Resume critique checklist
Make sure your resume hits all the right marks.
Six seconds—that’s how much time a recruiter will typically spend on a resume review before deciding whether to put it in the “yes” or “no” stack.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single piece of paper that basically determines if you’re going to move forward in the job search process. So, to put it simply, you want your resume to be as perfect as humanly possible.
Luckily, Monster has all sorts of resources to help ensure your resume not only gets you considered, but also moves you to the top of the stack.
But we also recommend reviewing your resume yourself—and getting at least one other pair of eyes—to make sure your final product is good to go.
Use this resume checklist to help you get a recruiter’s attention. You’ll know your resume is up to par if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Does the resume look original and not based on a template?
- 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?
- Is a career summary included so the reader immediately knows your value proposition?
- Is the resume's length and overall appearance appropriate given your career level and summary?
- Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
- Is the font appropriate for the career level and industry?
- Are there design elements (bullets, bolding, and lines) to guide readers' eyes through the document and highlight important content?
- Is there a good balance between text and white space?
- Are margins even on all sides?
- Are design elements like spacing and font size used consistently throughout the document?
- If the resume is longer than a page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
- Are all resume sections clearly labeled?
- Are sections placed in the best order to highlight your strongest credentials?
- Is your work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
- Is the resume targeted to a specific career goal, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all document?
- If this is a resume for a career change, does it include supporting details that show how your past experience is relevant to the new job?
- Is the information relevant to hiring managers' needs?
- Does your resume's content support your career summary?
- Did you include keywords, appropriate buzzwords, and industry acronyms?
- Is applicable, additional information (awards and affiliations) included, and is personal information unrelated to the job (marital status, age, nationality) omitted?
- Did you avoid writing the resume in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns (I, me, and my)?
- Is the content flow logical and easy to understand?
- Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar, or syntax errors?
The list is divided into sections, just like your resume, to group the related headers together for easy reference.
Photo Credit: Kathryn Decker
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Objectives, Summaries and Goals
Summary of Qualifications
Work and Employment
Career Related Experience
[Industry] Experience – replace [Industry] with the name of yours, such as ‘Accounting Experience’
Education and Training
Education and Training
Course Project Experience
Related Course Projects
Activities and Honors
Skills, Expertise and Proficiencies
Areas of Experience
Areas of Expertise
Areas of Knowledge
Career Related Skills
Software (as in, ‘software you are familiar with’)
Language Competencies and Skills
Achievements and Accomplishments
Current Research Interests
Thesis / Theses
Awards and Recognition
Credibility and Proof
Writing Samples – as in, ‘where to find them’
Websites – as in, ‘Created’ or ‘Designed’)
Social Media Profiles
Availability – as in, ‘when I will be available’ if you’re currently unavailable (e.g. student) but need to apply in advance
Did you notice that the following weren’t in the list?
That’s because none of these sections should appear on your resume unless you have a very specific reason to add them, and I don’t mean ‘as filler to make it a whole page.’
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About the Author Jacob Share
Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.