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What Employers Look for in a Resume


To be in with a chance of a job interview, your resume must attract the reader's attention within a few seconds. Recruiters and hiring managers sometimes receive hundreds of applications for one position and often only have time to review the resumes before they decide whether they want to speak to the candidate.

Make an impression

To make an impression immediately, your resume should present the following information as concisely and legibly as possible:

  • Functions and responsibilities - You must write your resume for each job you're applying for. It's essential that the job titles and responsibilities in your resume are relevant to (if not directly related to) the job being offered. Although you must of course explain your powers, it's important that your resume offers more than a list of responsibilities.
  • Experience - Your resume will be scanned for the right kind of experience. Make sure that your experience - whether it's six months in one job or four years in another - is relevant to the job you're applying for. Be clear about your added value and your precise contribution to any leading projects.
  • Skills - Make sure you put all relevant skills that you have used in your previous positions and gained in your resume. Your skills complement your experience and must prove that you're suitable for the job being offered.
  • Results and performance - Recruiting managers love results, so if, for example, you have exceeded your targets as a sales manager, it's important to display these targets as amounts or percentages and to demonstrate how you have exceeded them.
  • Training - Ensure that you emphasize relevant training and certificates, specially if these are identified as essential or desirable in the job requirements.

Once you have the details in order, your resume should look neat and read quickly to catch the recruiting manager or recruiter's attention quickly and effectively. Pay attention to the following details:

  • Easy to read - Make sure your resume layout is clear and consistent with a single font (you can use bold letters to emphasize things). Use bullet points instead of long sentences to emphasize skills, achievements, responsibilities, etc.
  • No inconsistencies - Make sure your resume runs in reverse chronological order, with no unexplained gaps in the timeline or inconsistencies in the responsibilities or achievements you mention.
  • Relevant use of language - Ensure that you use key words throughout your resume that are immediately recognizable. Avoid too much jargon and bear in mind that the person reading your resume may not be a technician or expert in your field. This person will know what to look at.
  • Document type and name - Make sure that the document with your resume can be easily opened by the recipient. Nobody wants to download software to open a resume. Also make sure that your own name is in the name of the document, for example: Smit, Jan-resume.

You may have all the skills and expertise required for a particular job, but if you don't state this clearly in your resume, you may not even pass the first selection round for the job you applied for.

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