsulate what what you are as a student as a volunteer as an intern as a whatever it is what is it that you can tell the employers in summary form right up top it's gonna separate you college students and recent college grads so go to do that I've also got a video out there called this one trick will make your College resume stand out check that out alright number two number two I want you to think in terms of what you offer not what you need the resume is about what you offer not what you need so in every sense in the work the worst mistake you can make is starting out your resume with an objective statement it's important what you want and if I'm gonna hire you that's important to me I want to understand that but I don't want I don't want to see that on a resume I want to see what value you're gonna contribute to my organization your resume is a marketing document of you its sole purpose is to get somebody to want to speak to you live whether that's on the phone in person in offices over coffee whatever the faster you can do that the more effective the resume is but what you never want to do is waste real estate on an objective statement or the types of types of jobs you're seeking you can use the interview for that you can use your cover letter there's a many many ways but it has no room in the resume so think think value don't think objective number three think accomplishments not activities so what do I mean by that well you can have activities that you perform so I'm responsible for managing this team I'm responsible for improving the business processes blah blah blah I'm responsible for developing software I'm responsible for marketing our companies whatever so those are activities and those are the things that you do but on a resume nay those are very secondary compared to what it is you actually accomplished as a result of doing those activities so you want to make your resume more accomplishments or achievements focused where you're highlighting the benefits of your activities so what it was that you did so if you optimized business processes where you streamline something what did you save what did you save in terms of dollars what did you save in terms of time if you are an accountant who was chartered with closing actually reducing your company's closing process that took 10 days of 10 people that now takes five days of 10 people that's the kind of stuff so you reduced the closing time by 50% from 10 days to 5 days and in all the workdays and all its stuff that you saved so that's the kind of stuff you want to make sure you're highlighting the accomplishments the benefits and and not just the activities if you want to throw the activities in there that's great I taught you how to do this in how to write the perfect resume bullets check that one out what's number four evidence evidence not opinions so this is one I think people really struggle with a shot of espresso time I'm not naturally like this you'd be amazed at how calm I am but anyway evidence versus opinions this is one that drives most recruiters crazy and actually it drives most recruiters crazy and it drives them the most crazy think in terms of all those statements that you might find on your resume that say I'm a great leader I'm detail-oriented I'm a self-starter I'm entrepreneurial I'm disruptive ooh I'm I'm those things I'm a good time manager I'm organized I'm a good project manager whatever it is those are opinions and opinions have no place in the resume I don't care who told you what the resume is not the place for your opinion of yourself because a skilled reviewer of your resume glosses right over that stuff what he or she is looking for is why are you a good project manager did you bring your projects in and and on budget if you are a good optimizer did you actually save the company money by reducing something if you are a great leader and you manage people what did the team accomplish so what did you inspire them to do what did you teach them to do how did you motivate them that's the kind of stuff that they're looking for and as a bonus on this evidence one item the more precise your information about the evidence the more believable and the more the reviewer enjoys it so what do I mean by precision when it comes to evidence so if you optimize something it's better to say I reduced it by 50% which was five days from 10 days to five days that's precise as opposed to what I see a lot in resumes is I reduced it several days I managed many accounts I did this for lats it grew substantially those words you should comb your resume for any of those types of words and do everything possible to remove them they have no room in the resume was it several clients or was it 23 was or five or 17 and if you don't know exactly because you're trying to put a resume together and you haven't looked for a job in 10 years then do your darndest to try to figure out what that number is or near or say more than 20 or something of that nature but lend some specificity and precision to anything that you claim is a big honkin deal all right what's next which a memory memorable is your layout memorable do you take advantage of white space or are you using eight-point font with 0.25 margins on the side and the paragraph spacing between lines is that big if it's very dense it's very difficult for the reviewer to scan it which and you want it to be easily scanned and memory isn't just about what I can retain it's also about can I go back to his or her resume and where where was that and where can I find that I remember reading it and going right to the spot that is memorably pleasing and you want to do whatever you can to do it so that's that's number five number six chronology every human being that's ever been born and ever will be anybody on the face of the earth thinks in terms of time they think in terms of time and the first question that goes to their head when they open up a resume is what are you doing now the second question is what did you do before that so where are you working now or where did you work most recently where did you work before that and so on they want to be able to see that chronology because that's how they think and what they're also looking for is does this person have a nice evolution has this person made more or less good decisions based on you know going from this company to that company or this position to that position within the company or whatever so they want to be able to formulate that the biggest don't and the biggest don't this is this actually as I as I'm teaching you and I'm explaining this my skin and the my hair and my back of my neck is actually standing up do not under any circumstances put together a crown sorry a functional resume so chronology is in terms of time where I am today where I was before that and so on functional resume is I was a project manager and over here this is all the organizations that I did that function it's very very difficult for the employer the reviewer the recruiter whoever it is looking at your resume to actually understand a functional resume and by the way I am NOT just giving you my opinion obviously I know what I like and I share that with you and sometimes I share that with you very emphatically and sometimes I share that with you a little bit more in a relaxed nature but I also think I have a good pulse on the market because I'm constantly surveying recruiters and HR people and as mere fact last November I did a survey to a bunch of recruiters and I even called a bunch of recruiters to kind of you know what's the current stuff how are you feeling about this I had a bunch of questions for him and one of them resume Foreman and I asked them what they do or how they feel about functional resumes over 90 percent of them said they don't like them and of the 80 percent of the 90 percent said they don't even read them so because here again going back to the point I was making about the summary the summary allows you to format the narrative for me and you know your your spoon feeding me and so you're actually making my life easier when I review your resume when you create a functional resume you are now making me again put the narrative together because I'm trying to answer the time questions and the evolution questions of you and you're making me work harder every time on the resume you make the person work harder it's not like a linear point of pain so the first time something happens it's like wow okay that's no big deal the second time it's not like I'm in twice as much pain it's like I'm in ten times as much pain and the next time it's usually third strike you're out and then they pitch the resume that's what's actually happening because because you're frustrating them and you know I I probably surprisingly look at resumes longer actually I look at them longer than I used to and I look at them in in great detail when I'm reviewing them now but my function is different as a trainer I have different I have different activities and and different coaching aspects that I want to teach but as recruiter or somebody who's reviewing hundreds and hundreds of resumes every day their patience is very low and it's not very tolerant for people who are not spoon feeding them so I just I want to make sure you you take my message in stride here I'm trying to help you understand what it is that they're going through so you can be mindful of that as you format your resume so think in terms of chronology don't think in terms of function number number seven make it manageable make it manageable in length I always get this question every few days I get a question on the YouTube channel or on my blog what's the appropriate length here's your here's your hard and fast rule if you are in the commercial industry and you are putting a professional style resume together two pages no more no exceptions none I could get a 30-year career down to 26 words you can get a 30-year career down to two pages and if you don't think that you can then the first place you ought to look at on your resume is are you trying to list every single thing you've ever done in your life the resume is not a complete work history it is a highlight of your work history so I want you to think in those terms if you are a college student or you're a recent college graduate you can certainly get away with one page if you've if you've started working a bunch of years five years ten years you know you might start bleeding into two pages or maybe a full two pages depends how much volunteer work you're doing some extracurriculars and things like that that you might be doing but no one should be beyond two pages if you are in the academic arena and and you know CV style resume is the acceptable format where you've got research you've got publications you've got all kinds of additional books and things like that that you're writing then it can go it can go longer but if you're in the professional commercial work environment two pages no more no exceptions all right and last number eight you want to be relevant so I see a lot of resumes that take up room at the bottom where they talk about hobbies you know I'm a marathoner and I volunteer at the pet store and all this good stuff while that stuff's great and it's wonderful if you want to chitchat banter back and forth with the interviewer in the interview that's it's just got no room on the resume it just it really doesn't volunteer activities where you are doing something extreme you're spending a lot of time you have leadership getting leadership qualities as a result of doing volunteer activities and extracurricular activities is wonderful that I do want in the resume so I just want to be crystal clear here I'm talking about hobbies that are completely unrelated to either work or or or or building skills that are beneficial in the work environment so if you're sitting on a board at some you know non-for-profit that's awesome I want to hear about that but if you're a mare Konnor that's great just just let me know that if you know you'll know that I'm a runner if you come in my office and there's running pictures around you'll pick that up I've got friends that are CEOs they're fishermen and hunters and all kinds of stuff and that's great and you can you can share that but I just wouldn't put that I just wouldn't put it on the resume all right now I want to do this for you just so you can freeze the you can freeze the page just to recap what I said you've got eight of these little beauties OOP sorry I'm in though I must be in the wrong spot oh here we go okay I love being live all right here we go here's what the employer wants summary first what you offer not what you need accomplishments versus activities so think in terms of benefits versus daily duties evidence not opinions and the more precise you can get your evidence the better you want to have a memorable layout okay as opposed to something that's really thick and dense you want it to be in chronological order versus grouping your companies by job type you want it to be manageable two pages or less and you want it to be relevant so not excessive so that's that's a little that's a little recap there I'll leave that up for a quick second if you want to add a few note

22 thoughts on “What Do Employers Look for in a Resume?

  1. Hey Folks! Please let me know what is ailing your job search! Also, make sure to SUBSCRIBE to my channel so you can stay up to date on new videos every week and join my WEEKLY (YES! WEEKLY!) LIVE OFFICE HOURS SESSIONS every Thursday!

  2. As a tradesperson, who changes jobs every few months in my industry. How should i make my employment history without making it long to keep under two pages?

  3. Damn it. Watched so many of these types of videos. It's been over 7 years since I have had to deal with it. Everything is geared towards White collar. I'm a highly skilled tradesman. What I can do is dying. Yet, I need to sell myself. I used to just show up and talk my way into a job. Resume, what is that? I have a college degree. 3.96 GPA. Pretty sure no one cares. They just want to know if I can fix their shit. Well, I could 10 years ago, but now I've got paper to prove it. It's stupid to me but, I got it. You have a video for guys like me? Seriously, I make more money than most people with bachelor degrees. Don't think for once I didn't earn it. I spent years learning my trades. Yes, trades. I'm a journeyman in ,3 different trades. So, how about something for us guys. I'm done finding work from hanging out in a bar or just stopping by a construction site and asking if they are hiring. I actually quit a $22hr job one day and was driving 4 hours back home and got a $47hr job. World doesn't work that way anymore. Tell a highschool gas station worker how to write a resume. That would actually pretty much end your career.

  4. Awesome stuff. Great tips to use to keep thing in perspective when trying to sell yourself. Removing "Objective" from my resume now, let's go "Summary". How do I avoid cliches in the "Summary" hook? Things like "self-starter", "Strong work ethic", but still want the reader to know "Hey you have a gem here!"

  5. It is always good to think about what kind of job you are applying for and tailor your resume to match. I always look at a job application from both sides. ? I am interviewing them as much as they are me. You should have questions about the company and this is probably more for a cover letter, but think what would they want in a potential employee and How can I WOW them! ? I actually pay attention to those pretty non normal resumes people send in. They grab my attention ?

  6. Enjoy your channel! The profile/summary at the beginning of the resume is brilliant. My challenge is two-fold: 1) translating my years of "seasoned" teacher and building administrator experience into hard numbers and "improving my company's bottom line and 2) determining what transferable skills I have (want a career change). Thoughts? Thanks.

  7. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you so much for your videos! You opened my eyes 🙂
    I have a question though. I've had a lot of different job experiences in the past few years (due to several reasons) and now I want to apply for a completely different position in a big company and build a career there. My education and skills match the requirements (as I've learned a lot while doing those different jobs, I also like to study at home all the time). I usually put Relative job description of every position on my Resume. However, what do I put in the summary as professional? I believe, when employer sees that I've changed so many fields it gives him an idea that I can't last long-term. Is there any way to change this perspective using CV? Thank you!

  8. Great tips ..would have been great for my son who recently graduated from college and spent a long time searching for the right job

  9. Such great points – especially for those college grads. It can be tricky to figure out how to make a good resume when you don't have as much experience. Thanks for sharing your tips, Andy – cheers!

  10. Wow Andy wish I would have had this when I was writing resumes! LOVE the tip about leaving the personal stuff/hobbies OFF of the resume- I used to hire people at an old job and always felt like it was random on a resume! ? Definitely sharing this on Pinterest!

  11. Such an important tip about controlling the narrative at the top of your resume. If I think about how I look at resumes you're right, if it doesn't grab me at the top I'm likely to put it on the reject pile rather than diving in and looking for the good stuff.

  12. As a former recruiter, controlling the narrative is such a great tip! I would read the top and move past if it wasn't direct and compelling!

  13. Nice video!
    Is it OK to write “I want to join a great team, share experience, and create better software as a Python developer” in the resume’s summary section and/or a cover letter?

  14. Hi Andrew! Great pointers, I left a job after 11 yrs in the logistics industry doing Accounting. I want to shift over to the University or College environment. I was a student assistant in college is there a way where I can make this stand out. I been looking at College Counselor Financial Aid Advisor but haven't been very successful. Any advise how to make my 2.5 years of student assistant out? I will definitely going to take this list to try and reorganize my resume. Thanks so much!

  15. Hi, have you got any tips on how to figure out what job you want to get into when you have absolutely no idea. Thank you 🙂

  16. Great stuff here! I often link job objectives to being invited to dinner. Would you tell the person what you want them to cook for you 🙂

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