How to Write a Resume
- Write your name, email address, and phone number at the top.
- Verify that your email address and related contact information sound professional.
- Include the jobs that are most relevant to your target industry.
- Describe each company, job title, your responsibilities, and your accomplishments. Be specific!
- Summarize this experience in a separate “Key Skills” section.
- Copy your text into a resume template that fits the tone of your industry.
- Verify that your text is aligned, consistent in format, and clickable when linking to samples.
- Incorporate keywords that automated resume scanners might look for.
- Proofread for grammar, brevity, and specific action verbs.
- Convert your resume to a PDF file.
I can’t think of many tasks people dread more than writing a resume. There are so many little things you need to add, rephrase, check, double-check, triple-check … and yet, somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as “Corey Wainwrite” from “HubStop.” It’s anxiety-inducing.
So, I did what I do when I’m anxious: I made a list of all the little things you need to do when writing and editing your resume.
Here’s my checklist of resume tips — and I wish you the best of luck with your job search.
The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips
I’ve divided all the must-do tasks into four sections and did my best to order them chronologically. Some could probably exist in more than one section or be completed in a different order, so I’ve ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-writing process.
Is Your Contact Information Professional? Things to Check:
Have you included your basic contact information — including your name, email address, and phone number — at the top?
Is your email address associated with a familiar domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)
Do your resume details align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will likely review both.)
Have you included links to social media profiles, portfolios, and a personal website if relevant?
Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available to the public?
Have you customized any communication within your resume that addresses the company or hiring manager by name?
If you’re sending your resume as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it (or opened up permissions to everyone)?
Is Your Resume Written for the Industry? Things to Check:
Are you writing in a tone that matches that of the company to which you’re applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying to work at a new tech startup versus an established accounting firm.)
Have you customized your resume for the specific job to which you’re applying? (Highlight work experience and skills that are relevant to the position — don’t just write down every job you’ve ever held.)
Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, rather than you-focused? (You don’t need one, but you do need a “Key Skills” section that summarizes who you are and what you can offer the company.)
Have you included both accomplishments and responsibilities under each job? (Both should be easy to ascertain when scanning your resume.)
Have you used numbers and metrics where possible to better convey your success? (For example: “Generated 150 marketing-qualified leads.”)
Do you illustrate career progression? Is it clear that you were promoted, gained additional responsibility, or switched jobs laterally to acquire more skills?
Have you listed not only the names of companies, but a short description of what each company does?
Have you included your tenure at each company?
Have you included relevant information about your education?
Have you added anything that points to your personality or interests outside of work?
Does your unique value proposition shine through? (E.g., something that makes you stand out from other applicants, or highlights that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.)
If relevant for the position, have you included links to a portfolio or samples of your work?
Have you included reference names and their contact information, or simply, “references available upon request”? (Both are okay — just be sure to use at least one to indicate that you even have references.)
Is Your Resume Properly Formatted and Designed? Things to Check:
Have you used a resume template so the layout of your resume is visually appealing and easy to read? (Get 10 free templates here.)
Is your resume too creative? (For instance, if you’re applying for a creative position and have formatted your resume as an infographic … is it really simple enough to read, or is it best to save that creativity for your portfolio?)
Have you selected a clear, easy-to-read font? Is your name clearly stated at the top? (It’s a good idea to make your name slightly larger than all other text — employers read many resumes every week, and you need to be memorable.)
Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, such as bullet points and header text?
Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you’ve bolded job titles, are all job titles indeed bolded?)
Are your margins even?
Are all items properly aligned? (For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?)
Are all links you’ve included clickable?
Have you converted your resume to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended, without downloading specific fonts or needing special software? (A PDF format is recommended.)
Is Your Resume Edited and Polished? Things to Check:
Have you included keywords in your resume? (If you’re submitting to an automated system, it might be critical to getting past filters. Be sure your resume directly reflects some of the software and skills mentioned in the job description.)
Have you edited it for brevity? (Try to keep your resume to about one page per 10 years of job experience, if possible.)
Have you removed irrelevant job experiences?
Is each section of your resume ranked in a way that highlights your skills and what you have to offer the employer? (For instance, if you’re a recent graduate with internships in different fields, you might list your most relevant experience at the top, instead of ordering everything by date.)
Have you edited out generic action verbs in favor of more specific ones? (For instance, “managed” instead of simply “worked.”)
Have you made use of a thesaurus to prevent monotony?
Have you found more professional alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms? (“Tasked with,” for example, can make you seem less proactive than someone who “coordinated” various projects regardless of who told them to.)
Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might be redundant to mention that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word or capable of using email.)
Have you done a sweep for annoying jargon or business babble? (Everything should be clearly articulated, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand what you do.)
Is everything 100% true? (If you write that you’re fluent in a foreign language on your resume, you should be prepared to speak that language during your interview. If you say you like baking, you should be ready to explain which ingredients you need for certain dishes.)
Have you conducted spelling grammar checks?
Finally, have you asked a friend who hasn’t read your resume before to provide a final glance for errors, inconsistencies, or confusing phrasing?
If you’ve checked the boxes of all the resume tips that apply to you, you should be ready to submit your application.
P.S. We’re hiring.