The 20-point Resume Writing Checklist

The 20-point Resume Writing Checklist

20 Point Resume Checklist - The Resume Builder SingaporeLooking to spruce up your resume for the big 2015 job hunt? Run it through the resume writing tips and checkpoints below to give it an instant polish!

  1. Profile summary – Start your resume with a summary section (NOT objective statement) that sets the tone and provides immediate focus with this simple format: “Current role” seeks to help “potential hiring firm” do/ understand “main problems” in order to “results to be achieved.” Include other standout achievements, mentions, or certification. A well-written summary captures your “essence” in a single glance, and gives the reader a snapshot of your experience, skill sets and core competencies immediately. Limit to 100 words.
  2. Keywords – Scan the job description and requirements for the role you are applying for; wherever possible, try to incorporate as many keywords into your resume as possible to immediately establish relevance and connection with the reader. If you are in sales, your resume should contain keywords like “targets,” “quotas” and ranking information.
  3. Accomplishment – Does your work history only show what you do or does it capture how well you did what you do? Convey the value of your accomplishments by capturing quantifiable metrics (e.g. $$ or % values), observable changes and contextualization. Equally as important, you need to know what your industry/ function values most (see no. 15).
  4. Relevance of data – Ask yourself if a piece of information sells you or conveys value. There is no one-size-fits-all rule in deciding on information to retain or omit. E.g. if you graduated with 3rd class honors, leave it out; if you graduated with 1st class honors, be sure to make mention.
  5. Check Margins – Print out a copy to see how the resume looks when printed; make sure all headers, footers, and margins are displayed and not cut off. As a guide, margins should be no less than .65 on the right and left and .6 on the top and bottom.
  6. Assess White Space – Ensure that text can “breathe.” Alternate between bullet points and paragraph. Try to keep bullets to 2 lines; paragraphs to 3 lines.
  7. Color – A splash of color may add huge impact. Use with discretion.
  8. Font size – Print out a hard copy to ensure fonts are not too big or small. Suggestion: Palatino Linotype (point size 10) or Calibri – a hybrid font that reads well both in a printed document and on an electronic screen- (point size 10.5). On the other hand, feel free to experiment (strategically) with point sizes, formatting adjustments or symbols/ graphics for dynamic impact. The safest would be Arial 10. Remember: readability is the priority.
  9. Dates – Roles should be listed in reverse chronology order, with your most recent job first and earliest job at the bottom. If you are concerned about age discrimination, it is fine to limit your work history to the most recent 15 years or so. Extra tip: be discreet about your year of graduation from school.
  10. Verbs – Use strong action verbs to convey energy and impact. Instead of using “managed or “implemented” repetitively, try “orchestrated,” “leveraged,” “pioneered” and so on; instead of “developed,” try “architected.”
  11. Readability – The reader must be able to easily access key information based on how it is structured and positioned. The formatting should be intuitive, and the logic of the document’s design obvious to the reader.
  12. Spelling/ typos – Do not merely rely on your spell-checker; some words may be wrongly spelt but not flagged e.g. “manger” instead of “manager.” Ensure consistency of spelling style (American vs. British). Double and triple check your personal information such as telephone number and email address; one wrong character can cost you a job, for obvious reasons.
  13. Number form and usage – Be consistent. If it’s $25mil, ensure it’s not SGD25 million elsewhere. If it’s 25%, check to see that it’s not 25 percent in another section (the former is more commonly accepted).
  14. Industry jargons and acronyms – Be mindful of your readers, especially when applying across industries or functions. Common acronyms such as CEO or MBA aside, always spell out in full or contextualize e.g. “Implemented accounting software SAP in all departments,” not just “Implemented SAP in all departments.” When in doubt, never assume that the reader will know. Spell it out.
  15. Extraneous words and repetition – Eliminate redundant words like “responsible for… “ E.g. “Responsible for generating monthly reports” can be shortened to “Generated monthly reports” while retaining the meaning of the content. Also to eliminate: “and etc.” or “and other ad-hoc responsibilities.” Such phrases convey no value to the reader.
  16. Check spacing – Use single spacing between sentences. Remove accidental double spaces in other areas using the Right Click function and selecting “Paragraph”. Ensure consistent type and spacing of bullets.
  17. Doc. format – Keep resume in .doc format (.docX is not fully accepted, so don’t risk it). Name it clearly: “Name_Resume for XXX”
  18. Eliminate orphans – Edit and edit. Cut orphaned words (an orphan is 1 word on a line).Or, if it spills over slightly to the last page by a few lines, try to trim it back.
  19. Verb tenses – Examine verb tenses and apply them consistently. Use current tenses to describe job descriptions of current roles, and past tenses for previous roles.
  20. Personal pronouns – Do not use “I”, “the”, “a” or “an”. Instead of using complete sentences, e.g. “I was promoted to Director of Sales,” use sentence fragments: “Promoted to Director of Sales.” It is understood that your resume is talking about none other than yourself; this form of sentence not only saves precious space, but projects a more professional, concise tone.



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