The new year is a time of excitement and renewal for many people with pledges to get fit, volunteer more, and generally incorporate positive habits into their life.
If one of your goals this year is to pursue a new career, the first place you should start is updating your resume.
As I have said many times before, the best candidate often doesn’t get selected for an interview because they haven’t written their resume in a way that makes their qualifications and experience stand out.
Here is a simple checklist you should review before pressing the ‘send’ button.
Are your name and contact information clear? Include your email address and a phone number to be reached easily. You can omit your home (civic) address.
Do you have a professional-sounding email address? Get rid of old ones from your college days (e.g. email@example.com).
Is your email address from a professional domain? Discard the vintage ones like Hotmail.
Have you included links to your social media, especially LinkedIn? Does the content on your resume align with the content on LinkedIn?
Have you checked to ensure nothing on social media will present you in an unfavourable light?
Is everything on your resume truthful and accurate? Don’t forget – presenting misleading details on your resume can be grounds for dismissal.
Have you customized your resume to the job and company to which you are applying?
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, the 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 not a well-known company?
Have you listed your work-related accomplishments? Employers do not want just a long list of your duties and responsibilities?
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 the 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?
Have you included a list of your interests outside of work if you think this list will increase your chances of being selected for an interview?
Have you avoided using jargon or abbreviations that might limit the reader’s understanding of your capabilities?
Are there keywords included in your resume in case the employer uses an applicant tracking system to screen resumes?
Is your resume visually appealing?
Have you used a clean, easy-to-read typeface such as Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, or Cambria?
Is your font size between 10 and 12 point to make it easier on the reader’s eyes? Have you used this font consistently on your resume and cover letter?
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 appropriately to draw attention to a heading?
Have you used bullets (which are easier to read) to list your accomplishments?
Is your resume an appropriate length? A two-page resume should be sufficient to illustrate your relevant skills, although no one will object if it goes to a third page.
Have you saved your resume as a PDF before emailing? Never send your resume as a Word doc.
Have you saved your resume with a name that makes sense to the receiver? Try using “Resume – your name.”
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?