I often review and critique 5-10 resumes (or more!) daily. If you are not quite ready to work with a professional writer, here is a great checklist I have complied to help you critique, and improve your own documents.
Resume Critique Checklist
Remember, you generally have anywhere from 5-15 seconds to engage the reader. Your documents must be clear, concise and interesting! So if you want to improve your chances of getting an interview — be sure you can answer yes to ALL of the following questions:
- Does the resume and cover letter look original and not based on a template?
- Is the resume inviting to read, with clearly labeled sections and ample white space?
- Does the design look professional and appropriate for your industry?
- Is a qualifications summary included at the top so the reader immediately knows the applicant’s value proposition?
- Is the document’s length and overall appearance appropriate given the career level and objective? (Note: Unless you are in Academia, or preparing a detailed CV, keep your document to no more than two pages)
- Does the resume look polished, visually pleasing, and professional?
- Is the font appropriate and easy to read?
- Are there design elements such as strategic bolding, capitalization, bullets and lines to guide readers’ eyes through the document and highlight important content?
- Are margins even and well balanced?
- Is there enough white space?
- Are font size, spacing and date format used consistently throughout the document?
- If the resume is longer than one page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
- Are all sections clearly labeled?
- Are sections placed in the best order to highlight the strongest credentials and industry-relevant information?
- Have you included a keyword-rich skills/core competencies section?
- Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order?
- Is a clear career objective included toward the top of the resume in a headline, summary or statement of qualifications?
- Is the summary or headline geared towards your value proposition, and not all about what YOU want?
- Is the resume geared to a specific career goal, industry, or position and not trying to be a one-size-fits-all document?
- If this is a resume is facilitating a career change, is the current objective clearly stated, with details demonstrating how past experience is relevant to the new career?
- Does the resume include a solid listing of accomplishments, not just duties?
- Are accomplishments explained using specific numbers, awards, percentages, dollar amounts, etc.?
- Do accomplishment statements begin with enticing, strong and varied action verbs?
- Do listed accomplishments tell a good career story and demonstrate value?
- Is the information relevant to the company and position’s needs?
- Does the content support the career goal?
- Is the resume keyword-rich, filled with with industry buzzwords and appropriate acronyms?
- Are awards, professional affiliations and relevant volunteer experience included, while personal information like marital status, age and nationality and personal references omitted?
- Is the resume written in a first-person voice without personal pronouns, such as I, my and me, used?
- Does the content flow naturally?
- Has the resume been read and edited by several people, with no careless typos or spelling, syntax or grammar errors?