The team over at recruiting firm Michael Page surveyed 2,000 potential candidates and 480 recruiters, and they compared respondents’ opinions about what is most important in a resume. It turns out that the things candidates think are most important to employers often aren’t.

Here’s a look at what job seekers overestimate the importance of in their resumes along with those elements that they’re in danger of overlooking – that really matter to employers.

For recruiters, by far the information that candidates most underestimate the importance of is listing all of the job titles they’ve held within one company. 93% of employers think this is vital information. Why? Because this shows growth.

Say you’ve been at ACME Corp for six years, and for the last two years you’ve been a manager. Your resume could list the company name, your start date to the present, and your current job title. This could make it look like you haven’t progressed in six years. The company isn’t seeing potential in you.

This would look far more impressive in your resume if you listed your first job title at ACME, then how you were promoted to Team Lead after a year on the job, and two years after that became manager of your department. Now you’re going places. You’re being recognized.

Employers also care about seeing relevant industry terms in your resume, details of your actual on-the-job accomplishments, and that your resume is free of typos or grammatical mistakes.

What candidates think matters to employers (that really doesn’t)

What do job seekers most overestimate the importance of in their resume? Keeping it to a maximum of two pages long. While 83% of candidates surveyed say that they have edited their resumes down to get them onto those two pages, only 32% of recruiters say that they care if a resume is longer than that.

Also, more than have (54%) of candidates think that having volunteer experience on their resumes will help impress employers. However, only 11% of recruiters surveyed think that this is useful information to highlight. Your personal interests and hobbies also don’t resonate with employers.

What candidates overestimate / underestimate in their resumes

See an interactive version of this table with more detail about the survey and methodology over at Michael Page.


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