Two hiring managers looking at a resume copy


Your resume is the unique code that gets you a ticket to the interview room; unfortunately, hiring managers often need more time to review and sift through hundreds of resumes to find the most qualified candidate. To make your resume stand out, you need to understand what hiring managers look for in a resume. In this article, we outline what hiring managers look for on a resume so that you can prepare for the interview.

What do Hiring Managers Look for When Reviewing Resumes?

Employers use at least six to ten seconds to review a resume due to the volume received and the time available to review candidate material. However, resume words specific to the job description are some core things hiring managers spot when scanning for readability. These relevant keywords convey that the candidate matches well with the roles, expectations, company culture, and values.

Why is it Important that Hiring Managers Look at your Resume?

Hiring managers are looking for potential value for the company, and the first point of contact they can get to you is via your resume. Although your resume doesn’t give you a complete representation of who you are and what your values are (that’s why the in-person interview is always essential for further communication), it’s still that critical document that can make the first impression since it’s the closest and primary document showcasing your qualifications, skills, and experience. A creative, well-written, result-driven, and tailored resume can help you stand out and get an interview since it contains everything a hiring manager may be searching for in that job position and company. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of hiring managers in recruitment?

In the recruitment process, a hiring manager is responsible for reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and identifying and selecting the best candidates for the job. Other times, they are also driving forces in shaping the company’s workforce and culture, and their hiring decision often influences the company’s performance and profitability. 

What are some things a hiring manager rarely pays attention to?

A hiring manager only pays attention to irrelevant information, such as hobbies and interests, if they are directly related to the job role. They also pay scant attention to fancy formatting and personal information such as age, marital status, pictures, or religious beliefs to avoid bias and discrimination. Hiring managers rarely spend so much time reading through the educational section, except to exclusively recruit MBAs or IT candidates that have gone through CS school. 

How long do hiring managers look at a resume?

Hiring managers generally spend less than 30 seconds looking at a resume, but the time can vary depending on the position and the number of applicants. They tend to scan resumes for relevant qualifications and experience and may spend more time on resumes that stand out. If a resume catches their attention and they find the candidate’s qualifications and experience suitable for the position, they may spend more time reviewing the resume to consider the candidate for the job.

What are some things hiring managers would wish people would stop doing?

Free templates that are not ATS-friendly usually turn recruiters off because it’s often challenging to locate resume keywords relevant to the job postings. We’re no longer in the 1990s, so listing an objective at the top of your resume, writing your resume in the first person, and making your resume a ridiculous amount of pages is so unnecessary. The hiring managers, however, wish candidates would avoid mixing first and third person or present and past tense: instead, they should select a voice, a tense, and then stay with it. Meanwhile, exaggerating titles and responsibilities shouldn’t even be on your resume because, eventually, the truth will come out.

How to know if the hiring manager wants you

If a hiring manager wants you, they’ll reach out to schedule an interview or request additional information. They may also express interest in your qualifications and experience and ask follow-up questions about your skills and background. A hiring manager may also extend a job offer, which is the strongest indication that they want you for the position.

10 Things Hiring Managers Look for on a Resume

In the course of screening candidates, what information does a hiring manager focus on when looking through a stack of resumes on a screen? Well, it varies and also depends on the role for which you’re applying. First and foremost, 85% of hiring managers no longer look through stacks of paper resumes; they only review resumes online. But we’ve highlighted briefly how most hiring managers personally absorb a resume.

1. Name

The first thing a hiring manager sees when they look at your resume is your name, which is part of your personal brand, making it easier for recruiters to remember you. As much as possible, the name you choose to display on your resume should represent what you prefer to identify with as a person. Suppose you have a foreign-sounding name or one that’s particularly tough to pronounce; consider spelling out the pronunciation on your resume or substituting them for a name that people would like to refer to you in the workplace.

In addition, the name of your resume must be consistent across your social media profiles since 94% of recruiters use social media in their recruitment efforts. At the same time, you can drop using suffixes like “Sr.”, “Jr”, “II”, “III”, or a middle initial as well, unless (again) it’s closely associated with your identity. Suppose you also have an advanced degree or certification, such as MD, Ph.D., RN, etc. In that case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should include it alongside your name unless it is relevant to the job.

2. Experience

Hiring managers use your experience to check your qualifications, skills, and career progression. They are interested in the roles and responsibilities a candidate has previously held and how their experience aligns with the job requirements. Additionally, hiring managers to pay attention to candidates’ work history to determine whether they have a stable work history, work gaps, or have hopped from one job to the other. 

3. Skills

More importantly, hiring managers look for skills that candidates have acquired the right skills relevant to the job role. A hiring manager will also check your skill section alongside your experience to see if and how you utilized those skills and the results you got. They also look for transferable skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, or communication skills, that can be applied to various roles. It’s essential to include specific hard skills and platform-based skills throughout your resume to showcase you’re a qualified candidate; then, be sure your bottom skill matches the skills in your resume experiences.

4. Accomplishments/Portfolio

Employers look for the accomplishments section of the resume because this indicates your most notable achievements and shows how your contributions and professional skills impacted your previous workplaces. Any employer likes to see examples of your prior work and accomplishments because it helps them envision the types of assistance you may provide them at their company if hired.

5. Online Presence

As we become globally connected, the world of recruiting is also changing and most times, your second impression (after your resume) is no longer during your interview process but by your online presence. A personal web presence can allow a hiring manager to learn more about a candidate and is often a streamlined way to receive the most up-to-date information about a candidate. 8% of hiring managers push forward for an interview after checking a candidate’s online presence, and 94% use LinkedIn as their social networking tool for recruitment. Having a relevant and working link to your website or social media account like a Linkedin or e-portfolio page makes it easier for the hiring manager to see how the candidate adds value to the industry and can get a sense of the candidate’s professional voice online.

6. Resume Keywords

The trick to getting hiring managers to pay attention to your resume is to use keywords from the job description. Most hiring managers use an ATS system or Command/Ctrl +F to scan resumes for resume keywords that are relevant to the specific job role, skill, experience, and industry mentioned in the job description. At the same time, “stuffing” your resume with keywords can make your resume seem disingenuous or inauthentic. If a hiring manager detects that you have included irrelevant keywords to include them, it will render your resume difficult to read and less clear. This will cause you to appear as if you’re trying to mislead them about your qualifications.  

7. Action Verbs/Impact Words

Action verbs and impact words on a resume are words that describe the specific actions and results that a candidate has achieved in their previous roles, such as “managed”, “developed”, “increased”, and “solved”. These words help demonstrate the candidate’s level of responsibility, initiative, and ability to achieve results and positively impact their previous roles. Using action verbs and impact words can help to make your resume more powerful and effective in communicating your value to a hiring manager.

Check here for a resume and cover letter template Harvard gives her undergrad students 

8. Numbers and Percentages

Hiring managers seek outcomes that include numbers and percentages instead of vague involvement. It is one thing to say that you “AWS Cloud Services” it is another thing to say that you “increased performance by 32% using AWS Aurora to reduce database cost and unnecessary operations while ensuring that database resources remain reliable and available”. Including numbers and percentages on a resume provides concrete evidence of your achievements and results and can help to communicate your qualifications, skills, and experience. 

9. Readability

Hiring managers check for the readability of a resume by looking at factors such as the white spacing, proper format, layout, and language used in the document. A hiring manager typically checks for coherence and consistency in style, language, tone, and formatting. The length of your resume is also a critical point, and most hiring managers prefer candidates to utilize 1-2 pages with 3-4 bullet points to highlight their skills, experience, and value. These small but critical details can help facilitate a more accurate read and indicate the candidate’s ability to sell themselves quickly.  

10. Spelling and Grammar Errors

Hiring managers want to see a professional and transparent resume that flows naturally without careless typos, especially when they consider this is their first impression of you. It’s almost impossible to claim to be detail-oriented or conscientious if you can’t even spell-check your own words. When you’re writing your resume, you can double-check it by using online tools such as or your word processing software, and you can also read through your resume and show it to a colleague or friend to review for typos and grammatical errors.  

To Sum Up

What hiring managers look for on a resume is content applicable to the job description and relevant to the position’s requirements. Using the right resume keyword, format, language, spelling, and grammar are vital points to note. Also, your experience and skill sections should tell a story of how action and result oriented you are. Don’t forget the links to your online presence and portfolio, and highlight your relevant accomplishments. The above are steps you should take to get noticed and to be considered by hiring managers as severe and genuine candidates.

 Good luck, and remember to hunt wisely!

Do you still need clarification about how to write your resume and make it catching to hiring managers? Head on to our candidate page so we can put you on the right track. 

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