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The Complete Resume Checklist

By Gerald Walsh ©

Consider these odds: Most employers will receive more than 100 resumes for a single job opening. These same employers then spend only 20 – 30 seconds reading each resume. They then select between 10% and 20% of applicants for interviews.

This means the odds of you being selected for an interview are low – even if you are a great candidate.

In fact, often the best candidate doesn’t get selected for an interview because they haven’t presented their resume in a way that makes their qualifications and experience stand out. 

Don’t let this happen to you. Here is a simple checklist you should review before pressing the ‘send’ button. For ease of use, I have broken the list into Content and Format.

Content

Is your name and contact information clear? You don’t have to include your civic address; just your email address and a phone number where you can be reached easily.

Do you have a professional-sounding email address? Get rid of old ones from your college days (i.e. beerdrinker789@gmail.com).

Is your email address from a professional domain? Old-fashioned domains can be a red flag for many companies.

Have you included links to your social media like LinkedIn and Twitter?

Do the dates and employment history on your resume align with those on your LinkedIn profile?

Have you cleaned up any content on your social profiles that present you in an unfavourable light?

Is everything on your resume truthful? Lying on your resume can be grounds for dismissal.

Have you customized your resume to the job and company you are applying for?

Is your career objective (if you include one) written with the company in mind?

Is your work history listed plainly with the full name of the employer, its location, your dates of your employment (full years only) and your job title?

Have you included a short description of what each of your past employers does, if it is not a well-known company?

Have you included your accomplishments and not just a long list of your responsibilities?

Are these accomplishments measureable?

Have you listed your most relevant accomplishments first? 

Have you removed older work experience (more than 15 years old) that is not applicable anymore?

Is your education listed clearly with most recent shown first?

Have you included all your additional training and professional development that would be relevant to the job?

Have you listed your community involvement and volunteer experience if you think the employer values this activity?

Have you included a list of your personal interests outside of work (an optional section) if you think this list will increase your chances of being selected for interview?

Have you avoided use of jargon or abbreviations that might limit the reader’s understanding of your capabilities?

Are there keywords included within your resume in case the employer uses an applicant tracking system to screen resumes?

Format

Is your resume visually appealing?

Have you used a clean, easy-to-read typeface such as Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Times Roman or Cambria?

Is your font size between 10 and 12 point to make it easier on the reader’s eyes?

Have you used a consistent font size throughout your resume? A note: try line spacing at 1.1. It will look better with most typefaces.

Have you used the same typeface and font size in both your cover letter and your resume? This is especially important if they are merged into one document and sent by email.

Are your page margins set at 1’’ (or wider) all around to leave plenty of white space and be easier on the reader’s eyes?

Have you used bolding, underlining, initializing, or capitalizing in a way that draws attention to a heading? But avoid using too many of these tools at the same time. For example, it’s okay to use EDUCATION but not EDUCATION.

Have you used bullets (which are easier to read) to list your accomplishments?

Is your resume an appropriate length? A good resume is two pages in length although no one will object if it goes to a third page.

Have you saved your resume as a PDF before emailing? Doing so will set the format the way you want it to look and will eliminate the risk of the format changing when opened by the recipient.

Have you saved your resume with a title that makes sense to the receiver? For example, use “Resume – Allan Ferguson” not something like “060716v2” which I assume meant July 6, 2016 (version 2) when I received it.

Have you put yourself in the employer’s shoes and read the resume from their perspective?

Lastly, are you sure there are no typos or spelling errors?

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at walsh@geraldwalsh.com.


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.