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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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.)
Contact Information

Career Development Advising Services

Campus Address
102-21 USB
Mailing Address

102 University Services Building, Suite. 21
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States