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Checklist: 21 Points to Remember When Writing a Resume

June 23, 2011

By Judy Robbins

As promised, here are 21 points you should know when you sit down to write your résumé. Of course, there are many others and quick research will bring those to light. Listed here are important reminders to help you write an effective résumé that is a positive reflection of you and your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. If you are writing your first résumé, or updating an old résumé, watch for my next post that describes the materials you need to have at hand to begin writing your targeted résumé. One of the most critical concepts you will learn is “focus.” Without focus your résumé will lose its impact.

Checklist:  21 Points to Remember When Writing a Resume

  1. Decide on the target job for your résumé and demonstrate your use of key skills in position requirements. Use those that describe your experience accurately. Demonstrate how.
  2. Place your name prominently at the top of page one, bolded and in larger print, 18-20 font size. Use a font size of 11 points for the body of your résumé, depending on the specific font’s characteristics. Use only up to two fonts or two sizes.  Put your name and the page number on following pages.
  3.  Decide if you want to include only your email address as contact information or include your phone or physical address.  Consider security and who will view it. Open a free email account expressly for your job search to protect your identity.
  4.  Keep your résumé short, one to two pages, three for some professionals.
  5.  Make it easy to read with ample white space, clear headings, concise descriptions, and bulleted points to emphasize accomplishments. Maintain consistent formatting throughout.
  6.  Craft a résumé free of complicated jargon or industry buzz words. Remember, it may need to pass muster with an HR generalist first. State accomplishments clearly.
  7.  Limit design elements, sticking with no more than two fonts at most and considering fonts such as New Times Roman in a serif font or, Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana in a sans-serif font.  Choose a font that an ATS (employer’s Applicant Tracking System) will readily accept or it will not be selected. Limit bold and underlining. Your paper choice should be 22 or 24 lb., white with black type.
  8.  Always, always know which format each employer requires for a résumé submission. Will it be presentation paper and print, or ASCII (plain text), PDF, MS Word? Is it snail mail, email attachment, download, or cut and paste to their website? Find out!
  9.  Target every résumé you write for a specific position. One “general” résumé will not do. This means, start with a specific job title headline.
  10.  Find out what problem the employer has and make sure you “solve it”! Do your research, what do they need? What will you do for them?
  11.  Strengthen your résumé. Quantify your accomplishments in numbers:  dollars, percentages, scope.
  12.  Salary information does not belong in your résumé or, for that matter, in initial contacts either.
  13.  Exclude personal information of all kinds including family or hobbies.
  14.  Check spelling and formatting carefully so your résumé is completely error-free.
  15.  Eliminate personal pronouns and begin each descriptive sentence with an action verb. Use present tense in your first job description, and past tense in subsequent ones.
  16.  Avoid overused résumé phrases and create a refreshing but compelling résumé that gets attention.
  17.  In your Experience section, after a brief statement to describe the company and scope of your position, write 2-6 bullet statements underneath with projects, achievements and results (numbers).
  18.  Organize your résumé with relevant major headings. These may be bolded. Include experience, education, and skills.
  19.  Make sure your descriptions show major accomplishments and are not a list of duties and tasks.
  20.  Your education should consist of the school, city and state, degree, and graduation date.  You may include a GPA of 3.0 or above or honors. If there is no college, consider courses, seminars or industry education you have acquired. You may include those.
  21.  Use spell check and proof your résumé at least twice.  Ask at least two others to check it.

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