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What HR Managers Are Looking for on Your Resume


When you apply for a job, Human Resource Managers are some of the first people to see your resume. What they see could make or break your chances of landing an interview. They are the gatekeepers who decide which resumes a hiring manager will see.

What do they look for on a resume? A recent survey by CareerBuilder has provided some insight.

Most Have Caught Lies on a Resume

Candidates know they need their resume to stand out. But some have taken it too far by embellishing their skills and experience. According to the survey, 75 percent of HR Managers have caught a lie on a resume. Some of the more outrageous lies HR Managers shared in the survey were:

  • An applicant claimed to have written computer code the hiring manager had actually written. Both had the same previous job, but the applicant did not know that fact.
  • Applicant said he worked for Microsoft but had no idea who Bill Gates was.
  • Applicant’s resume was lifted from the Internet, did not match the cover letter.
  • Applicant said he studied under Nietzsche.
  • Applicant claimed to be an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA at the same time he was in elementary school.
  • Applicant falsely claimed to have a PMI credential when applying for a job at PMI (the organization that grants that credential).

How Long Do They Look?

Depends on who you ask. But it is clear from all the research that applicants have mere seconds to make an impression. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 39 percent of HR Managers spend less than a minute initially looking at a resume. Nineteen percent spend less than 30 seconds. Another study by TheLadders found that employers spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume.

What to Include to Land an Interview

It’s clear that, if you want to move forward in the interview process, you shouldn’t lie on your resume, but you need to stand out. Here are five things HR Managers say you can do to stand out and catch their attention:

60% – Customize your resume to the position

Recruiters and hiring managers can recognize a generic resume every time. You should customize your resume for each job application using keywords from the job posting.

38% – Include a cover letter

A cover letter is one of the most important aspects of any job search. Cover letters are the first thing that many hiring managers see and can create a positive first impression that encourages an employer to read your resume. Your cover letter shouldn’t be a regurgitation of your resume. Instead, a cover letter is your chance to tell the hiring manager about the skills you have that make you the best candidate for the position.

37% – List skill sets first on your resume

Include a bulleted list at the top of your resume listing key skill sets that make you the best fit for the job.

23% – Address your application to the specific hiring manager

Do some research to find out who the hiring manager is and address your cover letter or application to that person. Speaking directly to the hiring manager personalizes your application and shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.


Need Help Getting an Interview?

Contact Burchard & Associates. We’ve helped countless job seekers in the St. Louis area find employment with some of the area’s most respected employers. Search our available jobs and contact us today to start your job search.


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