Hiring Managers And Recruiters
Every sincere job-seeker comes armored with an eye-catching resume. Or so he thinks.
But did you know that hiring managers and recruiters look for specific factors to catch their eye? While a resume is certainly your ticket to that dream job, it also helps to understand what hiring managers and recruiters expect and want to see, so you catch that job faster. In a sense, your resume serves as a special “code” to grab the attention of the right hiring managers and recruiters, so both of you can quickly move on to your next job. This post helps you demystify that code.
Here, we outline to you 8 straightforward strategies to use while building your resume. They will help you present yourself authentically so your job search yields quick and effective results.
8 Important Things That Hiring Managers and Recruiters Look for in a Resume
Don’t indulge yourself with a glowing tribute
It’s ironic that we begin with a “Don’t,” but this is important enough to capture right at the top.
We all love to talk about ourselves, our strengths, our glorious attributes, our passions, blah, blah and more blah. (This is universally true. We either harbor this desire in secret or share it out in the open). So given half a chance, we’d all jump at using our resume as a platform to showcase our glory.
Do not let your resume become an indulgent tribute to yourself. This is where you sprinkle your resume with lofty (yet wishy-washy) words like “superior communication” or “team player” or “self-driven” or “attention to detail”, etc. that sound nice on paper, but prove nothing. Coz this is the first thing hiring managers and recruiters look for: proof of your professional worth.
Hiring managers and Recruiters do not look for “niceness” or personal glory, they look for facts and tangible details that showcase you as a must-have asset to the hiring company. So let this be the only focus of your resume.
Tailor your resume for the perfect job you seek
Do you think you craft the perfect resume, and that in turn wins you the perfect job? We hope not, as it’s actually the job (you seek) that crafts your resume.
You’ll be amazed at the number of “good-looking” resumes that are all over the place, and yet consistently fail in landing their owners the perfect job. This is because neither the resume nor its owner is focused on landing that perfect job!
When hiring managers and recruiters look up your resume, he has but one important question at hand: “Can YOU do this specific job perfectly right?” Your resume should powerfully confirm this leaving no room for doubt.
To address this, begin by seeking thorough clarity on this “perfect” job.
- What does it look like? (Title, position, the area of business, geographical location, etc.)
- What educational background, technical skills, niche skills, achievements, etc. do you have that support this perfect job with this particular company?
- Lastly, why should the hiring managers and recruiters choose you (among the hundred other equally qualified folks)? What do “extras” you bring to the hiring company, in terms of value to their business and revenue? (This could be past experience in their niche area of business, your strong belief and shared the passion with the hiring company’s vision, etc.)
Once you have this clarity in place, draft your resume to capture this so the hiring managers and recruiters are undeniably sure that you are indeed the best person for that job.
One trick to use here is to work backward from your dream job. Scan a couple of ads for this perfect job, and analyze the common elements their hiring managers and recruiters look for; this is what you need towing that job. When you address your resume with this mental space, you will more easily highlight the right education, achievements, skills, and experiences you have that will strongly urge the hiring managers and recruiters to recruit you.
Strengthen your resume with the right skills
Yes, skills: that tangible asset that cannot be faked. This is what your employer wants (and needs) to run his business and make money. And this is what the hiring manager responsibilities are to look for in a perfect match. So this is what you will highlight right to catch the hiring manager’s eye.
Here, be as thoroughly detailed as possible. So if you’re a programmer at heart, don’t just say “great programming skills”; this sounds vague and will hence attract a job that is only vaguely close to your perfect job!
Instead, drill down the important details…
- Advanced Java-certified web programmer with 3+ years of experience delivering applications and Java services using applets, OR
- Systems Engineering programmer with advanced grasp (4+ years of experience) of Unix, Python, Ruby and Perl scripting, OR
- Android programmer with the advanced grasp of Android SDK (versions 6 and 5), UI design principles and cloud message APIs, with experience delivering Android applications for mobile “touch” phones for 3 years, OR
Aren’t you better impressed? The hiring manager responsibilities will be, too!
Again, don’t forget the old trick of working backward. Look up a few job descriptions of your perfect choice of career so you’re clear on the common must-have skills these jobs require. Then, list them if you have them. This will ensure that you do not clutter your resume with unnecessary information (like mentioning your writing skills for an over-the-counter sales job).
Finally, a note on capturing the right skills: depending on your choice of career and the position you seek (junior, intermediate, senior leadership, etc.), your job will need a few “technical” skills (like programming languages, tools, areas of business, etc.) and a few “general skills” (like financial planning, leadership, written communication, etc.). Highlight both appropriately as best suited to the job you seek. Here, it also helps to list the relevant experience with each skill, so the hiring manager responsibilities are doubly sure of the authenticity of your resume.
Bring attention to your achievements
Achievements are a great way to highlight (to the hiring manager responsibilities) the awesome work you do. So feel free to bolster your resume with achievements related to the roles you’ve played.
The achievements you list have to be:
- Factual (but of course).
- Well beyond the ordinary. (Don’t mistakenly list down common expectations from your role as your achievements).
- Relevant to your current role.
For example, if you’re seeking a programming job, then, by all means, highlight that instance where you successfully tripled the speed of an existing application by adding a few clever lines of code. Further, if you’ve received appreciation from the client for your contribution, capture this too to re-iterate the authenticity and value of your achievement. But what you should not do is list unrelated achievements like that big win at a drama club or your moderate success as a self-published author (unless these too are mighty relevant to your job).
On the same vein, also remember to keep the bar high. So the fact that you consistently deliver high-quality, bug-free code on time is not an achievement but a reasonable expectation from a programmer’s job.
One rule of thumb to use is to ask this question: “Is this achievement big enough, and relevant to the (perfect) job I seek?” If your answer is a firm, “YES,” you can add it to your resume with confidence.
Highlight your awesome attitude
By listing your skills, experience, and achievements, you’ve confirmed your technical fitness for the job. (Can you do this specific job, perfectly right?) The next item to consider is your mental fitness for the job. (Will you do this specific job, perfectly right?) As you may have guessed, this is all about your attitude.
Let’s consider a bit of role-play here. You’re passionate about this job. You know that you have the knowledge, the expertise and the willingness to do it right. But if you were the hiring manager, what single attitude (of the candidate) would encourage you to unquestionably choose him or her? (This answer may even come to you in the job description.) Highlight this attitude in your resume.
Again, don’t give them mere words, show them proof.
- If that aggressive Sales Manager job requires you to stay cool under enormous pressure, give them at least 2-3 examples where you successfully demonstrated this in the past.
- If (niche) business knowledge and experience is crucial to the job, highlight explicit examples of how you used this specific business know how to your employer’s profit in the past.
- If the Program Manager role requires solid decision-making skills, show them you have the courage to take tough decisions quickly and make them work.
Every bullet item should unequivocally resolve that question in the hiring managers mind: Can and Will you do this specific job superbly right.
Don’t forget your “passion projects”
We all should have them, the projects that bring the zing back into our work!
Passion projects are a great way to showcase your… professional passion! They reflect your attitude, interests, special areas of focus (where you’re unapologetic about going the extra distance) and more. And this is what turns you from a “nice-to-have-employee” into a “must-have-right-now-employee”. So showcase them by all means, but pick them right.
For instance, perhaps you have a strong interest in volunteering to the community, and your last passion project was at a relief camp, coordinating the delivery of food packages. Don’t make the mistake of capturing this as a glorified (but irrelevant) line in your resume.
- Passion for volunteering with non-profit organizations, OR
- Volunteered for 3 months at the Hudson relief camp (2012).
Instead, capture it such that the hiring manager appreciates this passion and connects it to your work expertise. Again, this may present an awesome opportunity in your resume for 3 reasons:
- The recruiting company is known for its commitment to the community.
- The volunteering stint was under hostile weather conditions, where your job was to coordinate between multiple services to ensure that the food packages reach on time. Thanks to your professional expertise (an organized project manager who can keep cool under pressure), you were able to wing this with ease.
- The lessons you learned from this volunteering stint further strengthened your professional expertise (explain how).
Make this connection doubly obvious in your resume.
Get comfortable with multiple resumes
If you’ve been carefully following the tips in this post, you’re sure to wonder, “How in the world do I get all of this right in one resume, so it addresses multiple jobs?”
The single mistake most job-seekers make is to draft a general resume that addresses multiple needs. But as you can now see, this gives you little room to address the specific needs of the hiring manager for that perfect job.
But of course, there is always more than one “perfect” job. Likewise with your resume!
- Your search for the “perfect” project manager job may end with a Construction company that requires you to closely coordinate and manage multiple departments on site. Or it may lead you to a corporate job overseas, coordinating and managing onshore and offshore teams.
- Your diverse programming skills are strong enough to work in favor of that Technical Architect role, as you have the depth-of-knowledge to handle multiple applications. Or you could choose to highlight just one skill for that niche role.
You get the drift.
Each job you apply for could potentially end “the perfect job”, and hence deserves its own perfect resume. So let every resume you submit be carefully drafted and tailored to win the specific job that resume seeks. This will give you room to highlight the right stuff related to it (skills, achievements, your interest and connection with the hiring company’s vision and ideas, etc.).
Choose credibility over glory, always
Our final tip is the most straightforward: maintain your credibility in every line of your resume with actual facts.
Today, companies invest in their (star) employees for the long haul. Hiring managers know this. And this investment begins with a factual assessment of your resume’s credibility and authenticity (with a background search, through references, etc.).
At no point should you feel inclined to exaggerate your worth, no matter how irrelevant you think it is? (So if you’re pursuing an off-campus MBA and will graduate in 1 month, don’t sell yourself as an MBA graduate already). This will only put a severe damper on your credibility and ruin your job prospects in the long haul.
To reiterate, every line from your resume can (and most likely will) be factually verified by the hiring managers. Know this, and respect this.
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