I can’t think of many tasks people dread more than writing a resume. There are so many little things you need to add, rephrase, check, double-check, triple-check … and yet, somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as Corey Wainwrite from HubStop. It’s anxiety-inducing.
So, I did what I do when I’m anxious. I made a list about all the little stuff you need to do when you’re writing and editing a resume.
Check it out — and we wish you the best of luck with your job search.
I’ve divided all the must-do tasks into four sections and did my best to order them chronologically. Some could probably exist in more than one section or be completed in a different order, so I’ve ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-writing process.
Is your email address from a professional domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)
Does your resume align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will likely review both, in tandem.)
Have you included links to social profiles, portfolios, and a personal website, if relevant?
Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available?
If you’ve listed the hiring manager’s name, have you customized any communications that address him or her?
If you’re sending your resume as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it (or opened up permissions to everyone)?
Have you included your basic contact information — including your name, address, email address, and phone number?
Are you writing in a tone that matches that of the company to which you’re applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying to work at a new tech startup versus an established analyst firm.)
Have you customized your resume for the specific job you’re applying to? (Highlight work experience and skills that are relevant to the position — don’t just write down everything you’ve ever done professionally.)
Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, not applicant-focused? (If not, that’s okay — but in lieu of it, do include a “Key Skills” section that summarizes who you are and what you can offer the company.)
Have you included both accomplishments and responsibilities under each job? (Both should be easy to ascertain when scanning your resume.)
Have you used metrics where possible to better illustrate your success?
Do you illustrate career progression? Is it clear that you were promoted, gained additional responsibility, or switched jobs laterally to acquire more skills?
Have you listed not only the names of companies, but a short description of what each company does?
Have you included your tenure at each company?
Have you included relevant information about your education?
Have you added anything that points to your personality or interests outside of work?
Does your unique value proposition shine through? (E.g., something that makes you stand out from other applicants, or highlights that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.)
If relevant for the position, have you included links to a portfolio or samples of your work?
Have you included reference names and contact information, or simply, “references available upon request”? (Both are okay — just be sure to use at least one to indicate that you even have references.)
Have you used some sort of template so the layout of your resume is visually appealing and easy to read?
Is your resume too creative? (For instance, if you’re applying for a creative position and have formatted your resume as an infographic … is it really simple enough to read, or is it best to save that creativity for your portfolio?)
Have you selected a clear, easy-to-read font?
Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, such as bullet points and header text?
Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you’ve bolded job titles, are all job titles indeed bolded?)
Are your margins even?
Are all items properly aligned? (For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?)
Are all links you’ve included clickable?
Have you converted your resume to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended, without downloading specific fonts or needing special software? (A PDF format is recommended.)
Have you included keywords in your resume? (If you’re submitting to an automated system, it might be critical to getting past filters. Be sure your resume directly reflects some of the software and skills mentioned in the job description.)
Have you edited it for brevity? (Try to keep your resume to about one page per ten years of job experience, if possible.)
Have you removed irrelevant job experiences?
Are sections of your resume in the order that best highlights your skills and what you have to offer the employer? (For instance, if you’re a recent graduate with internships in different fields, you might separate your most relevant experience from “other” experience, instead of ordering everything by date.)
Have you edited out generic action verbs for more specific ones?
Have you made use of a thesaurus to prevent monotony?
Have you found more professional alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms?
Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might be redundant to mention that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word or capable of using email.)
Have you done a sweep for annoying jargon or business babble? (Everything should be clearly articulated, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand what you do.)
Is everything 100% true? (If you write that you’re fluent in a foreign language on your resume, you should be prepared to speak that language during your interview. If you say you like baking, you should be ready to answer which dishes you like to bake.)
Have you conducted spelling grammar checks?
Finally, have you asked a friend who hasn’t read your resume before to provide a final glance for errors, inconsistencies, or confusing phrasing?
If you’ve gotten this far and checked every box, you should be ready to send that resume in.
P.S. We’re hiring.
Do you have any other resume must-haves? Share with us in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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