Resume Quick Tips and Checklist

Already have a resume? Just converted your CV to a resume? Double-check it below. 

  • Is your resume general or specific to one job?
    • Try to tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for. You want to think about your “Relevant Experiences,” “objective,” and “Summary of Skills” section as fluid sections that can be changed and tailored to each specific job posting.
  • Is your resume dense and persuasive?
    • Remember that a resume is a persuasive document. Employers look at resumes to decide who they will hire based on the skills each candidate communicates via their resume. It is important to closely examine the job description to make sure that you are addressing what the job requires. You may be a very qualified applicant but if your resume doesn't show how your skills apply to the job, your potential employer won't be able to see this.
  • Did you include keywords from the job description?
    • Closely examine the job description. Often, resumes are scanned through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. This software is looking for keywords and the number of uses in your resume. Hiring managers may use this information to filter applications. Even if a resume is not scanned through ATS, potential employers are still looking for these keywords.
  • Show your resume to a friend or colleague. Is it easy to read?
    • Make sure your resume is easy to read. This means having white space (at least .5 inch margin on all sides), readable font (both in size and style; use between 11-12 point font and a legible font such as Arial or Times New Roman).
  • Did you use capitalization, bold lettering, or spacing to guide your reader through your resume?
    • Try to guide your reader through your resume by strategically using capital letters, bold print, and spacing.
  • Did you use active verbs in the correct tense?
    • Remember to use action verbs in short concise sentences or bullet points when describing your experiences.
    • Not sure what an active verb is? Visit our tutorial and list to find out more information. 
  • Have you used numbers? Did you quantify what you did?
    • Use numbers and quantify your experience whenever possible. For instance, “counseled students” becomes “counseled five to eight students for sixty minutes in one-on-one sessions on a daily basis.” Be as specific as possible.
  • Is your resume one to two pages?
    • While CVs can be very long, resumes should only be between one to two pages.
  • Did you use clear language? Did you spell-out abbreviations the first time you used them?
    • Be careful not to use jargon or abbreviations without spelling them out first—even if it seems obvious to you. Remember that a Human Resources staff member will most likely be the first person to take a look at your resume and they may have a different set of industry knowledge than you.
  • Have you made your resume readable by a general audience?
    • Likewise, you'll want to translate your academic experience into one suitable for a nonacademic audience. People who've worked in different industries might not know what a TA, postdoc, or graduate research assistant is. Instead, focus on descriptions about those experiences so the employer can understand what skills you have from that experience.
  • Did you put your contact information on your resume (Name, phone number, professional or permanent address, e-mail)?
    • Be sure to include your contact information on your resume.
    • Keep personal information such as a photo, your age, marital status, race, height, or weight off of your resume. 
  • Does your resume have a consistent style throughout?
    • Make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume in formatting and style. Did you capitalize the same articles? Is the spacing and font consistent?
  • Did you proofread your resume? Did you show it to a friend to proofread it for you?
    • Proofread your resume. Ask a friend or colleague to proofread your resume.
    • Try to think of your resume as a reflection of you as an employee. Do you want to come across as professional and organized? Use your resume to show this.

Ready to create your cover letter? Visit our Creating a Cover Letter FAQ and Cover Letter How-To for more information. 

Want someone to look at your resume or cover letter? Make an appointment with one of our Career Counselors today!