Resume Writing – What Do Hiring Managers Look For in a Resume?

How many times has this happened? You see that perfect position so you put together a resume and send it off with the hopes of getting a call back for an interview. You wait and wait but no one calls so you scratch your head and wonder what you could have done better. Your well-intentioned friends or family members may try to convince you to believe that the position was already filled or that the company hired internally. Although these scenarios are viable possibilities, it’s more likely that your resume simply does not reflect what employers want.

So how do you get more calls for interviews?

You have to understand what hiring managers want to find in your resume.

Simply put, they want to find the best candidate with the qualifications and required skill-set for the job.

If you need an electrician to do some work in your house, you won’t pick up the yellow pages and blindly flip through the pages until you find someone who might be qualified. You are more likely to go straight to the “E” section and look up electrical contractors. Then you might narrow it down by using criteria that are important to you (e.g. licensure, years of experience, cost, availability, etc.) Basically, you have a need and you want it fulfilled.

Likewise, while writing your resume you should keep in mind the hiring manager’s main goal: to fill a need. It seems simple, but so many jobseekers seem to make the same mistake by using resumes that are generic without a clear direction or goal. It is extremely important to target your resume to the position you are applying for.

Some Tips for Targeting Your Resume

First, throw out that old objective statement and replace it with a headline followed by a skills summary or a profile.

Here is an example headline and profile for a sales and marketing manager:



Results-delivering senior sales and marketing manager with an exemplary record of leading organizations to exceed plan year over year. Currently lead $50M sales team for multiple product lines as a Regional Sales Manager for [Company Name]. Adept in developing and executing strategies that increase market share and generate record-breaking sales. Strong relationship-building skills, known for securing crucial partnerships with…


As you can see, it is unmistakable what this jobseeker is looking for and what unique qualifications he or she has to offer a potential employer.

Once you get that part of your resume under control, make sure you are using industry keyword phrases throughout your resume.

Caution: Don’t go overboard with keywords because you may give the impression that you are fluffing your resume or “keyword stuffing” if you over do it.

Here are some example keyword phrases for the same sales and marketing manager:

client relationship management strategic alliance building negotiations and deal structuring customer acquisition marketing strategies key account management and retention P&L management brand development and management collateral design and development

Tip: A good method to find your own keywords for your industry is to take them right out of the job ads. Go to indeed.com and type in the kind of job you are looking for and check out several ads. Write down they key phrases that repeatedly appear.

Once you learn to write your resume around what employers want, you will significantly improve your odds at getting a called for interviews.

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