What do recruiters and hiring managers want to see on a resume?  is a question that I am frequently asked.

Thankfully, Career Directors International recently questioned recruiters, talent acquisition specialists, hiring managers and human resources professionals on what they most want to see on a resume.

The following is my summary of the main findings.

  • Don’t make your resume read like a job description. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know ‘what’ you did so instead, focus on your accomplishments. The reason behind this is that ultimately people are hired based on their ability to: help the organization: 1) make money 2) save money 3) save time. Therefore, your accomplishments should show your impact on at least one of these. Expressing accomplishments backed up by data is much more impactful. Using a percentage rather than an absolute number is often a more effective way to express the accomplishment. It also eliminates the risk of sharing confidential information.
  • As most recruiters spend only 7 seconds on a resume, you must grab the reader’s attention with the top 3rd of the resume. Don’t write in third person as it comes across as pretentious or worse, implies that you didn’t write the content (it’s ok to ask for help and get a professional to write your resume, just make sure that it is written in the first person).
  • If the organisations you have worked for are not household names, give a brief description of the organisation and its industry/market sector or include the URL to the company website so that the reader can quickly find out more about it.
  • No fancy fonts or graphics/photos. Despite popular belief, many recruiters do not want to see photos or graphics on resumes. However, I believe that this can be industry specific and, in some cases, minimal and strategic use of graphics can add value.
  • Unless your hobbies are relevant to the job, don’t list them. Again, this can be country specific but if in doubt, I would agree with leaving them out.

The key thing to note is that there is no one-size fits all format for resumes and therefore you should customize and format your resume for requirements specific to the industry and level of job you are applying for.