Resumes are the first impression that business owners have of potential hires. As a result, employers must use them to figure out whether a person is worth bringing in for an interview. Every employer has its own demands for potential employees and looks for specific elements in candidates’ resumes to determine possible fit.
So how can job seekers optimize their resumes to ensure they have included the essential elements employers are looking for? To help, we asked 13 successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
What is one thing a resume must have in order for you to bring someone in for an interview? Why?
1. A resume that’s tailored to the business
We look for resumes that are tailored to our business. We want people who want to work with us badly enough that they adjusted their resume to fit our wants. It is obvious when someone cuts and pastes a resume—and that’s fine, I get it—but when someone takes the time to tweak theirs for us, it shows they are already invested. —Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy
2. A summary statement
I always like to see a summary statement. It is the most crucial part of a resume for me. Resumes need a summary section where candidates try to link their skills and motivations with the job. If the candidate has gone through the job description and has the skills for the job, they can easily craft a good summary statement. If I like the summary statement, I will read the rest of the resume. —Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
3. Extracurricular activities
For junior roles, extracurricular activities make all the difference: GitHub projects for developers; running a blog or small e-commerce site for marketers testing in the wild; Dribbble or Behance portfolio for designers. Having taken additional courses or boot camps is certainly a plus, but practical projects really tell a lot about a candidate and their motivation. —Mario Peshev, DevriX
4. Just the essentials
I find that resumes that are short or compact and focus only on the most important details say a lot about how professional and savvy a job seeker is. A resume that is several pages long and filled with large paragraphs is immediately off-putting. It’s a sign of thoughtfulness when a resume highlights the most important details. You can always add a link or a QR code to showcase more details. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
5. Big-name brands or universities
A good resume needs to include an address. Jokes aside, the qualifications need to match up, and it has to be perfectly formatted. There isn’t really one thing. Correct spelling, proper grammar, punctuation, etc.,—all of those things are quite important. Mainly, though, if there are large brands or Ivy League education, that’s usually a quicker pass for an interview. —Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
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I always look for references on a resume. We specifically ask for potential hires to include this information on their application and resume. I’ve always felt that if someone isn’t willing to introduce you to people who can vouch for them, they are lacking transparency and are probably not a good fit for our business. —Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
7. Clean, concise writing
A resume must have clean, concise writing as well as proper grammar and spelling. The job candidate must be able to tell me not only what they did at their previous positions, but also how they made a significant contribution. I want team players who can plan ahead and achieve their goals. To a lesser extent, all contact information must be correct. —Duran Inci, Optimum7
8. Imagery or video
A balanced portfolio that uses imagery, in addition to time lines and competencies, is really useful. If you are reading resume after resume, even if they are tailored to the job you are offering, it can get monotonous. Imagery or a video helps to showcase candidate information in different ways for different audiences. —Matthew Capala, Alphametic
9. Surprising skills and hobbies
I always look for skills and hobbies that can surprise me. Learning a foreign language is always good, and there are apps to simplify the process. Did you know that reading sheet music counts as a language? A musician can put that under the skills they’ve learned and impress someone reading their resume. —Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow
10. Evidence of leadership skills
Good leadership skills are essential. Chances are whomever you hire will grow within the company, so you will need someone who can manage multiple people at a time, and guide your team onto the right path in order to have a successful business. —Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.
11. Impressive accomplishments
If a person has impressive accomplishments on their resume, that’s a great reason to bring them in. It means they have unique experience that could bring a fresh perspective to the table and solve issues differently. It’s always great to have different qualifications that make a candidate stand out and get chosen for an interview. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
Other important things to include with your job application
A personal note
I always look for a personal note along with the resume that highlights why a candidate wants to work for me or my company, and why they would be a good fit. It shows that they care about the position, and for me, that’s extremely important, as it’s an indicator that they are going to put in effort to succeed in the position. —Diana Goodwin, MarketBox
A personalized cover letter
I prefer to see candidates who write a cover letter specifically tailored to our company and the job itself. If someone sends me a standard resume with a generic cover letter, it shows me laziness and little initiative. A detailed cover letter that incorporates even basic knowledge of the company and the job will go a long way in helping that person get an interview. —Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media
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