Resume Checklist

As you plan, write, or review your resume, keep these points in mind:

1.) Readability: are there any dense paragraphs? Think about your audience and try to keep paragraphs under six lines long.

2.) White space: Find ways to incorporate more white space in the margins and between sections of the resume.

3.) Special format: Make sure that you use special format consistently throughout the resume. For example, if you use a heading style for the work-experience section, use the same in the education section as well.

4.) Consistent margins: Make sure to align all appropriate text to the resume’s margins. Avoid unnecessary multiple margins: they give your resume a ragged messy look.

5.) Terse writing style: It’s OK to use a short, clipped writing style. Leave out personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine, etc.): instead of “I supervised a team of five technicians…” go straight to the verb and say instead “Supervised team of five technicians…”

6.) Bold, italics, different type size, caps, other typographical special effects: Too much fancy typography can be distracting (plus make people think you are hyperactive). Also, whatever special typography you use, be consistent with it throughout the resume. If some job titles are italics, make them all italics. Avoid all-caps text—it’s less readable.

7). Page fill: Do everything you can to make your resume fill out one full page and to keep it from spilling over by four or five lines to a second page. At the beginning of your career, it’s tough filling up a full page of a resume. As you move into your career, it gets hard keeping it to one page. If you need a two-page resume, see that the second page is full or nearly full.

8.) Clarity of boundary lines between major sections: Design and format your resume so that whatever the main sections are, they are noticeable. Use well-defined headings and white space to achieve this. Similarly, design your resume so that the individual segments of work experience or education are distinct and separate from each other.

9.) Reverse chronological order: Remember to list your education and work-experience items starting with the current or most recent first and working backwards in time.

10.) Phrasing consistency: Use the same style of phrasing for similar information in a resume—for example, past tense verbs for all descriptions of past work experience and present tense for current jobs.

11.) Consistency of punctuation style: For similar sections of information use the same kind of punctuation—for example, periods, commas, colons, or nothing.

12.) Grammar, spelling, usage: Watch out for these problems on a resume—they stand out like a sore thumb and can ruin your chances at getting an interview. Watch out particularly for the incorrect use of its and it’s. Be sure to proofread carefully—if you can, have someone else look over your resume as well.

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Technical Writing for Technicians by Will Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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