Job Search Toolkit

Revamp Your Resume

Your resume makes an important first impression on a future employer. Make sure that it is the right kind of impression.

Take Action:

Review your resume and answer the questions below. Make appropriate changes to your current resume until you can confidently answer “yes” to each of these questions.

1. Is your resume brief? 

Remember that your resume is a marketing tool. It is not an exhaustive list of everything you have ever done. By keeping your resume short, you are demonstrating that you can edit yourself and sell your skills clearly and concisely. If you are graduating or are a recent graduate, limit your resume to one page.

2. Is your contact information “professional?” 

Resumes featuring email addresses like may not seem professional to the company to which you are applying. Make sure your email address and the voicemail greetings on all phone numbers you provided are 100% professionally appropriate.

3. Does your resume include unpaid experience? 

Include internships, volunteer work, and part-time jobs if you achieved significant results or learned important skills in those positions. Just because you did not get compensated for certain work does not mean it should not count as experience on your resume. 

4. Have you quantified your results? 

Employers do not just want to know what you did; they want to know what results you achieved. How many people did you oversee as a store manager? How much money did you save the junior class as Treasurer? Quantifying your accomplishments demonstrates not only what you achieved, but also the fact that you track your results.

5. Have you prioritized your points? 

When you list bullet points under each position or activity on your resume, be sure to place the most important task, accomplishment, or responsibility first. Most readers of your resume will pay close attention to what you have chosen to feature as the first item on each list.

6. Do you customize your resume for different opportunities? 

Employers can tell when they are seeing a generic resume that is being blasted out to everyone else. It is fine to have a resume template, but customize it for various opportunities by featuring the experience, keywords, and activities that best suit the requirements of that particular position.

7. Does your resume include interests that are actually interesting? 

When it comes to listing interests or hobbies on your resume, only mention something that’s particularly unique or memorable. For example, “Founding president of first Tae Kwon Do Club at my university” or “three-time finisher of Chicago Marathon” are noteworthy. Generic interests such as “travel and reading” are nice, but they do not add much.

8. Is your resume free of the line “References available upon request?”

Do not waste precious space on your resume with “References available upon request.” Potential employers will request a list of references if they want it.

9. Does your resume contain the truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth? 

There are so many reasons not to lie on a resume. First of all, if your lie gets discovered, you will lose a job opportunity with that company forever. Second, if you exaggerate your skills, such as being fluent in French when you really just studied it in junior high, your bluff will become extremely obvious the day you start your job and lack the skills you reported. Cast yourself in the most positive light, but do not take it too far.

10. Have you proofread your resume multiple times? 

There is absolutely, positively no excuse for a single typo or grammar mistake on a resume. Once you have proofread your resume and feel confident that it is perfect, have at least two other people review it for mistakes, misspellings, and formatting glitches. 

Below are some resume writing resources that you might want to check out for additional information.

Be Sharp: "Tell Me About Yourself" in Great Introductions and Professional Bios by Paula Asinof and Mina Brown

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers Paperback  By Richard N. Bolles

The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success (Touchstone Books) by Nicholas Lore