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When you're writing a resume, you want to make sure you've covered everything. A checklist is the way to do that. Your resume is only given one shot once it runs through an employer's Applicant Tracking System or gets in the hands of a hiring manager, so make sure the first glance resume read-over leaves the right impression and message for a callback. Here are the key elements to writing a resume and reviewing it before sending it out:

Applicant Tracking System Rules

The Applicant Tracking System is the software that reads and ranks your resume so if your resume doesn't' tell it what it is looking at, major sections of your resume will not be seen. You need to have at least these key section headers: Profile, Experience, Education.


Ask yourself if your resume is inviting to the eyes. There should be ample white space between sections to clearly determine where one section ends and the next section begins. Remember, that the one-page resume rule no longer applies, so you do not have to cram your information into a single page.

Opening Section

The only part of your resume that everyone will read is your opening Profile or Summary of Qualifications. The Objective is replaced by just having the name of the position you are seeking. For example, PROFILE: SALES EXECUTIVE is the right way to start a resume today. Then you need to make sure you have expressed your Value Proposition, which details your level of experience and most importantly, creates the theme: Here's What I Can Do For You. A good test to see if you have a good opening is to ask yourself if the other 300+ candidates can say the same thing. If they can, then you need to rework this section.

Experience Format

Employers will scan the resume for eight seconds, so you want to make sure they see the accomplishments that support your value proposition. Use paragraphs for roles and responsibilities and bullets for accomplishments and success statements. Always start an accomplishment bullet with the result rather than the how. For example:
  • Shortened production times 38% by training personnel in Lean manufacturing practices.

Prioritize Successes And Accomplishments

Order your bullets by thinking about what is most important to the employer and highlight those first. So, if you delivered 126% of quota and also assisted in training other sales peers, which do you think should show first?
  • Delivered 126% of quota, ranking in Top 5 out of 128 peers.
  • Selected to train peers in personal sales best practices.


Have you plugged in keyword-rich terms where appropriate and does the content clearly serve the purpose of demonstrating why you are the right fit for the job? Any irrelevant experience or information will only waste space and dilute your main message.

Resume Writing Rules

Have you checked that there are no pronouns (I, me, and my)? Resumes should be written in first-person voice. That means that “Demonstrates strong communication skills" is not correct (third-person) and should be “Demonstrate strong communication skills." Also check for spelling, grammar mistakes, and inconsistencies. For instance, don't alternate between 'health care' and 'healthcare.' Select one form of its spelling and remain consistent throughout your resume. Overlooking any one of these checklist items can cost you.

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About the author

Don Goodman's firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
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