Recruiters are quick to dismiss resumes as they generally have so many to read, often they’ll stop reading after just a few seconds.
For this reason, it is worth using a resume writing checklist to make sure you haven’t made any common resume errors, and that your resume stands out from the rest.
Looking for a job can be a long process so it’s vital to maximize your chances at every stage. Knowing how to write an effective resume is crucial to this.
Following this basic resume checklist will help you to avoid mistakes and put you ahead of the competition. Things to check on your resume…
To get this section wrong could be tragic. Imagine missing out on your dream job because you made a typo in your email address or phone number! Check the information multiple times. The info should also be comprehensive and include…
- Your full name
- Current address
- Phone number
- Professional looking email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- LinkedIn details or professional website URL, if you have them
Design and appearance
The first impression a resume gives is crucial as resumes are generally judged in a matter of seconds. Make sure your resume:
- Looks professional and attractive. Using a resume builder achieves this quickly.
- Is readable. Use a basic font like Arial or Times New Roman and make sure there is plenty of white space.
- Draws the reader’s eyes to the most important parts. Use bold, bullets and other design elements to highlight key info.
- Is visually consistent. Make sure the borders are even, that you have used the same style and size of font throughout, and that there are no other visual inconsistencies.
Tailor your professional experience
Resume writing tips for the professional experience section: Make sure you…
- You use a resume format which highlights your strengths the best, whether it be a chronological, functional, or combination
- Each job description is as concise as possible, include more details for the more recent and relevant positions.
- Each job description relates to the position you are applying for, irrelevant experience is a waste of valuable space.
- You demonstrate that you have the key skills and competencies the job requires.
- You have included the keywords from the job description on your resume
- The information is accurate.
What not to include on your resume
Writing too much information is one of the most common mistakes. If you are not sure if a piece of information is relevant to the job you’re applying for, don’t include it on your resume. The recruiter will use the interview to get to know you better, the aim of your resume is to get you a first interview. Don’t include:
- Personal details. Except your contact details. Don’t write your age, ethnicity, sexuality or marital status.
- Salary information. This could immediately eliminate you from consideration. If the potential employer thinks your salary is too high or low.
- References. Wait until the employer requests these. Don’t even write ‘references available on request’, as this goes without saying.
- Every job you’ve ever had. Only list experience you’ve had over the last 10-15 years which demonstrates to the employer that you’re the right person for the job.
- Hobbies and interests. Only include interests if they are directly relevant to the job.
- Outdated qualifications. Only include your high school if: you haven’t finished it yet, you are in college, or it is your highest educational achievement.
- Reasons you left past positions.If an employer wants to know they can ask you in the interview.
Resume proofreading checklist
- Use a dictionary and a spell-checker as you write your resume. Avoid using words which you are not familiar with. Slowly proofread, carefully examining each letter of every word.
- Use the present tense for your current job description and the past tense for past positions. Don’t mix them. Make sure there is a period at the end of each sentence. Make sure all proper nouns (e.g. names of people and companies) are capitalized.
- Use a consistent style. Make sure you use the same format for dates, names, and numbers etc. For example, don’t write 1/11/2017 and later write 1/11/17. Whichever you choose, stick with it.
- How to proofread your resume: Proofread your resume four times. Once for spelling, once for grammar, once for punctuation and once for meaning. Double check the contact details. Then pass it to at least two other people to check over. Be just as careful with your cover letter, if one’s required.