Do you have a polished and perfect resume? Here are 6 key resume elements to double-check – plus some bonus proofreading tips to make sure your resume is completely error-free!
1. Contact Information
Double- and triple-check that your contact information is correct – you do want that hiring manager or recruiter to be able to call you, right? Also, use a professional email address. Include your home address (street, city, state/province) if you’re applying for local jobs; omit your address if you’re applying for out-of-town jobs.
Also, don't forget to include your LinkedIn URL. You can learn more about optimizing your LinkedIn Profile with this free guide.
2. Resume Title
All resumes should have a title. The title is positioned below your name and contact information. If you’re applying for a job similar to your current job, or for a position that’s a step up from your current role, you can simply use your current position title.
If you work somewhere with wonky job titles, you may want to alter your title for a wider audience. “Sales Representative” is more recognizable than “Customer Advocate”, “Retail Jedi”, or “Sales Ninja”.
This is the sales pitch, the value proposition, the “why you want to keep reading”, compelling, attention-grabber. [Note: This is not an objective statement] The summary section could be (and will be) an entire blog article on it’s own. But, let’s cover the basics:
The summary is positioned just under the title and is usually 1-3 short paragraphs. One paragraph will suffice for many entry-level, less-seasoned, or trade professionals. Two to three paragraphs is more appropriate for a Senior-level to C-suite executive with extensive experience. And – by “short paragraphs”, I mean 2-4 sentences max. Long, dense paragraphs are less likely to be read by a hiring manager.
Essentials to Include: Number of years’ experience, industry or specialty areas, notable career highlights, and softer skills that are not necessarily appropriate elsewhere in the resume (polished communicator, motivating team leader, natural relationship builder, etc.).
4. Key Skills/Areas of Expertise
I always think of this section as the “Hiring Manager’s Checklist”. I list skills most relevant and important to the hiring manager in this section. This is one of the easiest places to tailor your resume for a specific job - swap-out/in skills depending on the unique requirements of the job.
Re-read the job ad multiple times to be sure you have captured the key points. You can’t go wrong making life easier for the person who will read your resume!
This section typically looks best as columns or a table (not one long list of bullets) and I’d recommend 9 – 12 total skills.
5. Professional Experience
This is another resume section that requires its own blog post. But for now, let’s stay focused on what you should be looking for before you hit “send”. Include: company names, company locations, job titles, and the dates you worked there (you can note just the years – 2009 – 2012 instead of May 2009 – August 2012).
Outline your responsibilities and – most importantly – include some accomplishments/significant contributions.
Grammar Hint: Bullets in this section are usually considered sentences – so use periods.
This may seem like the most straightforward section, but many people tend to get confused about including graduation dates. Here’s my rule (which works in most cases): if you’re a new graduate (within the past 5 years) with limited work experience (and you need to “explain” your lack of experience), include the dates.
If you graduated more than 5 years ago, leave the dates off. Graduation dates can detract from your resume and leave you open to age discrimination.
Also, if you have a post-secondary degree, omit your high school education – it’s no longer relevant.
Professional Proofreading Tips
Put your resume aside for a day or two. You’d be shocked how many mistakes you can catch if you give yourself some “distance” from the document.
Read it bottom-to-top (the reverse of what you intend the reader to do). The strangeness of reading the document out of order will keep you from skimming too quickly over the text and help you catch mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise see.
Change the file to plain text – This is one of my best proofreading tips (I use this strategy with every resume I write). It’s especially useful if you need "fresh eyes" to send your resume out quickly. Make a plain text copy of your resume (along with your Word or PDF version). This will create a dramatic change in font and formatting; lines won’t necessarily end where they did on the Word document, the text/words will look foreign, and your brain will think it’s looking at something totally new – which is exactly the point. Bonus – the plain text version is perfect for online applications that ask you to copy and paste your resume.
Read Aloud – this strategy can also be quite helpful, but since resume writing omits pronouns, it may sound a bit awkward to an untrained ear. That’s not reason enough not to try it though!
Still questioning the effectiveness of your resume? I'd love to take a look! Contact me here or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy Banfield is a professional resume writer and certified career coach who specializes in helping talented and ambitious women advance their careers and find rewarding, fulfilling jobs. Tammy has helped over 600 career seekers from around the world secure coveted positions. Want to know how to get headhunted? Download my free guide here: tammybanfield.com/freelinkedinguide