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May 27, 2015

How to Write a Resume: The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

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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 somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as Corey Ridon from HubStop. It's anxiety-inducing, is what it is.

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 best of luck with your job search.

(P.S. If you're working on a marketing resume specifically, then use these free templates to get you started.)

The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

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 just ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-creation process.

Is Your Resume Professional? Things to Check:

Is your email address professional? (e.g. sara@gmail.com vs. sarabearlovespie11@gmail.com)

Is your email address from a professional and current domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)

Does your resume's storyline align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will probably check out both, in tandem.)

Have you included links to social profiles and a personal website, if relevant?

Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available?

If you have your hiring manager's name, have you customized any communications that address him or her?

If you're sending your resume over as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it or opened up permissions to everyone?

Is Your Resume Well-Written? Things to Check:

Have you included your basic contact information, including name, address, email address, and phone number? 

Are you writing in a tone that matches the tone of the company to which you're applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying for a tech startup versus an analyst firm.)

Have you customized your resume for the specific job you're applying to?

Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, not applicant-focused? (If not, that's alright -- 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 name of companies, but a short description of what that 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? (I.e. 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"?

Is Your Resume Properly Formatted & Designed? Things to Check:

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 good font? (Check out this infographic for some guidance on what makes a good resume font.)

Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, like bullet points and header text?

Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you're bolding 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.)

Is Your Resume Edited & Polished? Things to Check:

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 for brevity? (Try to keep to about one page per ten years of job experience, if possible.)

Have you edited out 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 grad 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-sounding alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms? 

Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might not be that noteworthy to say 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 done a spell check and grammar check? 

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. Oh, and good luck in your search. (P.S. We're hiring.)

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Topics: Hiring Professional Development

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