Thursday, December 17, 2009

3 Things Your Next Employer Will Search For On Your Resume

Ever submit a resume and wondered why you didn’t even get a call, when you felt that you were ideal for the job? Ever felt that your resume was buried in a database and not even getting seen?

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Chances are your resume didn’t demonstrate the 3 things an employer looks for on a resume. Even in the prescreening process (databases, recruiters and HR staff) are instructed to search for these 3 things, by the keywords they search for.

If you can clearly present these three things in your resume, you give yourself a much greater chance of scoring an interview. But what are they?

Can the candidate solve the specific top problems I have today: An employer is searching for evidence that you can solve their unique top problems. The best way you can demonstrate that you can solve their top problems is by clearly demonstrating that you’ve already solved those exact problems. Most resumes do a poor job answering this question, as most candidates create resumes that demonstrate general problem solving skills rather than solving the unique top problems a specific employer has today.
  • Do your research to find out the specific problems, challenges, and goals a company has today (See: 4 Killer Ways to Use Research)
  • Do more research to determine how those corporate challenges, problems, and goals affect the department and hiring manager
  • Don’t just list broad industry skills, hoping it meets your target’s needs
  • Don’t just say that you can learn – Beyond entry level jobs, few companies will pay you for training or ramp-up time when they can find plenty of candidates who won’t need training (See: Interview Road kill - “I Haven’t Done it, but I Can Learn”)

Can the candidate build shareholder value: Outside of the non-profit world, a company is willing to pay an employee because they believe you will make them more money than they pay - You are an investment. The best way you can demonstrate that you’re a profitable investment is to demonstrate how you’ve already built shareholder value for past employers and clients. Most candidates forget this notion, writing a resume that focuses on what they themselves want (See: Egocentric resume) or a resume that describes how they spend their day (responsibilities based resume).
  • Do your research to find out the type of value likely to be important to this specific company, department and manager (See: Guerrilla Job Search Tactics)
  • Demonstrate your value in numerical results or percentages (See: Do You Create Employer Value?)
  • Translate your accomplishments to shareholder value
  • Claim responsibility
  • Don’t emphasize responsibilities
  • Don’t emphasize your past companies accomplishments over your specific achievements

Will the employee fit in with the company’s culture: While this is really answered during the interview, your resume gives clues about how you’ll fit in with the company’s culture. But because these clues are so limited because you’re not there in person, they typically only serve as disqualifiers rather than qualifiers.
  • Learn as much as you can about a company’s culture before applying for a position (See: 6 Ways To Become the Top Dog Before Your Interview)
  • Be who you are, rather than trying to present a different persona (See: Job Search Trick or Treat)
  • Do research to find companies and positions who will value an employee with your personality
  • Don’t fight ageism - embrace it
  • Don’t waste your time - If you’re not a culture fit, apply somewhere else

So look closely at your resume…better yet have someone else look closely at it. Instead of asking the generic “What do you think?” ask your reviewer to view your resume as a specific targeted employer would and lay out the background details.

Then ask…Does your resume clearly answer the employer’s 3 basic questions?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".


Related Articles:
Manuscript vs. Machine: republished from TheLadders
Additional resources - Resume

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1 comment:

Amnon I. Govrin said...

Phil, your posts are always interesting and insightful.

Amnon I. Govrin