What do Employers Want in a Resume?

Are you challenged by talking about yourself?  Your resume represents you in your absence with the immediate goal of selection for an interview.     Your resume can be compared to a business card.  It narrates your past, outlines responsibilities, and provides clues about your values.  It is a critical document where you need to present yourself accurately and positively without exaggeration.

A chronological resume is the standard format and what employers expect.  A functional resume concentrates on skills that you have used relating to a stated objective rather than on jobs you have held in the past.  It is not appropriate for those with a solid, recent track record.

Given this information, how do you approach the task?  The following short list should help you out.  Employers want…

Facts.  No unanswered questions.  Responsibilities and accomplishments.  Education and certifications.  Professional affiliations.  Relevant specialized skills.  Foreign language proficiency.  Computer literacy.  Military service.  Perfect grammar.

Responsibilities and accomplishments:  List job titles and responsibilities in date order starting with most recent position first.  Explain gaps, such as dates returned to school or sabbatical.  Close each job title entry with accomplishments while you held the position.

Education and certification:  List educational institution, degrees awarded, date, and major.  Include certifications related to the position, such as CPA, CMA, RPE. Note that most HR departments confirm degrees so your information must be accurate.

Professional affiliations:  List professional societies related to your job. If you are an officer, provide details.

Relevant specialized skills:   List those you can perform with little or no direction.

Foreign language:  Specify which language(s) and the level of your reading, writing, and speaking knowledge.  Examples: Basic, Intermediate, Native Fluency.

Computer Literacy:  Include hardware, software, operating systems and proficiency in Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Internet experience.

Military Service:  Include in chronological list of job titles, and note responsibilities and accomplishments.

Some final recommendations—omit salary history unless it is specifically requested in the job announcement; prepare a list of references in advance of the interview in case they are requested, but do not include them on your resume; and remember that a well conceived resume creates interest in you and gives you an advantage in the interview.

The on-line point and click method of application has increased the number of candidates ten fold.  This means the reviewer has little time to hunt for information.  The initial reviewer could even be a computer searching for key words.  Take care to organize the information so the reviewer wants to read on.

This article may be reproduced with attribution to: The Principals of WayFinders Careers.