What are today’s hiring managers looking for in resumes?

Nolan Gray Staffing

Finding the right person for a job can be a long, labor-intensive process, especially in fields that suffer from skills shortages. In a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management half of organizations that reported struggling with finding new hires in 2016 blamed the difficulty of finding individuals with the necessary experience. Recruitment and staffing agencies simplify hiring, but professionals need a clear understanding of how to spotlight the kind of background hiring managers want to see in a resume.

The skills, experience and personality traits that make an employee successful change over time. Fortunately, staffing professionals can give candidates an advantage if they have a strong awareness of what businesses need and the right tools to present a resume in the best light. Here's what hiring managers are searching for in job applicants and how staffing experts can help:

Customized points
Hiring managers are far more interested in resumes that are customized for the particular position than generic ones that can serve for any job. Jobseekers and staffing professionals must consider what background will be most relevant to the particular job and make a person stand out. For starters, an up-to-date list of proficiencies that leaves out the basic software programs every potential hire probably knows, such as word processing, will yield better results.

"Hiring managers are more interested in customized resumes."

Human resources expert Rebecca Barnes-Hogg explained to US News & World Report that references to the precise skills and experience mentioned in the posting bolster the applicant's chances of an interview. Reading the job description closely and doing a little research can provide insight into the company's hiring practices, giving hints for how to grab a manager's attention most effectively.

"What I really need to know is what you have that I need – and it should immediately jump out at me," Barnes-Hogg said. "Highlight the skills and experience I asked for in my job posting. I have about 20 seconds to scan your resume and find the information I need. Don't make it hard."

Drawing keywords from the ad also helps a candidate to stand out, especially when the business or recruiter uses an applicant tracking system to search through resumes. This is an important consideration when deciding what experiences and skills to spotlight. Wording these items in the right way could make a huge difference in determining whether a jobseeker moves on to the next stage.

Specific accomplishments
It's not enough for candidates to have some training in a field. Employers want to see they have the ability and commitment to get tangible results in the workplace. By explicitly stating past accomplishments, an applicant shows off what makes him or her uniquely suited to the position.

The most attractive jobseekers are the ones who have decisively met serious business challenges and emerged with positive, quantifiable results. Inc. noted certain verbs that can make a resume far more effective, such as:

  • Created.
  • Achieved.
  • Improved.
  • Resolved.
  • Mentored.

Each of these words can lead into a concrete statement of what an employee contributed to making a company run better and helping other workers. When enumerating these achievements, however, an applicant can still hurt the cause by falling into jargon and cliches. According to Ladders, some words and phrases to avoid are:

  • Best of breed.
  • Synergy.
  • Detail-oriented.
  • Results-driven.

These terms and others like them don't tell hiring managers much about the candidate's skills or the qualities that make him or her different from others. Worse, they might just get on the reader's nerves. A focused list of accomplishments will do the job, and especially when combined with a social recruiting strategy, provide plenty of information for the manager to make a decision.

JobscienceProperly formatting a resume can make a huge difference.

Simple formatting
Hiring managers have many resumes to go through, and they don't have the time or inclination to closely scrutinize a poorly formatted document. Keeping the resume straightforward and tailoring the content and appearance to the reader's needs can, in turn, make the applicant seem considerably more interesting. The Muse provided a few pointers, like putting the most relevant experience or training first. Choosing a font that's easy to read and leaving some white space makes the page more pleasant to look over while helping to narrow the contents down to the points that matter.

Staffing software assists with presenting candidates in a simple, clear and appealing manner. By providing hiring managers with resumes in a standardized, easy-to-scan format, a staffing professional eliminates problems like tiny fonts or poorly arranged margins. A software solution can also make it easy to insert corrections or redact specific words or information as necessary to give the applicant the best chance of landing the job.

Staffing and recruitment agencies make the connections between exceptional candidates and great careers. To get there, however, jobseekers need informative, thoughtfully formatted resumes that will capture the interest of hiring managers. With expertise and the right recruitment software, staffing professionals ensure employers find what they're looking for.