The Top 4 Things Employers Want to See on Your Resume

By My Perfect Resume

Plunging into a new job search can be thrilling and terrifying--we've all been there! But with the proper preparation and documents, you'll climb out of the job board chasm (hopefully, sooner than later) and into an exciting new job opportunity. The key to landing your new role starts with a strong foundation--we're talking about your resume, of course.

As a professional first introduction, your job search lives and prospers by the contents of your resume. Most recruiters and hiring managers spend as little as six seconds glancing at resumes. Six seconds! So, how do you determine what employers want to see on your resume? How do you create a compelling document that leads to those crucial interviews? 

First things first--take a deep breath. With the following tips and guidelines, you'll hit the mark on all of the things that employers want to see on your resume. Let's dive into the construction of the perfect resume.

  1. The Crucial Basics

This one's pretty straightforward. Do you have all of the information that a recruiter needs to sum you up, quickly? When you write your resume, employers want to see the following:

  • A header section, with your name and contact information
  • A Skills section
  • A Work Experience section, with details on your current and previous jobs, and their quantifiable achievements and day-to-day responsibilities
  • An Education section

Since all employment opportunities are unique, you can add sections to your resume to meet the demands of the job description (for example, a Volunteer section, if a job ad specifically calls for a list of your volunteer gigs). Just be sure to include the previously stated, must-have sections noted in the four bullet points above.

  1. Proper Formatting and Spelling

With multiple applicants to sort through, what stands out? Employers want to see a resume that is well-designed and formatted. A messy eyesore of a resume goes straight into the Ignore pile. Pay attention to the following:

  • Whitespace (too much or too little can be a resume killer)
  • Font choice and color:
    • Stick with a basic, easy-to-read font, like Arial, Times New Roman, or Georgia
    • Use a 12- or 11-point font size
    • Limit your use of color--the only time you should use a color (other than black) is for your name in the header, or perhaps the titles of the different sections of your resume (Work History, Education, etc.). Our recommendation? Stay on the safe side and just use black!
  • Spelling--make sure everything is spelled correctly. Let spell check help you here, but also--put a grammar nerd friend to use, and have them give your resume a review, too!
  • Proper organization of the four must-have resume sections (follow the order of the four bullet points listed under The Crucial Basics above)

If you don't have a design background, or you don't want to risk your future on a tricky layout, consider using a resume builder. Resume builders can take a lot of the guesswork out of resume creation, due to the professionally designed templates they offer, as well as step-by-step writing guidance.

  1. Specific qualifications

You're qualified and hardworking; why aren't you getting interviews? It's possible that you're not tailoring your resume correctly. Most employer these days have applicant tracking systems in place to help weed out unqualified candidates. Keep the following in mind when submitting your resume (and greatly improve your chances of getting your resume past an ATS).

  • Scan the job ad for repeated words, phrases, or responsibilities. These repeated words, phrases, or responsibilities represent important keywords.
  • Customize your resume by focusing on those keywords. Including the noted keywords in your resume will help get your resume into human hands (and past that ATS). Customization also demonstrates that you have the experience needed to do the job, and sends a message to the recruiter that you've thoroughly reviewed the job ad.
  • Never, ever send a generic resume. Every resume you send must be customized to the specific job ad you're responding to.

When you follow the above advice, your resume has a higher chance of landing in the hands of someone with actual hiring power.

  1. Career loyalty

Most employers invest a lot to find and train the perfect candidate/hire--they want a team member who's in it for the long haul. If you have any of the following on your resume, you should consider using the space afforded by your cover letter to shed some light:

  • Short employment periods (less than a year at a particular job/company)
  • Long gaps between jobs
  • Constant "job hopping," or rapid shifting between positions

If you're a freelancer or a frequent short-term contract employee, be sure to mention that in your work experience section. Otherwise, you risk looking like a poor investment.

And if you need help writing an accompanying cover letter? Consider using cover letter examples as a guiding point to get you started.

As long as you take these tips and guidelines into consideration, you'll create a resume that employers want to see. Best of luck!


My Perfect Resume
 offers resume templates, plus top-to-bottom guidance on how to write a resume (among many other things). Stop by today, and get your career search on the fast track!