4 critical review areas for updating your resume

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 17

Time for a resume review

Reviewing a resume is an important process for a job applicant. Without a good resume – meaning one in which the person or machine reading it wants to learn more about you through an interview – you won’t get a shot at that interview and the job you applied to get.

But, what, exactly, should you review?

When I do my Killer Resume Reviews for clients, I’m looking for some specific items and themes – stuff that a machine or person reading the resume will cause them to want to interview you. And that’s all a resume does, you know; get you the first interview. (Interviewing is a whole different skill set and not part of this post…)

Let’s take a look at the big areas that I look at when I do a resume review.

Contact Information

About 10% of the resumes I review have something incorrect about the contact information. Something in the formatting or spelling of the address or phone. Or something else. One wouldn’t think this part would be a problem – until it is a problem. So I check.

Job Skills

Job skills are the currency of the resume. Most people do not put enough job skills on the resume to trigger someone (or machine) to say, “Yes, this person has the job skills I’m looking for to fill this position.” Job skills are almost an afterthought rather than one of the most important areas to complete.

Placement of the job skills is another problem I see on resumes. The job skills are all over the place on the resume when they should be consolidated into one section so the person or machine looking at the resume will see everything in one place.

What I look for in job skills, then, are completeness and the grouping of them on the resume.

Business results from the work

Far too many resumes have the responsibilities of the job down on the resume and few, if any, results from that work. But if you think about it, the job responsibilities for a given title are pretty much the same no matter the company. Companies even try to standardize the responsibilities because that is how they figure out how much an employee should be paid for the work.

It’s not like an Infrastructure Project Manager or DBA or Emergency Room Nurse or Asset Financial Analysts have different job responsibilities within their job title. Between job titles, yes, and there are some varying responsibilities depending on what type of project manager or nurse position your background contains. But, an Infrastructure Project Manager has pretty much the same job responsibilities in any company. So putting your responsibilities on the resume doesn’t help your cause in getting the interview.

Instead, the resume should have your business results from the work that you do for a particular position. Hiring managers want to know you can produce because your job skills producing results means the manager can get things done and meet his or her goals.

The first page

I’m not one that thinks your resume needs to be one page. Or two pages. It needs to be as long as it needs to be to help get you the interview.

But, I DO believe that the first page is critically important in getting the interview. You have to have a point of view on that first page that says you have the job skills and accomplishments to go with them that will make the person or machine reading your resume give you an interview. If the first page can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the resume looks like or how awesome it comes across.

If you fail on the first page, you fail the resume and don’t get the interview.

The rest of the story

Of course, I look at all of the sections on the resume when I do the review and provide feedback on every section. One should look at the format of the overall resume. Check the Education and Professional sections. Make sure what is inside the position for results make sense.

But the big picture is this: you have to get contacted to get an interview. You have to have the job skills to do the job. You have to have results so a hiring manager believes you can help him or her reach their business goals. And your first page needs to nail the fact that you have skills and results.

Or you won’t get the interview.

What area of the resume is the hardest for you to do?