Aug. 23, 2012
Are you thinking about updating your resume or submitting it as part of an application for a job opportunity of interest to you? Make sure you ask yourself these 10 questions and adjust accordingly before you share your resume. If you are unsure about your ability to measure the quality of your resume, reach out to someone with experience in reviewing resumes (like me!) that will give you honest feedback and concrete suggestions for improvement.
Does the resume highlight what it should? Do not lose sight that the objective of a good resume is to effectively communicate facts about your experience, skills/abilities and career goals. If you are spending time and space talking about things that are better suited for an autobiography or online dating profile, consider leaving them out so your professional accomplishments and ambitions take the center stage.
Do you back up your claims? Nothing elicits an eye roll and a quick trip to the reject pile like lofty claims such as "expert communicator" or "loves challenges" with no mention of experience to back them up. My favorite is "excellent writing skills" with 101 grammar and spelling errors throughout the document.
Are you in love with your current/former employer? There's no need to glorify your current or former employer. A good resume shows how valuable you are, not how awesome you think your employer is.
Do you communicate a defined career goal? It does not need to be explicitly stated, but the accomplishments and skills you highlight should indicate that you have a particular career goal in mind. A well-written summary statement can take years of (often seemingly unrelated) experience and tie it all together to state your career goal succinctly.
Is there evidence of job hopping? If you have hopped from job to job, be sure to highlight the areas of stability in your resume. Also, now is the time to prepare for how you will explain the less stable periods in your work experience.
Do you take credit for everything? I know you are awesome, but need I remind you that no man is an island, and we all have teams that help us do what we do so well? Taking credit for an accomplishment that is impossible without the support of others can come across the wrong way and land you in the reject pile. Plus, it's a skill to be able to work well with a team to achieve a common goal, so don't be afraid to share that in your resume!
Is it too long or too wordy? Always be on the lookout for ways to keep your resume relevant and easy to read. Avoid repeating phrases, using unnecessary pronouns, and filling with "flowery" descriptions.
Are gaps in employment unaccounted for? This issue is best addressed when you strike preemptively and use a gap in employment as an opportunity to gain experience and add value through a volunteer experience, but if circumstances didn't allow you to think ahead on this one, highlight the areas of stable employment and prepare for how you will explain the gaps during the interview.
Do you draw more attention to the design/layout than your skills? Unless you are a graphic designer or seeking a visually creative position, leave the fancy fonts and colors for your next party invitation. And, unless you are an actor or entertainer, don't include a headshot.
Would you get arrested by the grammar po-po or the spelling cops? This goes without saying yet bears repeating: spelling and grammar errors are the kiss of death for your resume. If spelling and grammar are not a strength for you, find someone who is a big nerd about them (like me!) to make sure your resume is error free and consistent from start to finish.
What other questions should you ask to make sure your resume is top notch?
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