What Employers Should Really Be Looking at on Resumes

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With thousands of applications coming in everyday, the HR department doesn’t have time to read each resume and cover letter thoroughly. In a matter of just a few seconds, the hiring manager typically decides whether an applicant should be placed in the yes or no pile. The quality of the company’s incoming employees depends greatly on the hiring committee’s ability to competently assess each applicant.

In order to save you time and effort, here are the 4 most important things employers should look for when reviewing resumes.

Good Communication Skills

Regardless of the job or the position, a good set of communication skills is required from any applicant. The resume serves as the individual’s initial introduction to the company, and should reflect his or her communication skills.

Attention to details such as proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation sets a candidate apart from others. A flawlessly written cover letter and resume is indicative of what can be expected when the applicant becomes an employee. If they cannot be bothered to review even the smallest grammatical detail, the same kind of laziness and carelessness can be expected of their work ethic.

Right Qualifications and Skills

Instead of just citing their work history, applicants need to highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to their target job. This way, hiring managers can spot their expertise and easily match it to their job listings. Employers should be on the lookout for tailored resumes in which applicants meet at least 75% of the qualifications they asked for. Smart candidates should lay out these skills and accomplishments in easy-to-read sentences and bullet points.

Employers would also benefit prioritising candidates who not only have long years of work experience, but also those that took the time to have them recognised. Applicants who took an effort to have their skills assessed through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), for example, affirm their dedication to their craft and their pursuit of success. It also shows the candidate’s initiative to learn and their resourcefulness to expand their professional growth.

Career Progression


When browsing through resumes, employers should take note of the applicant’s work history and how it progressed or deteriorated. If a candidate’s resume shows evidence that their job titles and job description have grown more responsible over the years, it is a sign that their career has progressed continuously. But evidence of the contrary, one that reflects a decrease in responsibilities, shows that the applicant’s career may have gone backwards. Employers should also be cautious about a candidate’s employment gaps, or those missing periods in between jobs when the applicant did not work. The applicant must be able to explain the reason behind these gaps through the cover letter or through a brief interview in person or over the telephone.

Strong Online Presence

Aside from just looking at what is stated in the resume itself, hiring managers can also check on an applicant’s digital footprint to get to know the prospective candidate better. In this modern age, having an online profile for job seekers is as important as having your own social security number. A strong online presence helps hiring managers know more about the candidate’s character and personality. Maintaining smart Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles is also indicative of a candidate’s ability to multi-task and stay connected with the latest trends. Employers should prioritise applicants with social media savvy skills because they can adapt easily with today’s ever changing digital landscape.

A resume contains an applicant’s weaknesses and strengths. It provides the company a glimpse into the person’s characteristics and can give an insight to how he is a potential employee. But with a number of resumes being sent their way, the HR department cannot set an interview with all applicants. They need to find an efficient way to assess the resumes, in order to make sure they get the best pool of employees possible. Giving importance to the applicant’s communication skills, career history, skills and online presence can help employers decide faster whether an individual is a good fit for their company or not.

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Jeremy Kaplan

A 50-something year old lifestyle, career, and education blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Years of experience in the office setting working with others and still loving it year-after-year.

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