Stay on Track! A Resume Checklist

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!