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INSIGHTS & INTUITION: What qualities in a resume or cover letter make you really sit up and take notice?

The ways we communicate and interact with others are soft skills that are needed in almost any job. An applicant who has the knowledge and ability to do the job, yet lacks the skills to communicate and interact with his or her fellow team members is not going to do well in the job.

I look for accurate and effective communication in the application and resume, as well as membership in associations or activities that foster the development of these soft skills through interaction and communication.  

Communicating effectively is an essential function for success in a job.

Pamela Binder

HR Business Partner

CHI St. Alexius Health

Bismarck, N.D.


The HR professionals involved in the hiring process spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding if the candidate should be contacted for an interview. Recruiters, project managers, and supervisors want to know immediately if a candidate has the skills, expertise and experience to do the job.  

Eye-catching resumes are well-organized, nicely formatted and relevant to the job. They identify key skills, detail applicable employment history and highlight the candidate’s projects and accomplishments.

Michelle Miller

Divisional Human Resources Director


Bismarck, N.D.


Personalized resumes and cover letters specific to the role we are hiring for always rise to the top. When applicants take the time to highlight their experience with the responsibilities and qualifications of the open position, they stand out.

Searching for a new job can be stressful, which often leads applicants to create only a single version of their resume. In doing so, they’re missing an opportunity.

While customizing a resume and cover letter may appear overwhelming, the employer’s job posting often includes many of these details that should be featured in your next resume and cover letter. That personalization will boost your odds of securing an interview.

Dan Doeden

Market President


Fargo, N.D.


When preparing a resume, remember that you have seconds, not minutes, to make a great first impression.  

Write your Summary/Objective as your elevator pitch. Highlight why you’d be a great fit for the job. Be specific, and add keywords that help the recruiter find the job that’s right for you.  

Recruiters then look for qualities that match the culture and values of the company (i.e. motivation, adaptability, teamwork, communication, organizational, interpersonal and problem-solving skills). 

Keep it brief, start sentences with verbs, list career history in reverse chronological order, provide achievements and responsibilities. Avoid any unnecessary personal details, and check for typos. 

Cathy Fynboh

Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition

Digi-Key Electronics

Thief River Falls, Minn.


Creating and presenting a stand-out resume can be a challenging part of your job search, but here are a few ideas to help.

The most important part of your resume is the beginning – so, be sure to speak to the position you’re interested in and also highlight your quantifiable accomplishments, successes and relative skills.

Let potential employers know about your specific professional abilities, so they have a good understanding of your work results and how that might translate into future success for their company.

Patti Hawkey

Director of Talent Acquisition and Planning


Sioux Falls, S.D.