Five Items Hiring Managers Look for in Resumes: How to Make the Cut

Whether you're currently looking for a job or are satisfied in the job you have, you should always keep your résumé updated. You never know when the perfect new opportunity might come along for you, and you want to have your most important marketing tool on hand when it does.

In today's tight job market, it is more important than ever to be sure that your résumé speaks directly to the hiring manager reading it. You want to highlight your skills and achievements in ways that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.

What is it that hiring managers are looking for? In a recent DBM survey we asked them that very question; and to help you be more successful in your next search, here are the top five points hiring managers are looking for in your résumé:

  1. Relevant skills. Hiring managers today want to know the skills you have that make you the most qualified candidate to fill the position. Be sure to highlight your skills by qualifying and/or quantifying how you used them to be successful in the past. Your skill set is what defines your marketability - be sure you represent it clearly - and accurately - on your résumé. Also remember to mention any specific licenses or certifications you have that are important for the position you are seeking.
  2. Functional experience. What have you done in the past that relates to the position for which you are applying? Hiring managers want to know that you are prepared to handle situations that might arise within their own organizations, and that you have been successful in dealing with them in the past. Look at the job description and duties that are described for the new position and speak directly to those responsibilities in reflecting on your experiences at past employers.
  3. Employment history. Who have you worked for in the past? One reason this information is important to hiring managers is in determining your professional culture preferences and fit within their organization's culture.
  4. Industry experience. Having industry experience is important to hiring managers; however, it is not necessarily a deal-breaker if you do not. If you can demonstrate on your résumé that you understand the industry challenges and dynamics, by noting successes you've had in solving problems like the ones they face, you have a good chance of overcoming this hurdle initially. Remember the goal of your résumé is to secure an interview, not to completely convince the manager to hire you - you'll have a chance to demonstrate even further during the interview process the transferability of your skills.
  5. Measurable accomplishments. Hiring managers want to know how you have contributed to the success of your previous employers. Even if your entire department had a bad year, they want to see that what you did was better than the average - and that you made a positive contribution to the company. Use specific metrics to define your accomplishments, and when applicable tie in dollar figures and/or percentages.

While your previous job titles and location are interesting to hiring managers, they are not among the top five points they look for in résumés. If you focus on the information above, you will have a very good chance of making it to the next round of their process - the interview.

Your résumé is meant to catch the eye of the hiring manager, and make him or her say, "I'd like to meet this person. He or she might be a good fit for this position." By addressing the issues they look for most carefully, you will have a much better chance of success.