The following checklist has been designed to assist you in reviewing a resume. This checklist reflects the expertise developed through critiquing thousands of resumes, discussing selection criteria with numerous employers, and gathering input from a wide range of career professionals.
- Key is catching the employer’s interest.
- Is inviting and easy to read; not too much information.
- The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.
- Create visual impact using bullets, boldface, underlining, italics and font sizes to emphasize key words. Ensure all impact tools are consistent and lined up.
- Use consistent indentation, capitalization, font style, spacing and margins (1 inch).
- Use a standard font like Helvetica or Times New Roman in 10pt or larger; 11 pt in best.
- Incorporate enough white space between sections; adequate margins.
- Print on high quality (16-25lb) paper.
- Print is letter quality.
Organization and Format
- Make every word count.
- Appropriate format includes keyword phrases of profession.
- Presents strongest qualifications first. Have you motivated the employer to read more by using the first half of the first page effectively?
- Target your resume to the specific needs of the employer.
- Appropriate length: 1 page unless there is extensive, relevant work experience.
- If resume is two pages, last name and “Page 2” is listed at the top of the second page.
- Show your enthusiasm! You want the employer to sit up and take notice. Energy and excitement are contagious.
- Begin sentences or phrases with powerful action verbs. Do not use personal pronouns like “me” or “I.”
- Appropriate use of present and past tense verbs.
- Descriptive words are carefully chosen to avoid redundancy.
- Resume does not use jargon, acronyms, or abbreviations that are likely to be unfamiliar to the person reviewing the resume.
- A resume is a marketing tool, not a comprehensive job history. Include only those things that will help you get the job you want. Leave off those things that will not.
- List your strongest qualifications first on your resume.
- Short paragraphs mostly under five lines; short sentences brief, succinct language; not unnecessary words.
- Be consistent with use of periods. Either use them or don’t use them on every sentence.
- Absolutely free from grammatical, spelling, punctuation, usage and typographical errors.
- Name in a font larger than the largest font in the resume so that it stands out.
- E-mail address because many employers may contact you through email and because you need to show you are computer literate.
- Contact information is complete including address and telephone numbers.
- Telephone number(s) where you can be reached and be sure to have an answering machine in working order with a professional outgoing message.
- If posting on a recruiting site (non-employer) you may protect your identity by including your first name and first initial of your last name, and a professional email address that does not include your last name. Omit your address and telephone numbers.
- Gear toward how your skills will benefit the company not how the company can benefit your experience. For example, instead of “Searching for position that will use my background and education and provide potential for promotion,” try, “Seeking position related to my experience in public relations and Bachelor’s in Marketing. Consistently recognized as a person who goes above and beyond.”
- Specify industry and/or job title or area of interest.
- Do not include if you are: A.) unsure of position available; B.) employer has more than position for which you would like to be considered; C) you have limited space.
- Short statement that indicates the position, title and possible area of specialization sough.
- Language is specific, employer centered not self-centered; avoids broad or vague statements and addresses the need of the potential employer.
Summary of Skills, Accomplishments, or Expertise
- Identifies 3-6 key achievements that support the objective
- Summarizes relevant work experience and accomplishments that support the objective.
Education and Training
- Spell out degrees, i.e. Bachelor of Science not BS.
- Highest level of attainment is listed first; work from most current degree backward.
- Include type of degree, name of university, location of university, date of graduation or anticipated date, major, minor and any study abroad.
- Emphasize degree in bold and place it before your university. Do not bold university.
- Put month and year of graduation, do not put exact dates, do not put “expected” or “projected” graduation i.e, if you are graduating in May 2009, put May 2009.
- Omit degree date if you earned the degree greater than 5 years ago.
- Place education at bottom of resume if degree earned more than 5 years ago or you have more than five years of experience. Place at top if applying for education position.
- Include GPA if it is 3.0 or above, use GPA abbreviation not G.P.A, and do not round to more than the 2nd decimal place i.e., 3.25 not 3.249.
- Omit high school if you have completed more than two years of college unless referencing a private prestigious school that might be recognized or you have impressive honors or relevant extracurricular activities.
- If you financed your education, say so, for example: “Maintain a 3.5 GPA while working full-time to pay 75% of tuition.”
- If recent grad or a research position, include relevant courses, papers, projects and paper or project titles.
- Include honors, awards, and scholarships.
- With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer’s attention within a 5-second glance. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want.
- Experience descriptions start with action verbs.
- Include all paid, volunteer, intern, or cooperative education experiences that are relevant to your objective. Start with most recent experience if using chronological format.
- Include title held, organization name, city, state, or country location (if not in USA).
- Include full and part time jobs, paid or unpaid internships.
- Do not include whether the jobs were full or part time.
- Put past employment experience in past tense.
- Put present employment experience in present or past tense.
- Dates position held; if several positions for one employer, list employer once.
- Include month and year for employment, not exact dates.
- Include numbers to quantify experience where possible, for example – # of employees supervised, size of budget managed, # of workshops taught or projects coordinated, $ amount saved by your ingenuity.
- Responsibilities listed in order of each item’s relative value to the future employer; indicate transferable skills and adaptive abilities used on the job.
- Highlight skills and adaptive abilities used on the job.
- Highlight skills, abilities and competencies rather than duties.
- Use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want. For example, an employee wants to use the experience she’s gained to move into a management position. To strengthen her image she should use as many “management oriented” words as possible.
- Average; “Gave work assignments to staff of entry level accounting clerks.”
- Power Words: “Directed workflow, supervised and trained accounting staff performing posting to general ledger, accounts receivable and payable accounts.”
- Accomplishments on your job; indicate problems faced and solutions found.
- Contributions to the organization, i.e., ways your work helped increase profit, membership publicity, funding, motivation, efficiency, productivity, quality; saved time or meoney; improved programs, management, communication, information flow, etc.
- Use quantitative or qualitative indicators that describe the results of your contributions or accomplishments, i.e., “increased sales by $50,000”; “reduced staff turnover by 25%”; “significantly improved staff ability to access data”.
- Describe learning that took place on the job that is relevant to your job objective.
- Describe accomplishments in jargon of the field.
- Focus on accomplishments and how you made yourself valuable to employers rather than your responsibilities. Instead of: “Responsibilities included implementation of policies and procedures, training of new employees, interfacing with subordinates and vendors.” Try: “Worked with staff and vendors to increase product turnover by 15% and sales by 23%. Trained 14 new employees, 5 of whom were rapidly promoted.”
- Computer skills: indicate software applications, hardware, and operating systems language skills. Describe specific level of fluency and ability to read and write as “basic,” “intermediate,” or “advanced”.
- Summarized the special skills that qualify you for the position.
- Include relevant skills that qualify you for the position.
- Include relevant skills sought by employers such as proficiency in certain computer programs or languages, job specific certifications, foreign language skills, etc.
Activities and Achievements
- Employers want examples of initiative, leadership, teamwork and other job related skills.
- Include extracurricular activities, community service, and professional associations.
- List of significant positions of responsibility; include title, name or organization or team, dates, leadership roles, achievements, and transferable skills that are relevant.
- Indicate “References available upon request.”
- Create a separate page with references and provide the page only when asked.
- Reference page should include the same page heading as the resume.
- Use only work or educational-related references.
- With reference permission, not his/her correct and complete contact information.
- Analyze ads and job descriptions to identify key words. The person whose qualifications most closely match those sought by employer gets the interview. Use same skill/key words in resume as those sought by the employer and provide specific examples.
- Omit racial, religious, or political affiliations unless a bona fide occupational qualification.
- Include only personal data relevant to your objective. Do not include personal information, such as hobbies, race, age, marital status or religion. While some might think it’s impressive that your favorite pastime is skydiving, others won’t call you to interview for fear that your hobby will get in the way of your work.
- Be honest (but not modest!) and truthful when describing your background.