Whew! You’ve revised your resume, updated all of the information on it and incorporated all of the right keywords. You must be exhausted and so ready to apply to your dream job. However, before uploading that PDF resume, there are a few key things to double-check.
The number one thing to check on your resume before clicking ‘submit’ is your grammar and spelling. Don’t just rely on Microsoft Word to catch misspellings — read and re-read your resume to catch potential errors. Then, send your resume to a friend to have them read through with a ‘fine tooth comb’.
2. Correct Tense (Past vs. Present)
As a general rule, if an action or accomplishment on your resume is in the past, use the past tense. However, if you are speaking about a current role and current accomplishments, use the present tense. Hiring managers cringe when they see this mistake on a resume, so as you’re editing, be sure to use the correct tense: manage vs. managed, deliver vs. delivered, execute vs. executed.
Clarity is key. Your resume should clearly state what you do, what you have accomplished, and what your narrative is. If you are applying to be a social media manager, make sure your experience in that field shines through in your resume. Sure, you have also worked in PR or marketing, but when a hiring manager looks at your resume, they should be clear about the narrative you're trying to tell. You can ensure that hiring managers and recruiters are clear by focusing your resume on the job you want, not just the jobs you've had.
4. Font & Size Consistency
A pet-peeve of recruiters is a resume with three or five different fonts. Stick to the basics — Helvetica, Times New Roman, Lato. Resist the urge to “stand out from the crowd” by employing multiple fonts and various sizes. Two fonts and two sizes, max.
5. Remove Unnecessarily Lofty Language
A resume is not the place to get verbose or to use highfalutin language. Get it?! If you don’t normally use certain language, do not pick up the thesaurus to try to include the most “smart-sounding” words you can find. A resume should be an accurate and complimentary reflection of you and your work product. Using lofty language is a surefire recruiter turn-off.
6. Delivery Format — PDF, please!
You’ve spent hours formatting your resume and getting the bullet points to line up perfectly so that your entire work history fits on two pages. Don’t lose that perfect format by sending a resume as a Microsoft Word doc. Use a PDF and ensure clear delivery. And don’t worry: PDF resumes are no longer a problem for an employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS). Keyword searches and matching requirements will still be possible in a PDF format.
7. Use Numbers & Facts Where Applicable
“Substantiate your accomplishments with numbers,” says Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer at Decision Toolbox. Some recruiters prefer to see actual numbers (such as “cut manufacturing costs by $500,000”), while others prefer percentages (“cut manufacturing costs by 15 percent”). Either way, provide enough context to show the impact and do not rely on generalities to get your point across.
8. File Naming Convention
Please refrain from naming your resume file “Resume.pdf” or “JacksonResume.pdf” try to be specific. This is for your benefit as well as the recruiter. The best way to name a resume is to include your full name, month, and year. For example, “AmyElisaJackson-May2017.pdf.” This lets the recruiter know who you are and reminds you of the date of the last revision of this resume. This way, you won’t be confused by which draft is which.
When editing a resume or CV, the sole focus is often on the content. However, it’s important to think about the ease (or difficulty) of reviewing the resume. Ensuring your resume is readable is an important final check before submitting it alongside a job application. After all, your resume is a crucial test not only of your skills but of your ability to communicate clearly, succinctly and in a reader-friendly way. Cut the clutter. Hold your resume away from you and look at it from afar — if it looks like a lot to read, then it is. Make sure to leave some white, blank space for ease of reading. Consider using bold font to draw the reader’s eye to important accomplishments, companies, or results. This gives a recruiter or hiring manager the ability to skim and instantly see the key points.
10. Fact check
Fact-checking your resume is a must. It’s too easy to fib or tell little white lies when it comes to your impact on a project or when it comes to your skills. A final read through of your resume should be an 'honesty gut-check.' “Skills are the most common resume lies,” writes career expert Heather Huhman. “Telling the truth about your skills can set you up for success. You can still land the [job] by being honest, and can gain valuable training and learning experiences on the job.”