5 Things You Need to Look for in a Resume

5 Things You Need to Look for in a Resume

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Everyone’s resume is unique. Having to choose to interview one candidate over another based on a piece of paper can be difficult. However, we have 5 things you need to look for in a resume when screening candidates.

On average, recruiters spend 6 seconds or less reviewing a resume. Within those 6 seconds, they will either decide to read further or move on to another resume. How are they able to make a decision that quickly? The simple answer is, they know what to look for. After 14+ years of experience within the staffing industry, we have many tips on how we can decipher good candidates from average candidates. Here are our top 5 things you need to look for in a resume.

Work Experience


The most useful thing to look for in a resume is work experience. The work experience section can be tricky, however, because certain job titles can be too broad for you to know exactly what a candidate does.

Some titles, such as Customer Service Rep, can have widely different objectives across industries. If you see a job title intrigues you, make sure to read the description. We have seen candidates have their role called Marketing Director, but after reading the descriptions of what the role consisted of, they were more of an Entry-Level Marketing Coordinator than anything else. So just make sure not to stop after just seeing the job title. Make sure to read the description.

Now, once you are looking at the job description in a resume, check to see if there are facts, not just fluff. A strong candidate will back up their statements with facts such as “increased social media engagement by 200%” or “decreased time to recruit by 30%.”

An example of fluff would be, “Worked with others to increase productivity.” How did they increase productivity? How much did they increase productivity by? Look for statistics! If there are no statistics, there is probably no way to know how well they did at the position.

Outside Industry Experience


Previous experience within your industry is important but not a deal-breaker. Every candidate doesn’t have to come from the same industry as you work in. Sometimes getting an outsider to come into your industry can help bring a new perspective.

Very often, candidates who are recent graduates will not have any experience within the industry your company is in. However, they may have other experience in past jobs that would help them succeed in your business. An example of this is a candidate applying for your company’s job opening that requires detail-orientation, organizational skills, and problem-solving skills. Let’s say this candidate has 0 work experience within your industry but worked four years in high school as a cook for a local restaurant. More than likely, that candidate needed to be detail-oriented, organized, and a problem solver when working as a cook.

Do not overlook any position. See the skills your job opening needs and see what positions they have previously held to see if there is a match with the skills required.

Gaps in Employment


If an employee has several months of a gap in employment, there will likely be a reason for that. However, if a resume has several jobs on it and all have several employment gaps, there could be a bigger reason other than coincidence. Sometimes several gaps in employment can show that the candidate is not a great worker, lazy, or not eager to get back into the workforce.

Also, make sure to look at how long they have held their previous positions. A candidate that only works a few months before switching companies may not be the best fit for your job opening. Longevity is key!

Employment Growth


Employment growth is a great way to tell whether a candidate would be a good fit for your company. What we mean by employment growth is, have they had the same position for 3+ years with no promotion or have they been promoted at least once? 

Employees that don’t see any growth within a company can be a red flag, especially if it is an entry-level position. However, it is not always a red flag. Sometimes companies don’t offer promotions for certain positions. However, if a candidate had several entry-level jobs for 3+ years with no growth, there could be a reason behind it.

For more information about how to determine a “red flag” or more information about things to look for in a resume, check out this article by ZipRecruiter written back in 2015.

Employee Skills


A candidate with a job title like “manager” or “specialist” can be a good sign they are a great candidate for your job opening. However, what can be more important than the title they held or the company they worked for is the skills they have.

What type of skills does a candidate need to excel at the role you are hiring for? Once you figure that out, make sure the candidate has those skills.

According to Indeed, the most sought-after employability skills that hiring managers search for in candidates are as follows:

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Leadership Skills
  3. Teamwork Skills
  4. Interpersonal Skills
  5. Learning/adaptability Skills
  6. Self-Management Skills
  7. Organizational Skills
  8. Computer Skills
  9. Problem-solving Skills
  10. Open-mindedness

Learning about what kind of skills a candidate has will complement their experience and illustrate their suitability for the job opening.

After searching for these 5 things you need to look for in a resume, you should be set up for success in the candidate search. Don’t worry. If you are still having trouble finding top talent, give us a call. We are a locally owned staffing agency in Providence, RI.

For more information about who we are, visit citypersonnel.net! If you were interested in this article, learn more about how to attract more candidates with a 3-2-2 workweek instead of a 9-5!


Ideal.com, What to Look for in a Resume

MichaelPage.com, 9 Things Recruiters and Employers Look for in a Resume

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