You’ve been drafting and editing (and re-editing) your resume for a few hours now…or a few weeks. And you’re starting to find posts for ideal open positions that won’t stay open for long. Should you just roll the dice and start submitting applications, ready or not? Or should you keep picking at your resume a little while longer, perfecting every line and giving yourself every opportunity for success? How do you know when it’s time to click send? Start by checking off each item on the list below.
1. Your resume and your cover letter are both about one page long.
A quick glance will help readers estimate the time it will take to review your materials, and it if this estimate is too long, you may be overlooked. Your resume should be one or two pages long, and your cover letter should fill about one page. Since your resume may not be printed out and your letter may be read and processed in email format, this means each document should fall between 300 and 500 words in 11 point font.
2. Your resume looks visually appealing.
Is your text balanced on the page? Are your phrases and subheadings broken by line spaces so they don’t read as a solid block of text? Are the titles of your subsections clear? Is your font simple and straightforward? Are there any strange problems with the page, like an explained gap of white space or a sudden line break in the middle of a sentence?
3. Your contact information is correct.
Double and triple check this. There’s nothing worse than a manager who loves your credentials but can’t get ahold of you.
4. Your subheadings are all there.
You have a summary, an education section, a relevant experience section, and a final section that lists and describes your special skills. All there? Great. Check.
5. Your dates and quantifiers are all present and accurate.
There’s no excuse for “accidentally” adding a few years to the amount of time you held your previous job…or a few points to your GPA, or a few imaginary people to the team you used to manage. Quantify your accomplishments and do so in a way that’s accurate and honest.
6. Your relevant positions are present and accounted for.
You deleted your old job as a marketing intern because it isn’t relevant to your targeted position…or is it? If you can draw any parallel between the two that might interest your target employer, take advantage of that opportunity.
7. Your adverbs are under control.
If your resume includes any adverbs at all (like “successfully”, “nearly”, “quickly”, “accurately”, “decisively”, etc, etc), make sure these words are essential to the meaning of the sentence or phrase. If not, delete them. Take the same merciless approach to buzzwords, acronyms, and “business” jargon.
8. Your “skills” section is complete.
Don’t submit your resume and then realize you missed a key skill five minutes later. Include the languages you speak, the software programs you’ve mastered, and all relevant presentation and communication skills (like sales, public speaking, writing, and customer service).
9. Take one last look for spelling and grammatical errors.
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