What Employers Seek in Resumes

The typical employer initially spends about 15 seconds reviewing each resume. If you want to create an outstanding resume, you need to quickly capture the reader's attention as quickly as possible.

The first tip is to put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer and ask, “what type of person and skills do we need for this position.” The best way to answer this is to have a thorough understanding of the employer, its needs, and the responsibilities of the position.

As you’re building your resume, consider the following things the reviewer is seeking when reading your resume for those critical 15 seconds.  


For most positions, the employer is willing to invest in the new employee because they believe the new hire will help make them more money. As such, you are viewed as a potential investment. The best way you can show that you are a worthy investment on your resume is to demonstrate how you’ve already built shareholder value for past employers. Focusing on this, rather than what you want or a description of how you spent your days, will get you recognized. For example, rather than write I’ve been in charge of fundraising for charities, I write I have been instrumental in raising upwards of thirty million dollars for operations, buildings, and student scholarships.

Important details

Be sure to write your resume for the specific position, rather than submitting one that’s generic. Include the name of the prospective employer and the position you’re applying. Be sure to include details you gathered about the company and the position. This will give the reviewer an indication that you took the time to get to know them…thus illustrating your seriousness.


Did I mention the importance of research? Be sure to take time to research the prospective employer and understand the job requirements. Ask yourself if your resume matches the position you’re seeking. If your qualifications don’t match, then either pass on the position or revise your resume so it most closely matches their needs. Good reviewers will catch the mismatch right away. For example, if you’re a biology major applying to be a newspaper photographer, you might not appear to be a good match.

Work experience

Even if you don’t have much experience, the reviewer will look to see if you either have enough experience or if your experience has you prepared to succeed in the position you’re seeking. This goes back to describing accomplishments and the positions you’ve had…even if they were voluntary positions, like leadership involvement with student organizations.

Job instability

As they review your work experience, they’ll look closely at the employment dates for each of your jobs. Reviewers may make assumptions about how you left past jobs and if the same situation might happen if they hire you, because you are an investment. I know I do this. Like me, many recruiters tend to shy away from job-hoppers.


If your resume has a misspelled word or a grammatical mistake, your resume might get tossed out. Be sure to proofread the resume several times over. If necessary, ask a friend to read it. Reviewers like me, read resumes with a red pen. If the resume is marked in red for typos and grammatical mistakes, I throw them aside.

Reviewers look at hundreds of resumes to find the ones they feel give the employer the best fits for the position. They’re selecting those they believe will most successfully carry out the tasks and responsibilities for that particular position. As such, your mindset should not be to simply inform the reviewer, yet to sell and showcase your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Thanks and be sure to remember what employers seek when reading your resume.