In today’s job search, it is vital that you complete an evaluation of your resume before you respond to a job advertisement—each and every time. It is not enough to create a generic document and throw it at every position that looks like it might fit. Between ATS software and other screening tactics, recruiters and hiring managers spend a lot of time figuring out how to disqualify applicants before your resume is even read.
10 Expert Resume Evaluation Tips for Remote Workers
As a professional resume writer, I have rewritten hundreds and hundreds of resumes. Over the years, I have found that there are some mistakes many jobseekers make that seriously jeopardize their interview opportunities. A candidate may have the perfect background for a position, but the smallest errors can cost them the job. Mistakes vary from minor spelling problems to major formatting issues, but they all result in the same disappointing outcome. To help you out, I have created the following 10 tips that you can use to complete your own resume evaluation and maximize your chances of landing an interview.
1. Did you include your contact information and is it correct?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you correctly include your personal information. Then double-check and triple-check your contact information for any errors or typos. It should be clearly presented, concise, and easy to find. You don’t want to keep potential employers guessing.
- Your name should be consistent on all job search documents, including social media profiles such as LinkedIn.
- Your full name and contact information should appear on all pages of your resume.
- Only include one phone number, not two or three. Just one. Your cell phone number is usually best, as that is usually the best number to reach you at.
- Include your city and state, but don’t worry about including your mailing address. Unless they are mailing you something (which is very unlikely), they do not need to know.
- The most important contact information is your email address. So make sure you don’t have any typos! Also, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated email account for job searches and online profiles. If possible, use the firstname.lastname@example.org format.
- Finally, include your LinkedIn URL. If a potential employer is looking at you seriously, they will definitely look for a LinkedIn account. Save them some time and provide the URL on all your job search documents.
2. Are you using an appropriate resume format?
Evaluate your resume to ensure you are using an appropriate format. One mistake I see frequently is a functional resume format. Even if you have no experience in the field, it is important to use a reverse-chronological format for all sections of your resume. This includes your professional experience, education, and any additional training, certifications, or memberships in professional organizations.
Hiring managers dislike functional formats because they make it more difficult to connect a skill to a specific position. In addition, it is much easier for applicants to add fluff and gloss over any issues, such as employment gaps. There are other ways to present your transferrable skills and to highlight your relevant experience and abilities when you are just starting out or during a career change. The best way is to use the top third of the first page. Include a sentence that summarizes how your employment and/or education background can apply to the new field. Next, group your relevant skills into 3–4 bullet points.
3. Is your resume too long, too short, or just right?
It is also important your resume evaluation includes length. Unless you are applying for an academic/research position or a government position through USA Jobs, your document should be no more than two pages. Your resume is a marketing document, not an exhaustive list of everything you have ever done. It’s important to highlight your accomplishments and skills as presented in the job ad, so keep the information in your resume targeted and concise.
I frequently see people with extensive experience use a one-page resume. While there are many proponents of a one-page resume, if you have more than five years of experience and/or need to list more than two or three positions, you should definitely extend beyond one page.
4. Are you using a simple, appropriate layout?
Everyone wants their resume to look good. However, there are reasons most people are not graphic designers. Many times when jobseekers attempt to aesthetically improve their resume, they end up looking crowded, overdone, and hard to read. In addition, the all-important ATS software does not read graphics and charts and may actually disqualify your resume before human eyes even see it.
Follow the “K-I-S-S” rule (keep it simple stupid) when designing your resume. Simple horizontal lines and shading can go a long way to professionally organizing your resume in a visually pleasing way. Limited use of columns and tables is also effective. Do not include your photo, the logos of your previous employers, emojis or animations. Sometimes, artwork, graphics and animations may be appropriate. However, if you have any doubt, leave them out. You are likely just creating a reason for your resume to be discarded.
Almost as important as the information on the page is the white space. Thinks of white space as pauses for the eye. Just looking at large blocks of text makes people tired. Keep your text blocks short, about 4–6 lines, using bullet points and bold text to highlight important points. Leave space between these highlighted sections to allow the eye to rest.
5. Is your language appropriate, including the use of action verbs?
Check over the language you are using in your resume. Is it action-oriented and engaging? If not, are you using passive language, run-on sentences, and obscure words? It is important your resume evaluation includes language. You want your resume to be interesting and easy-to-read.
- Resumes are written in an implied first-person format. This requires that you do not use any personal pronouns but also make sure each sentence could be started with a personal pronoun.
- Next, make sure you use the present tense to describe your current position and past tense for all previous positions. These should all be engaging and action-oriented. For example, managed, delivered, planned, etc.
- Finally, avoid jargon and spell out acronyms. While you may think the terms you use are standard across your industry, often, they are not. In addition, the initial human resources employee or recruiter who views your resume may not have specialized knowledge.
6. Are there any typos?
You have probably heard this many times before, but typos are the quickest way to get your resume thrown in the garbage. Review your resume for typos, spelling mistakes, and overall readability many times. When you are finished, let your family and friends read it over many times as well.
7. Is your resume optimized for the position you are applying for?
If you are interested in a position, it is worth taking the time to customize your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers can tell a generic resume from a targeted one. Complete and evaluation of your resume for how easily and quickly a potential employer can identify the information important to them.
- Start with the title of your resume. Does it match or is it similar to the job title of the position you are applying for? It is both important to title your resume and that the title reflects the position. A lot of resumes I see don’t have a title at all, which means the hiring manager has to dig into the resume just to make sure you are applying for the right job.
- Have you identified the keywords in the job ad and made sure you resume represents them, as applicable? Identify the keywords and terminology in the ad that apply to you, and make sure employers can find these easily by skimming your document. Note differences in terminology and adjust your resume to match their language.
- Is it easy for someone who reads your resume to match the requirements listed in the job ad to your skills and experience? Identify where in your resume your skills and experience match up with those in the job ad. Make sure the language matches, as discussed above, and adjust the format to highlight how you match these requirements. Consider using bold text and bullet points to help.
8. Where are your accomplishments?
Probably the most common mistake people make on their resume is not including their accomplishments. There are many excuses for this. “I don’t have any accomplishments,” is the most frequent. However, everyone has accomplishments. An accomplishment is merely the positive outcome of a job-related activity.
Evaluate your resume by looking at the responsibilities on your job description and reorganizing them into an accomplishment formula:
- Outcome + what you did + why you did it.
Going forward, make sure you keep a running list of your accomplishments as they happen and make it a habit to collect any metrics you can associate with your activities. This will make it much easier to update your resume when the time comes to look for another job.
9. Does the information on your resume agree with your social media profiles?
Interested employers frequently run social media and internet searches. Make sure the information that comes up about you on social media agrees with details supplied on your resume. This includes elements like dates and job history. It is also important to note information listed that is not accurate.
There is not much you can do about inaccurate information in most instances, as there will always be people with the same name and companies looking to sell information about you. Still, it is good to know what an employer might find in a search. If there is something terrible or inaccurate that comes up in your search, you may want to mention it upfront in your email or cover letter. This is another good reason to have an up-to-date LinkedIn account that you can direct them to.
10. Watch out for logical gates
As mentioned above, hiring managers are looking for reasons to screen out your resume so they can end up with a manageable number to review. One way they like to do this is by including “logical gates” in their job ads. These are basically a bunch of specialized instructions for applicants to follow. Most of these instructions apply to answering specific questions, including specific information, or following a specific process in order to have your resume reviewed. Be careful to note these instructions and review your resume to ensure you follow them to the letter.
If you have completed your resume evaluation using the tips above, you can rest assured that you have maximized the chances your resume will receive a fair review. Still have resume questions? Check out our Career Services page and let our expert team review yours!
Which of these resume evaluation tips do you find most helpful? Are there others we missed? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to let us know. We would love to know what you have to say!
iStock Photo Credit: 1. SeventyFour
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