Published June 26, 2017 by Steven Ruggles
“Is my resume okay?”
That is a question I hear a lot. It’s a fair question - people rarely get feedback on their job applications and without any feedback how are we going to know how to improve?
Below are some tips based on the thousands of resumes I’ve reviewed in the past, along with some clean templates so you have examples of stellar resumes. Because I work in the project delivery space, my examples and experience are all related to project manager, business analyst, and project coordinator resumes.
The first element to check for is the formatting. Inconsistent formatting, over-formatting, dates/bullets not aligned, insufficient white space are all weak points in a resume. Because employers often only glance at a resume for seconds, ensuring that formatting is consistent and aesthetically pleasing is important. This is especially relevant if your resume or cover letter claims strong attention to detail or Microsoft Word skills. Check off the following before you send your resume:
In the example below, note the use of white space, formatting of the dates, ending of one section at the bottom of the page - it all comes together to create a document that is easy to read.
Weak spelling or grammar errors are more common than you would think. A job application takes around an hour if the candidate is focused. That time is wasted if the resume demonstrates weak written communication skills.
Use spell check and always have someone else look over your application. Keep in mind that the most common mistakes are: names, dates, and numbers. Ensure that you don’t apply with a resume claiming to have a starting employment date after the ending date. It’s also not a good sign if you spell the hiring manager’s name incorrectly!
Weak bullets are a discussion of their own in this post. The bullets are the meat of the resume. If a hiring manager is reading the bullets, then they’re already interested (they want you to pass the resume screening just like you want to get that interview). Check your bullets for the following features:
It takes some work to make your resume stand out and there’s no use trying to recreate the wheel here. To that end, VisualCV has some very well formatted project management resume templates (here, here, and here). Use these templates as a guide or check out VisualCV.
A good resume is something you’ll spend very little time on during your lifetime, but it can provide a lot of value, so take the time to make it great.
And remember - stay focused on the parts of your resume that will get you to the interview room. Everything else is just noise.
Did I miss anything? What's your biggest resume faux pas?