Resume Checklist: Must-Haves & Must-Dos

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. For more on this subject, see this post.

Layout

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.

Relevance

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.

Related Posts

How To Customize Your Resume 3 Tips For Flaunting Your Value On Your Resume How To Make Dates On A Resume Work For You

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. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less