What Hiring Managers Want in a Resume: Survey Results

Resumes ARE the backbone of a strong job search.  A well-crafted resume can greatly energize your job search and generate the opportunities that you truly deserve. 

Resumes are about YOU, but they are FOR HR and hiring decision makers. As you build your resume, you will get all kinds of advice. But what really matters is what the decision makers are saying.  

In October 2017, I partnered with Lisa Stephen to put together a survey of over 60 hiring authorities including hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters across a wide range of industries. 

We wanted to know what most employers wanted to see when it comes to resume mechanics. Do they care about page length, font, file format or length of experience represented? It turns out that they do... 

A Reasonable Page Length

Google “resume page length” and you’ll find a variety of opinions. Our hiring managers had a clear preference for a 2-page resume. That being said, 30% of respondents say that it depends on the type and level of the job.

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A Useful Date Format

We asked if employers wanted dates with only the year OR in the month/year format. We found that most employers (77%) wanted dates in the month/year format. If only the year is included, it is difficult for an employer to know if the applicant worked one day or 12 months in a specific role.

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Enough (But Not Too Much) Experience Represented

How many years of experience should you include on your resume? We found that 49% of employers want to see up to 10 years of experience while another 21% look for about 10- 15 years of experience. Very few wanted to see more than 15 years or all of a person’s work history.

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The Correct File Format

Then, what’s the preferred format to get a resume in? 79% of our respondents preferred PDF while only 5% strongly preferred Word.

The most important piece of advice is that you need to follow the instructions on the job posting!

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The Right Font

Most of our respondents didn’t care, though it seemed that sans serif fonts were preferred over serif fonts. The key here is that it’s easy to read!

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of this series. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.