What Hiring Managers Look for in a Resume

A colleague suggested I chat with a more junior person about his job search. I'm trying, but I'm having trouble understanding what this guy does. His resume is too long and doesn't have what I need in it. I don't think he's alone, so here's what hiring managers look for on a resume.

  1. Your address. Yes, the hiring manager wants to know if you're local. An email address is not enough. You need a street address and phone number also.
  2. Where have you worked? I want to see the companies, and under the companies, the projects that you've worked on. Don't overwhelm me with the number of projects you've worked on.
  3. What value have you added to the project? What did you accomplish? Don't tell me you reviewed documents or code so that you could understand the requirements. Everyone does that. What unique value did you add?
  4. Do not list every single language you ever studied in school, every operating system, every database, every variant of every operating system unless that is somehow material to the job. Honestly, do you really want me to test you on the C++ or the Smalltalk or the Lisp or Forth or the Algol (does anyone learn that anymore?) or PL/1 or Fortran you once learned. Don't tempt me. I will.
  5. You have two pages to catch my attention. If you have a resume longer than 2 pages, I might not throw it out, but a bunch of my colleagues will. Especially if you have less than 20 years of experience. That means that #3, describing the value you've added to a project is critical.
  6. Ask someone to review your English (or whatever language you are writing in) if you are not a native speaker of the language.

When I see a resume of more than 2 pages from a person with fewer than 15 years of experience, I generally put it in the No pile. That's because the candidate is not attempting to show me good judgement about their accomplishments.

You have maybe 30 seconds to catch a hiring manager's attention. Don't waste the hiring manager's time. That means you need to spend the time writing a great resume. You spend the time so the hiring manager will spend theirs.

If you think you need more guidance, read Louise Fletcher's blog. She helps people write resumes for a living.

5 Replies to “What Hiring Managers Look for in a Resume”

  1. I don’t recommend to put street address on the resume. Typically you don’t really know the person who you sending the resume to. So, you are leaking your private information (your street address) to a stranger. Not good.
    It’s ok to specify City, State, Postal Code though.

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