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What do employers really look for in a resume? Three things to include and three things to avoid.

Written by Ashworth College on Thursday, 25 October 2018. Posted in Career, Life Hacks

What do employers really look for in a resume? Three things to include and three things to avoid.

When it comes to what employers want to see in a resume, you may be surprised. Certainly they want to see the standard bits of information, such as education, job history, and training. But what they’re really looking for is a means by which to determine if you’re the right hire for the job. This means they’re also looking at information such as results, relevance, signs of motivation, and an indication that you have a genuine interest in the company and position.

No matter where you are in your educational journey or career, you can write a resume that helps employers identify you as the best person to hire.

Here’s what employers look for in a winning resume – and three things they don’t want to see.

1. Keywords

Keywords help match your resume to relevant job openings. It should be a no-brainer to realize that an employer searching for a “veterinary technician” needs to see that specific phrase in your resume (and not just the abbreviation “vet tech”). Beyond the job title, you should include other important keywords in your resume, too.

Go over any job posting carefully and make a list of the skills and attributes the employer is seeking. For instance, if a job posting lists “the ability to create pivot tables in Excel,” and you have this experience, then be sure to include the phrase “pivot tables” in your resume. If a posting requires “ability to work with minimal supervision,” and your prior work history includes such a position, then you should be sure to write something like, “managed the department with minimal supervision.” Including specific keywords like this helps employers find you when searching for resumes online and also helps the hiring official match you to the opportunity when scanning resumes to determine which people to interview.

2. Action-oriented verbs

When you write about your employment history, use strong action verbs and focus on accomplishments instead of tasks.


Example: “Achieved 25% year-on-year sales growth,” NOT “Was responsible for managing the sales department.”

Example: “Reduced patient billing errors by improving the efficiency of work flow within the department,” NOT “As part of management responsibility, changed the department’s work flow.”


Be sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible. If you can use numbers to communicate the concrete results of your efforts on the job, it will help a prospective employer better visualize what you can contribute to the organization.

3. Education

Even if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t specify an educational requirement, be sure to list all of your degrees and relevant diplomas or certificates, starting with the highest degree you’ve earned. You do not need to include the year you graduated unless you are still taking classes, in which case you should share your anticipated graduation date and your current GPA:

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (anticipated degree date June 2020)
Ashworth College
Current GPA: 3.9

To highlight your commitment to continuing education, be sure to include relevant career diplomas and certificates you’ve earned:

Career Diploma: AutoCAD
Ashworth College

Career Diploma: Medical Office Assistant
Ashworth College

Three things an employer doesn’t want to see on your resume

Just as employers are looking for the inclusion of certain items on a resume, they are also actively scanning to make sure certain items are not a part of your resume. Don’t make these common resume mistakes! No employer wants to see these errors on a resume.

  1. Typos. Make sure to carefully proofread your resume before you post it online or send it to a prospective employer. In fact, you should have a couple of friends proofread your resume, too, to catch any stray typos.
  2. Inflated skills or credentials. Be honest on your resume and only list the skills and qualifications you actually possess. Never lie on your resume, whether it’s about your educational level or past career history.
  3. Lack of links to social media profiles. These days, many employers dive deeply into the backgrounds of their job candidates. On your resume, include links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, personal website, or other relevant social media so prospective employers can get to know you better.

BONUS: Add a new degree to your resume’s education section

You can increase your chance of getting a good job by pursuing a degree, certificate, or career diploma in a field that pairs well with your interests. Talk to an admissions advisor today to find a degree program at Ashworth College that suits your interests, schedule, and budget!

About the Author

Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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