Three Things Employers are Looking for in Resumes in 2018

2018 is almost here! Hard to believe, but another hiring cycle is about to start, and it’s time to tune up your resume and get it up to date with the latest standards. We’ve talked to several recruiters across healthcare, finance, marketing, B2B, and engineering/construction industries, and we’ve gathered a few of the key things employers look for that makes resumes stand out. This list is our compilation of “general advice” applicable to almost any resume – in our follow-up posts to this we’ll give you the insights from the recruiters of each industry and the specific things they look for during the hiring process.


1. Strong Aesthetic


By and large, a resume’s visual layout is the most valuable way it can differentiate itself – it can make an employer either cringe or gaze in amazement. Attractive fonts, good visual spacing, and the right design can dramatically improve a first impression before a reader even has time to read the written content and process it. This happens because human beings are hired-wired for emotional responses to visual content, and less so to logical processes that require higher level thinking. Of course, your reader will eventually have to get to the written content as well and truly think about it, but it’s much better that they do so starting from a positive reaction.

Take a look at some of the best resume templates to get an idea of what a strong aesthetic looks like:

Design 1

Design 2

Design 3


2. Skip the Paragraph Summary – Unless it’s Truly Unique

Readers want the quick low-down on your skills and competencies, and typically the big lengthy first paragraph is an eyesore and a chore to read that misses this objective. Furthermore, most people write their paragraph summary in a generic way that does nothing to stand out from the pack and is full of meaningless fluff statements. Statements like “proven leader” or “hard worker” are both subjective and not provable, which renders them meaningless. Employers will look right through this.


3. Instead, Lead with Your List of Skills

For any serious job with an actual hiring team and a rigorous hiring protocol, it should be a guarantee that you can communicate well, work hard, work well with others, and be a team player. So instead of putting these “soft skills” into a paragraph statement, create a bulleted list that lists out stronger technical skills and unique attributes that fit the job descriptions you’re shooting for. Replace “works well with others” with “Team Building and Leadership”, and you already have something that other people aren’t providing.


Beyond these 3 points, the job history content does need to be strong – which we will discuss in a later post. But it is important to know that these are 3 key areas where candidates often undersell themselves or simply botch their presentation.

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