You’ve spent days typing out a perfect resume and cover letter for the job you really want. You send it off and now wait anxiously to get a reply, all the time wondering if your resume tells the employer what they really want to know.

When your phone finally rings, you feel butterflies swirling around in your stomach, filled with nerves and expectation you answer the call.

Within the first few seconds, you’ve heard enough… “Unfortunately, on this occasion, your application has not been successful”… Blah Blah Blah.

You finish the call with all of the pleasantries that you would expect and begin to think… “What went wrong?”

What do employers want from me?

What many people don’t tend to do is ask why are there job availabilities in the first place. In my experience, it’s usually a mixture of these two reasons.  

1) Companies want to solve a problem.

2) Companies want to make the most out of an opportunity.

Businesses are all alike in this respect, they aren’t just creating posts for the fun of it – they NEED something, but not just anything or anyone.

Businesses are searching for specific requirements and usually, these are detailed in the job advertisement.

If you fail to mention these specific requirements and that you can do them efficiently, particularly in this job climate, you will easily be skipped over for someone who can give them what they need.

Imagine yourself as a dressmaker.

A potential client has just walked in the door and she needs a ‘size 12 red cocktail dress, with a rhinestone butterfly just below the shoulder’. (I don’t know anything about dresses myself, so I don’t know how that will look). So that is what she wants…  (Our “specific requirements”)

Now as a dressmaker you would do just that right?

If you then made, or even proposed a dress that was a size 16 ball-gown that was black and didn’t have a rhinestone in sight, would the client say “Okay, I’ll take that” or… walk out your shop and go next-door to your competitor?

So when you are writing your resume or putting yourself across to any business, remember…

“They don’t care about you

They might in a few weeks down the line if you’re under their employment, but at this point, they just want the best person for the job.

I mean don’t get me wrong, they may like an impressive stitch technique which may help your application, but just convince them that you can do that job and fit like the perfect piece to solve their puzzle!

-Simple really, when you think about it.

So what’s the big takeaway here?

 Know what the business/boss wants. Visualize being that boss and ask:

  • What would I want the candidate for the position to be strong at?
  • What would I want to see in their C.V/ resume application?

Personally, I’ve been in the hiring role and the ‘human element’ is almost completely non-existent when you’re desk deep in hopeful candidates’ paperwork. As the boss I knew what I wanted, if applications didn’t convey my expressed requirements it would go onto the NO pile. Successful candidates were the ones who had researched the role and expressed proficiency in the areas that I needed. – They had ‘stepped into my shoes’ and given me exactly what I wanted.

The grades and the experience were always important, but as I’ve already said, I had written down in the ‘Job requirements’ what I’d want the applicant to be prolific at, including personality. So once I had seen pieces of paper that expressed the qualities that I was looking for, it was time to call the ‘most suited’ in for interviews. This is the point where I wanted to see them demonstrate their skills; the skills they had mentioned on their resume, including their personalities.

I was looking for confident, dynamic candidates that had great interpersonal skills. When it got down to it I’d say roughly 30% of these actually had that ‘spark’ they said they had. It could have been nerves or politeness, but I needed to see the picture they had painted me of themselves in their CV. I mean if they couldn’t show me their qualities, how could I be sure that they’d show my clients? –Those that didn’t live up to my expectations made interviewing a lot easier.

The second part

To get any job there are at least two phases in which an applicant will come into contact with the boss/employer before they get offered that trail/job, the application stage and the interview stage. 

I have already described why it is important to know what the employer wants in the application stage and how to implement that into your resume. In the second part (the interview stage) it is vital to then express and show those qualities in a way that the employer would expect.

It could be expressed through the use of professional industry-specific language and appropriate dress.

Your grades will usually speak for themselves, but in respect of your personality traits and qualities, they will need to be presented. They will have taken note of the way you have described yourself in your application (that may have got you the interview in the first place) so it is important to make sure there is a sufficient amount of correlation between the ‘CV You’ and the ‘Real You’. If someone were to say a quality of theirs was ‘approachable’, but they had a ‘face like thunder’ at the interview, not only would that be off-putting for most employers, it would not match the perception of themselves they gave. –

That may be quite an unlikely scenario (I hope), but it does show you need to be what you said you are!

There are ways…

Even if you aren’t familiar with certain terms/systems that they ask for in the job description, you can be by the time the interview comes around to it. The web is a great research tool, which can get you ‘up to speed’ in most areas of any industry. There are plenty of online courses to help you achieve certain skills that employers are specifically looking for. So when an employer wants “A good knowledge of Excel and Powerpoint”, put in your CV that you have good knowledge of Powerpoint and Excel and then do a course, watch tutorials, get some books etc.

All in all, it’s worth stepping into the shoes of an employer and imagine what they want. Your chances of winning that job will rocket if you do because once you know what they want, you can then plan a way to give them just that!

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As the founder of Arran Pullen Career coaching, Arran has worked with career professionals and job hunters since 2007. As an accredited coach and NLP practitioner, he provides a safe sounding board for his client’s ideas and provides resources, strategies, and techniques to help them to exceed their career goals. His articles have appeared in various e-zine sites including and LinkedIn and focus on practical techniques to help professionals land their next job. As a former trainer, Arran also creates online courses and job landing tools that further support job hunters negotiate the job searching maze. To learn more about how to get your resume noticed by a hiring manager and land your next interview, go to – and pick up your FREE resume writing checklist.