What Employers Want To See In Your Resume And Most People Aren’t Doing It

What employers want to see in your resume.
Your resume must grab an employer’s attention within 20 seconds. A key is that employers want to see your results more than your actions.

Resume Writing is never easy. You must understand how to craft your resume to quickly grab an employer’s attention in 20 seconds or less. Most people make this critical mistake. They write long, drawn-out job descriptions. This revelation came as a surprise to several of the over 50 year olds in my resume writing class.

Jeff spoke up to say, “I’m frustrated. I spend a lot of time going through the employer’s job opening post and make sure I write all about my work to meet everything they ask for. Then, I don’t get an interview. I must be doing something wrong, but what is it?” Wise question. It is not long descriptive work histories employers want to see.

Let’s assume you use the right format and style so your resume can get through the Applicant Tracking System. (For more guidance on this, read this Forbes article Want To Be Noticed By Recruiters? Try This Resume Strategy To Get Through The Applicant Tracking System.)

It’s your accomplishments, your work results, and outcomes that employers want to hear about. Start thinking about how you created something new and what the impact was. Maybe you did something that saved money or saved time. You added a process or system that improved productivity. These are a few of the types of outcomes hiring managers and recruiters want to know about and see on your resume.

Here is the formula to use when you write your work history sentences:


Ask yourself, what was the original problem? What were my actions to solve this issue? What were the results achieved? You are quantifying your accomplishments. Noting if you saved time or money, made money, or created something new. Also, numbers can be very impressive, so try to get the actual amounts saved or a best-guess estimate. You can always discuss the result by using a percentage increase or decrease. Not everything you do can be quantified, but many can. Note what was the most impressive accomplishment at that job and write a results bullet about that.

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Examples of results statements

I reviewed recent resumes that I have written with my clients and pulled out a few examples. I grabbed them from different fields to show how you might write about your accomplishment and note the outcome. Notice how clear it is to understand quickly what the person did, and how their employer benefited from that action.

  • Designed an improved tool that reduced plant installation work. Results saved over 100 hours.
  • Led the team project involving a complex product redesign. Collaborated with numerous stakeholders, tested new designs, finalized solution, and directed the implementation. Results saved $2.5M.
  • Created new change management training course. Taught class to 500+ employees throughout the company.
  • Negotiated contract with supplier that lowered pricing. Results saved over $100,000.
  • Trained 12 new employees on how to use equipment and proprietary software.
  • Contributed to new strategy, processes, programs, and policies that improved employee work culture. Results reduced employee turnover by 40%.
    Directed the cost savings initiative. Sourced new materials and new supply chain for natural materials. Results saved $20M.
  • Established the marketing campaign for new product launch including website copy, SEO, content publishing, and creation and placement of video testimonials.
  • Collaborated with managers to streamline the company’s sales process from start through installation. Made numerous process improvements. Results tripled sales to $30M.
  • Authored a new leadership training manual for first-time managers.

This list may trigger ideas to help you define your results better. Did you make any:

  • Process/System Improvements
  • Productivity enhancement
  • Design Improvement
  • Saved Time
  • Saved $$
  • Made the company $$
  • Developed/Created something new
  • Solved a Key Problem – define problem, solution, and results achieved
  • New program creation
  • Policy improvements
  • Developed new policies
  • Created best practices
  • Improved retention or employee satisfaction
  • Improved work culture

Whenever possible, use #s, %, stats, how much, how many, quantify!

Placement of results in your resume

Under each job you have held, you need to list your most significant accomplishment first. After that statement, post your next most crucial contribution. Repeat this process until you have finished that job role. Some positions will have fewer accomplishments than others. Always begin noting the top result you achieved in that job first.

Some actions, such as creating a new employee handbook, are the accomplishment and do not require any other quantifier. Not everything you do can be quantified. It does help the reader if you add numbers to show how significant a role is. For example, supervised 2 people is a much smaller role than supervised 40 direct and indirect reports.

You can edit and shrink older job histories. Employers care the most about recent work that you have performed in the last 5-7 years. Focus on these experiences the most. Eliminate non-essential work descriptions. Focus on showing the progression and skillset for the level of the job you want now. On jobs over ten years old, only list your most impressive accomplishments.

This article was originally published in Forbes.com.

©2024 Robin Ryan

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Robin Ryan

A career counselor that helps clients land jobs, I offer Resume Writing, LinkedIn Profile Writing, Interview Coaching, and Salary Negotiation services.

I’ve appeared on Oprah, Dr. Phil and over 3200 other TV and radio shows. A Wall Street Journal #1 bestselling author, I have written eight career books including: 60 Seconds & You’re Hired, Retirement Reinvention, Winning Resumes and Over 40 & You’re Hired. Currently I write a careers column for Forbes.com.

Helping people advance their careers and land a new job is my mission.

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