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What Executives Notice First On Your Résumé

We asked HR heads and executives what parts of your resume catch their eye.
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When it comes finding the right candidate for the job, human resources managers are often faced with piles of resumes. So when they’re trying to sift through applicants in the shortest amount of time possible, what details catch their eye?

‘There is such a thing as ‘Rule of Thumb’ when it comes to resumes,” says Mac Vengco Bergantin, who works as human resources director at a startup. “This means that when a hiring manager holds a resume, anything above her thumb must contain all the essential and relevant information about the candidate. This is important particularly when there are tons of applicants and the position is urgent.”

IMAGE: Freepik

Bergantin prefers resumes that are concise, clean, and tailored for the position. “It is best to highlight accomplishments and pertinent professional experience,” she explains. “Highlight the qualifications that you possess that are aligned with the job vacancy you are applying for. Previous job experience is usually the first thing I look for in resumes.”

Gio Manahan, COO of a utilities company, agrees that design is important. “If it’s well designed, it tells me that the person is interested in delivering a high quality product to his ‘customer’—in this case, his potential employer,” he says. “It’s a bit of a signal to me that this person can be counted on to deliver high quality work without much prodding.”

The next thing Manahan notices is the grammar. “[This] also tells me if the person is sloppy or not. If it’s a sloppy resume, it’s an indicator to me that his or her work will be sloppy,” he explains. “Then I start to read through the work experience.”

IMAGE: Freepik

Another thing HR managers look out for is how many jobs you’ve had and how long you’ve stayed with each company. After all, millennials are well known for job-hopping, and this makes employers place more of a premium on loyalty. “Four years ago, I would freak out on how the millennials would move jobs so often,” Tara Santos, marketing director of The Moment Group, says. “But now I know for some of them two years can feel like a lifetime. Personally, I like seeing two years but that is very seldom these days.”

Even if job-hopping has become very common, it’s still a red flag. “It takes time and energy to train, so when they hop around too often, it tells me already what type of person he or she is,” Santos explains. “How can you really know about a job in just a few months?”

While coming from a good school is always a plus, this isn’t as big a factor as people tend to think. “I admit that I do look at the candidate’s school—but only as a point of reference,” Allan Ko, head of HR Service Delivery at Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific, says. “A good recruiter will never generalize and discriminate just by virtue of the candidate’s school, or even grades. I look at the candidate’s personal career narrative—and no, this is not stated in words atop the resume—but an implicit inference of his or her career journey from their education, professional experience, and aspirations.”

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Angelica Gutierrez
Angelica is currently Editorial Assistant for Esquiremag.ph.
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