By Leslie Stevens-Huffman
In your quest to create the perfect resume, you have to slog
through reams of information. But it's hard to read every blog post, article
and book, then incorporate the opinions of multiple experts. What you really
need is a checklist to make sure you've mastered the basic techniques and
incorporated key concepts before you hit the submit button.
So, here's our checklist, to help you do just that.
Format, Theme and Appearance
Full-time employees with a stable work history often select
a chronological format, while contractors, career-changers, job hoppers and
recent grads are best served by a blended or functional resume format. Select a
style that highlights your strengths and diminishes your weaknesses.
One-size does not fit all. Create several versions of your
resume, and then customize the information to match the company and the job
description before you submit.
Maximum of two to three pages limited to the last 10 years.
Offer an addendum covering your additional work history upon request.
Use white space or text boxes to separate major sections. Draw
the reviewerÂ¿s eye to critical experience and keywords using boldface type, varying
font styles, capital letters and bullets. But don't overdo it.
Make sure your resume survives the electronic screening
process by repeating the keywords from the job description.
Speak to the reviewer by mirroring the language in the job
description, excluding superfluous data and focusing your presentation on the
employer's needs and environment.
___Flawless spelling and grammar
Don't rely on spell check. Ask someone you trust to proofread your resume.
General rules to follow: first person is assumed, so avoid it. Bullets should
begin with past tense action verbs, unless they describe your current position.
Incorporate descriptive adjectives, capitalize proper nouns and spell-out
acronyms on first reference.
Include links to your personal Web page, professional
portfolio, blog posts, articles and profiles on professional networking sites.
Don't link to external information that opposes your personal brand.
Professional handles only, avoid "funny" e-mail
addresses and voicemail greetings.
___Headline and qualifications summary
Tell the employer why you're the best candidate for the job
and specify the position you're seeking. Follow with a bulleted summary of your
key competencies, illustrating your match with the critical job requirements. Reviewers
often separate the wheat from the chaff when reading this section.
Provide a list of your technical and non-technical skills
and certifications, duplicating the priority from the job description. Be disciplined;
avoid outdated technology and unrelated skills.
___Generic job titles
Make sure the reviewer understands your prior roles by avoiding
company-specific job titles.
Provide a brief narrative describing each company or
project, your responsibilities and the challenges you faced. This paragraph provides
the reviewer with a backdrop as they analyze your accomplishments.
___Responsibilities, tasks and accomplishments
Segment bullets by type under each position or skill
category, if you've chosen a functional or blended resume format. Order
matters! Always place the most significant items at the top of the list. Squeeze
in "extra" tech skills by providing a short summary under each position.
Validate your brand and the claims in your qualifications
summary by providing numerous examples in your task, responsibility and
accomplishment statements. Quantify your accomplishments and illustrate key
points using charts and graphs.
Choose an advantageous format and stick with it.
___Education, affiliations and awards
Exclude degree dates, unless you're a recent grad. New grads
should list GPAs of 3.0 or higher and help reviewers understand your
qualifications by providing a list of your courses. Include personal
affiliations if they bolster your brand, like being a community leader. Explain
professional awards and why they're significant.
State that references and additional work history are
available upon request.
___ Keyword summary
Conclude with a keyword list that incorporates alternate
spellings and job titles like: database administrator, data base admin and DBA.