8 Resume Tips from a Former Hiring Manager

As a former hiring manager, I’ve combed through hundreds of resumes and cover letters. I’m also the go-to person in my friends and family circle when someone needs help updating theirs.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: your resume is one of the most important documents you will ever own!

It’s true – your resume can be the one thing standing between you and a job you love and your key to a prosperous and exciting future.

That’s why it’s so important to spend time crafting a concise, yet powerful resume that is tailored for the job you want.

Let’s start with the basics.

8 Resume Tips from a Former Hiring Manager:

Resume Tip #1: It’s not about you

Sorry (not sorry) to be so blunt about it, but it’s true. Hiring managers look for employees that have the skills and experience that will add value to their team.

This is actually a huge relief, because it is so much easier to convince the hiring manager to call you for an interview when you’re not sleezy or salesy about your experience.

Understanding this concept allows you to focus on what the company needs and how you meet those needs, instead of focusing on using adjectives to embellish your work history.

Resume Tip #2: Do your research

Now that you know it’s not about you, you need to know what’s important to the company.

Start with the job description or posting. Print it out and highlight keywords, skills, and qualifications that are required of the person in this role.

Use these key terms to review your work history, then match your skills and experience with what the company is looking for.

You want your resume to be sort of a checklist for the hiring manager:

Project management skills? Check.

Customer service experience? Check.

Master’s degree? Check.

Once you’re done with that, head over to the company’s website. Look up their mission, vision and values statements, strategic goals and any pertinent press releases. You’ll need this information to round out your resume and cover letter, and later on in your interview.

Resume Tip #3: Upgrade your format

I’m sure this doesn’t matter to EVERY hiring manager, but personally, if I look at another Word document with fifty bullet points in Times New Roman, I’m going to scream.

The goal is to make your resume STAND OUT. One way to do that is to make it look unlike every other resume the hiring manager is reading.

You can create your own template in Microsoft Word using the suggested format in this guide, or you can invest in a downloadable, editable template from Etsy or Pinterest.

Remember, your resume is one of the most important documents you’ll ever own. Skip a couple Starbucks runs and upgrade your template. (Hint: make sure it comes with a matching cover letter template as well!)

Resume Tip #4: Lose archaic terminology

It’s 2018. No one cares what your “objective” is – and let’s be real. Everyone applying for the job has the SAME objective – to get the job!

Instead, summarize your professional experience and skills at the top of your resume under the header “Summary” or “Professional Profile.”

It’s a great way to showcase your personality, passions and expertise, and gives the hiring manager an instant feel for WHO YOU ARE, not just what you do.

Another redundant phrase is: “references available upon request.”

References are a normal part of the hiring process. The hiring manager will request them at some point. Leave it off your resume, and instead, keep an additional document (in the same format) with your references’ contact information. This way, you’ll be prepared with a polished, professional document when the time comes.

Resume Tip #5: Say a lot without saying a lot

Say what!? The hiring manager does not have time to read through every accomplishment and skill you list in your resume. You need to be as concise as possible, while still sharing your most important achievements.

This format helps to break up heavy text and draws the reader’s eyes to the key points you want to highlight: education, skills, and experience.

Instead of listing every major accomplishment at each of your previous jobs, list your jobs (in reverse chronological order, mind you) and add a 1-2 sentence summary of the work you did. Remember, be concise, but powerful in the language you use. Then, add 2-3 bullet points of specific, quantifiable tasks you want to highlight – and make sure these align with the keywords from the job description.

Boom. You’ve condensed your two-page, bullet-laden resume into a few specific items that highlight the value you will bring to the company.

Resume Tip #6: Make it searchable

Another reason to add the keywords all over your resume is to ensure that it is found if the employer uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). ATS is a software that receives, sorts and stores resumes from every person who applies for each position in the company.

Why does this matter? Because your resume can get overlooked if you don’t use the right format, headers, or keywords the system is designed to look for.

Keep your headers simple, like “Education,” “Experience,” “Skills” to be sure that your resume is correctly formatted in the system, and add keywords to each section.

True story: I was hiring for two positions on my team but not getting a ton of qualified applicants. When I reached out to my HR Business Partner, she uncovered several applications that were moved into a “decline” folder. I went through them anyway and found a few applicants that had the qualifications I was looking for, but used different terminology than what was in the job description.

Lesson: always match your resume to the job description. Always.    

Resume Tip #7: Make it findable

Here’s a pet peeve of mine (and probably most hiring managers): opening ten resume files named “MyResume.doc.” *insert eye roll*

PLEASE don’t make hiring managers rename your file when they save it; make it easy for them to save your file by naming it something like “FirstNameLastNameResume.” And ALWAYS save it as a PDF.

I promise, this will give you major points off the bat, because it shows that 1. you are willing to make life easier for your future manager; 2. you are organized; and 3. you care about the work you produce.

Resume Tip #8: Make it memorable

Hiring managers want to know what you will do for them (remember: it’s not about you.). Make sure you show the value you bring to the table.

How do you know what the company wants? Here’s where that handy information you gathered from the company website comes into play.

Companies exist to make money, to provide a service, or to sell products.

Which of the above describes the company you’re applying to? Think about how you can help them achieve their goals, what skills you will bring to the table, and how they will benefit from hiring you. Then, add that to your summary at the top and in the summaries of your previous positions.

And here’s a bonus tip: PROOFREAD.

I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve read that have typos and grammatical errors. PLEASE, for the love of all that’s fabulous in the world, proofread your resume!

Sometimes it’s hard to see your own mistakes, so have a few friends or family members read through your resume before you hit that submit button.

The Takeaway

Making the time to create a thorough, job-specific resume goes a long way in helping you stand out from the competition.

Download your FREE BE Outstanding Resume Guide to check out the exact format I recommend (and use personally) to land the interview. Bonus – it comes with a cover letter guide too!

BONUS: Take this free quiz and download my free BE Alive Passion + Purpose Workbook to find your perfect career path! If everyone truly lived their passion and purpose, every need in the world would be met. Use the questions and journal prompts in the workbook to inspire you to discover your passion and make a difference in the world.