There are four points on the resume-writing compass: format, design, content, and relevance. Here’s a checklist to help evaluate if you’re on the right path! For each element, just ask yourself if your resume nails it. If not, take steps to improve the element.
- Format, length, and tone are appropriate for the targeted position and you as a candidate.
- The resume is in a modern format, meeting current standards.
- The resume is error-free: spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, syntax.
- Information on the resume is easy to locate, facilitating productive and informative skimming.
- The resume is obviously not a template.
- The resume is visually appealing, easy to read, and includes sufficient white space.
- The resume will stand out compared to other resumes.
- Appropriate fonts and sizes are used throughout the resume. Limit variety to about 2 fonts and/or sizes per resume. Get out of Times Roman if you’re still there. Times Roman has gone the way of two spaces after a period and AOL. Use design elements (lines, bolding, bullets, color, etc.) appropriate for your industry and target reader.
- The resume is an effective, future-focused marketing document, not a work-history obituary with long bullet lists of job descriptions and responsibilities. The resume tells a compelling story of your accomplishments that expresses your value and sustains the reader’s attention.
- Your value proposition is immediately visible on the resume, especially in the executive summary at the top of the first page.
- The resume makes it clear what position or role you’re targeting without making an “Objective” statement.
- The resume effectively communicates your value in any of the following areas where you:
- Made money / Saved money
- Reset company goals
- Designed/launched new products, processes, initiatives
- Built relationships / Attracted new customers / Retained existing customers
- Redefined corporate culture / Contributed to corporate culture or success
- Received awards or recognition / Got promoted / Assumed additional responsibilities
- Recruited staff / Retained staff
- Improved processes / Saved time
- Expanded business / Built volume
- Solved a specific problem / Mitigated risk
- Elevated your company’s competitive posture
- Improved the community / Contributed globally
- The resume contains powerful, concise, accomplishment-oriented statements designed to increase the reader’s interest in having a conversation with you.
- The resume speaks the reader’s language with industry-specific terminology and keywords throughout that are relevant to your goal.
- The resume contains persuasive, high-impact statements that promote your qualifications as the best candidate.
- The information provided is appropriate to the targeted job and is detailed enough to support your qualifications and desired salary.
- The resume includes specific accomplishments that highlight a problem/challenge, action taken, and/or result, with quantified values, such as how much, how many, how big, percentages, dollar amounts, how long, how quickly.
- Highlighted accomplishments support your job goal.
- The entire resume is targeted and supports your job goal.
- The resume does not include personal information, such as a photo, hobbies unrelated to the job target, or personal data.
- The resume does not include a reason for leaving any job or other negative information.
- Relevant jobs detailed typically cover the last 7–15 years. The right span depends on the goal of the resume.
Take this compass with you on your resume-writing journey, and you won’t get lost!