What do Human Resource Managers Look for on a Resume?

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Human resources managers consider many different factors when evaluating resumes. These factors largely depend on whether the resume is for an HR position or for another position within the company. What follows is a guide that will help clarify what HR managers look for when sifting through resumes.

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When Evaluating HR Resumes

Human resource departments frequently need to hire employees of their own. On resumes for positions in the HR department, HR employees typically look for experience in human resources, such as the responsibility of hiring people in the past, a history of effectively responding to the grievances of employees and a track record of hiring employees that have been a good fit for the roles they were hired to fill. They also look for evidence of strong interpersonal skills, a good understanding of labor and workplace laws, and information on a candidate’s education.

When Evaluating Other Resumes

HR managers and employees also frequently aid in the hiring of employees outside the HR department. This is a common function for most HR departments. They typically work with the hiring manager for the department in need of the employee, as well as outside recruiters, to fill positions and find the right talent they need. They take into account the skills needed in the role as well as cultural fit. This obviously varies based on department and company. For example, when evaluating candidates for an accounting department, HR managers might look for accounting experience, knowledge of major accounting programs like QuickBooks and certifications such as the CPA.

Basic Formatting

In addition to experience, skill sets, and other information about the candidate, HR managers also take into account the formatting and presentation of the resume itself. They check for grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors, which rightly tell them about a candidate’s writing ability and their attention to detail. They also look for whether the candidate has attempted to pad out their resume or used unusual fonts in an attempt to be unique. Candidates are advised to proofread their resumes carefully and not do anything particularly weird in a misguided effort to make their resume stand out. HR managers typically don’t want to see resumes that are excessively long (more than one page when such length is not justified) either. All of these problems can be resume killers, as outlined by The Balance Careers.


Most HR professionals today use applicant tracking systems and specific keywords to determine which resumes are worth their time and which are not. These keywords are often included in the job description itself, which HR managers often have a significant hand in creating. HR managers will typically sit down and make a list of keywords or phrases that they want to associate with each job. These keywords then work to attract the right applicants for the position. If the job is for a different department in the company, they will consult managers in that other department regarding what keywords they should look for.

Human resource managers play an essential role in finding and hiring talent at most companies, and resumes are often where they get their first look at a candidate. At the end of the day, the job of human resources is to evaluate resumes so only the most promising candidates are called in to interview and eventually hired for the job.

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