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:

First Impression

  • 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)

Appearance

  • 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?

Resume Sections

  • 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?

Career Goal

  • 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?

Accomplishments

  • 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?

Relevance

  • 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?

Writing Style

  • 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?