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  • What Hiring Managers Look for in a Resume

    shutterstock_105651092What is the typical comment made by someone who is currently employed and decides it may be time to investigate other career opportunities? It usually goes something like this, doesn’t it?

    “I am going to dust off my résumé, shoot it out to a few ‘headhunters,’ send it to some online postings and see what happens.”

    If seeking out a new position in 2015 is one of your career goals, and you intend to take this rather lackadaisical—and largely ineffective—approach to your new job search and résumé, then you need to seriously re-think your approach.

    While there may have been a time—long, long ago, it now seems!—when jobs were so plentiful that even a sloppy résumé wouldn’t necessarily eliminate a candidate from further consideration, be advised that those times definitely are over. If you’ve been in your current position for any length of time, you may be surprised to learn that many, many things have changed in the job market, including how to properly prepare a résumé that can get you a shot at an interview for a new job.

    Overall ‘Look and Feel’

    Your résumé could literally be chock full of spectacular career accomplishments designed to capture the attention of virtually any hiring manager, but if it’s notvisually appealing and inviting, it simply won’t be read. Why? Because, on a typical business day, most hiring professionals receive far too many résumés and have far too little time to evaluate them to waste time with résumés that feature a confused (and confusing) design . (For example, our executive recruiting firm, The HTW (“Hire to Win”) Group, receives from 300 to 500 résumés each and every business day!)

    Here are just a few key considerations to keep in mind about the overall graphic design of your résumé:*

    • Make good, effective use of “white space” to guide the reader’s focus to key elements.
    • Use appropriate and variable type sizes, e.g., 10- to 11- point for body copy, 12- to 14-point for major headings, etc., but stick to the same typefacethroughout, e.g., Arial, Times New Roman. Also, it’s all right to use a variety offonts, e.g., Italics, bold, small capitals, but use them sparingly.
    • Use “bullets” or other appropriate typographical symbols to highlight key career accomplishments, duties, etc., as well as to break up large bodies of text.

    Today’s feature-packed word processing programs make it relatively easy for just about anyone with at least some graphic design sense and skill to create a visually appealing, professional-looking résumé. Still, just because you have a vast array of graphic design features at your fingertips that doesn’t mean that you should actually incorporate all (or most) of them in your résumé! For example, avoid using color on typefaces or swatches of color for highlighting. Best advice? Keep it simple and resist the temptation to include “pyrotechnics.”

    Remember: Content is Still King!

    Assuming your résumé is indeed visually appealing and professional looking enough to get the hiring manager’s attention, i.e., it gives a hiring manager “cause for pause,” you’re at least half way to where you want to be! The next order of business is to “deliver the goods” the hiring manager will undoubtedly be looking for, in order to actually move you into serious contention for the position you are seeking.

    What do these “goods” consist of? Detailed information that provides . . .

    • Specific evidence that you have continued to grow with your current employer, by heading up (or being intricately involved in) key projects/programs, etc.
    • Specific evidence that you have made an ongoing, substantive,measurable contribution to your current employer. This evidence should be expressed in dollars (saved and/or earned) and/or percentages (of sales increases, cost decreases, etc.) In other words, you need to show how you have either made your current employer money or saved the company money. Ideally, you would be able to show how you have accomplished both of these goals.

    If you don’t already have such information readily available, then you should start putting together quantitative evidence of how you have contributed—and are continuing to contribute—to your current employer and incorporate it into your résumé. Make a list of your significant achievements and accomplishments . . .

    “Led a manufacturing initiative that resulted in first-year cost savings of 15%, or $2 million; was an integral member of an ad hoc team that successfully introduced a chemical manufacturing process that netted the company $10 million in new annual revenue,” etc.

    Why do hiring managers look for such things in a résumé? Why do they even care what you’ve done or are now doing for your current employer? Simple. They want to have at least some comfort level that you can also be expected to do these same kinds of things for their company, if you turn out to be the candidate of choice.

    Principal Goal of Résumé: To Get an Interview!

    Will a résumé that adheres to the criteria briefly outlined in this post actually get you a new job? No, it won’t. The principal goal of a résumé is to get you that all-important first interview with a hiring manager! After all, if you don’t accomplish that goal, you’ll never be in contention for any position you seek.

    Your initial, primary focus when exploring new career opportunities should be laser-focused on creating a résumé that will accomplish at least TWO things:

    • Get and keep the hiring manager’s attention; and
    • Make him or her want to learn more about you and what you may be able to offer his or her company.

    So, if seeking a new career opportunity is one of your goals for the upcoming new year, go ahead and “dust off” your résumé, but just make sure that, after you’ve “dusted it off,” it then becomes a résumé that can effectively get you where you want to go.


    *I provide a comprehensive examination of how to create a job-winning résumé in“Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed. . . Forever!, Career Stalled? How to Get Your Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve—Your DREAM Job! and in Résumé Writing Made EASY!, which includes SIX easily edited, professionally designed résumé “templates” that you can adapt for your own résumé.


    This post is an excerpt from Career Stalled?, Skip’s latest book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development/Management Publications.

    To check out Career Stalled?, click on this link: Career Stalled? How to Get Your Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve–Your DREAM Job!

    Available NOW in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.com, at special introductory prices!

    Going on a job interview soon? Know someone who is? Download Skip’s FREEHow to ACE the Job Interview!” publication by clicking HERE. Learn how to interview the way Superstars do!

    Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

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