Resume Critique Checklist

Resumes normally get less than a 15-second glance at the first screening. Before submitting your resume, be sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

First Impression

  • Is the resume inviting to read, with clear sections and ample white space?
  • Does the design look professional rather than like a simple typing job?
  • Does the Professional Summary immediately convey that the applicant matches the advertised position?
  • Is the length and overall appearance of the resume appropriate given the career level of the advertised position?

Appearance

  • Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
  • Is the font simple and easy to read? (e.g. New Times Roman, Arial)
  • Are there bullets, bolding, underlining, and line spaces to guide readers' eyes through the document and highlight important content?
  • Is there adequate white space so that it does not appear crowded or overwhelm the reader?
  • Are margins even on all sides?
  • Are design elements such as spacing, indentions and font size used consistently throughout the document?
  • If the resume is longer than a page, do subsequent pages contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?

Resume Sections

  • Are all resume sections clearly labeled?
  • Are sections placed in an order that highlights the applicant's strongest credentials for the position?
  • Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?

Career Goal

  • Is the resume targeted to a specific position rather than one-size-fits-all document?
  • If this is a career change, is that clearly stated in the Professional Summary, along with supporting details showing how past experience is relevant to the new position?

Accomplishments

  • Does the resume include a solid listing of career accomplishments?
  • Whenever possible, are accomplishments quantified with numbers, percentages, dollar amounts or other concrete measures of success? (e.g. increased participation rates by 40%, realized a $50,000 savings, etc.)
  • Do statements begin with strong, varied action verbs?
  • Are accomplishments separated from responsibilities?

Relevance

  • Is the information relevant to the advertised position description?
  • Does the resume's content support the Professional Summary?
  • Is applicable additional information, such as awards and affiliations, included, while personal information like marital status, age and nationality unrelated to the job target omitted?

Writing Style

  • Is the resume written in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns, such as I, me and my, avoided whenever possible?
  • Is the content flow logical and easy to understand?
  • Is narrative reduced and are strong, crisp phrases used in bulleted items?
  • Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar or syntax errors? Have you put it away for a few hours or overnight and then do you plan to review it one last time before submitting it? (Remember, spell check does not catch everything.)