A Resume Checklist: 13 Things to Do Before You Apply for the Job

Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing. Featuring an excerpt from 'Step-by-Step Resumes' by Evelyn Salvador.

When writing the first draft of your resume, you probably know it could be -- and should be -- stronger than it is. If you're like many job seekers, though, you might feel pretty mystified as to which specific steps will lead you to more powerful content and a more attractive design.

Fortunately, boosting a bland resume or simply polishing it before applying for a job isn't as cumbersome as you might expect. According to Evelyn Salvador, author of 'Step-by-Step Resumes,' there are many simple, yet effective, tricks that can significantly strengthen your resume's readability, call to action, marketability and overall appearance.

In her book, Salvador recommends you take the following steps to improve a resume before using it to apply for jobs:

1. Remove personal pronouns.

The subject (I, me or my) is understood in your resume and you should leave it out of each sentence. If your resume contains any of these words, delete them and restructure your sentences if necessary.

2. Check for action verbs.

Be sure each bullet in your "professional experience" section starts with an action verb or adverb preceding the action verb.

3. Delete redundant or superfluous words.

Review each sentence or bullet and delete any words that your sentence reads fine without, such as "the" and "that," as well as unnecessary "fluff" words. Edit down to the most concise sentence possible without omitting any important content, such as achievements.

4. Include personal attributes.

Double-check that your primary attributes are included in your "professional summary" section and that you didn't leave out any important ones.

5. Ensure that all pertinent, targeted qualifications are included.

Compare your resume to the description of the job you're targeting. Is there any information you didn't already mention that would address a function or need listed in the description? If so, revise your resume to include that information.

6. Prioritize your bullets.

Review your responsibilities and achievements in each position and move the more important, targeted ones closer to the top under each position.

7. Remove irrelevant information.

Check to ensure that anything irrelevant or not directly related to your targeted goal is minimized, put toward the end or omitted altogether so that your resume includes more relevant information.

8. Subdivide and categorize bullets.

If you have many responsibility and achievement bullets under each position (say, more than 10), you can divide them into two categories ("responsibilities" and "achievements") and subtitle them as such under each position for easier reading.

9. Check for quantifying information.

When reviewing your sentences, ask yourself, "Did I include how many, how much, how often, how big, how fast, how well and so on?" If not, go edit your sentences to include more specific, concrete information.

10. Verify that "CAR" and benefit info is included.

Do your achievements include the Challenge you faced, the Action you took and the Result? Be sure you show how well you performed these functions and always include the benefit(s) to the company.

11. Vary bullet line length.

Try for a good mix of line lengths. Bullets are effective when they are a combination of one, two and three typed lines. Because it is important to show not only what you did, but also how well you did it and what the benefits were to the company, information should be concise without sacrificing content or meaning. In this way, you will have an action-packed, achievement-oriented resume that is tightly and concisely written.

12. Check grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Spell-check your document in your word-processing program. Proofread several times. Be consistent in your use of capitalization and hyphenation. Be sure you have used correct grammar and punctuation. If this is not one of your fortes (and it isn't for many people), give your completed resume to someone you trust to proofread it for you.

Add more descriptive adjectives or adverbs where applicable. Check to see whether you can infuse any additional descriptors that show how well you performed your job functions.

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.

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Why should anyone have to jump through so many stupid hoops and play so many games just to get what SHOULD be the RIGHT OF EVERY AMERICAN: the means to provide for himself or herself?? This entire jobs situation is nothing but a sick game perpetrated on us by employers who have no intention of filling any positions and instead of just "fishing" to see what people will put up with. I'm firmly convinced that most of the "jobs" posted are fake positions that the employers can show to the government and say, "See? We created jobs - now give us out tax breaks for having created jobs!" It's a sick game; nothing more. We need a WPA program like this country instituted during the last Great Depression (don't try to softsell this current mess by calling it a "recession" or telling us "the recession is over").

January 16 2011 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great article

January 16 2011 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You should always have a pen in your purse interview or not.
Get real most people know what to do on an interview it is the person interviewing that NEEDS to get on the PAGE.

January 16 2011 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Many believe that the older job candidate stands a lesser chance of a job offer than the younger candidate, all other consideration points being equal. Certainly the media and companies in the beauty restoration sector want us to believe that. So I'd like to point out some qualities that just may make an older employee quite attractive. First, and foremost, the more seasoned employee has the advantage of showing a positive track record on his/her resume as well as in the interview. I truly believe history is the best predictor of the future. Secondly, the older employee has the ability to showcase their adaptability by learning how to use the more common office software necessary to know in today's work environment. Someone who shows the trait of being able to learn and wanting to learn new material is very important. Finally, how about attitude? Give me an experienced person with a positive attitude willing to get along with their coworkers and work well as a team can be more important than their initial tech abilities. Some think older workers are stubborn and stuck in their old habits, but I've seen more managerial headaches stemming from some younger employees' feelings of entitlement. There is good and bad in both age ranges, and hopefully HR can choose the best individuals, older or younger.

January 16 2011 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J Nolan


January 13 2011 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to J Nolan's comment

I believe the word is "shaking." My advice is to have someone, whose grammar/punctuation you trust, read your resume. It is not just typos or punctuation that can be a problem. Sometimes you are so close to the subject (literally and figuratively) that something that seems very clear to you is not clear to the reader.

January 16 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

tparrish, you are absolutely right. I caught a mistake in the comment I just made, I will probably be shafted for it, but you know what, it doesn't matter because it is the leaat of my worries at this point. I make sure my resumes are 100% in spelling, grammer and punctuation.

January 13 2011 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My question is how do they know how old you are just be reading a resume? I have not provided any info on my resume that would suggest how old I am.
Bottom line is that backgrounds are checked and you can find out anything on the internet these days. Even from blogs like these. People who are not old enough to retire or don't want to, should not be catagorized.

January 13 2011 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Thor's comment
Charlotte Johnson

Good point. The only indicator for age is based on your level of experience you provide, like project manager, or director, or sr. manager. There's an assumption of years that goes with those titles.
Then, a lot of companies are looking at your online profiles (whatever pops up). As a coach, I spend time going through my clients online profile lookin gfor accuracy, consistency, negativity, and appropriatness.

In regards to jobs; there are jobs out there. The unfortunate part of that statement is that some areas (like the Central Valley) is slow moving, unlike the Silicon Valley which is starting to move in it's hiring.
Networking is key, having someone you respect who has hiring expereince look at your resume, and track your search.
Resumes are not easy. The expectation of what should be in a Resumes has changed a little over the last 2 years. What did you do for the company, what was the action you took to make things better and what was the quantifiable result. (increased, improved, reduced... time, money, collaboration, etc.) What does the hiring manager want to know? What does he/she want to hear? Or look at it this way, what would you want in an employee in that position if you were hiring?
Hope this helps a bit.

January 13 2011 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, it is amazing to sit and read all of these comments. So many people are quick to judge and insult others who give their opinion, especially if that opinion contains a grammatical or typographical error. The fact of the matter is, none of us are perfect. Wouldn't it be more productive to stay on topic and perhaps provide positive tips that may just help someone in their job search? I know I would love more tips, as I have been in the market for a job for some time now and, despite my exemplary clerical skills, have been unable to secure stable employment.

(Now go ahead and critique my grammar and spelling. I doubt you will find anything incorrect; however, if you do, remember that no one is perfect.)

January 13 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You guys crack me up. This is funny...I agree with >wils and >Just Me. I don't think being 39 like me is old. For those looking for "a job", What's the most money you've ever made in 1 year? My point is you will never make good money working for somebody else. My 17 yo daughter makes +20hr walking peoples dogs. The hard truth about of our youger society is that MOST are lazy, disrepectful, have no manners, feel entitled and just want a salary. I've learned the best business comes from working with people over 45. You will make more money faster! Less BS and they walk their talk. You can't beat experience so I recommend to listen to your elders. Do yourselves a favor and try making a living by doing something for someone else...and grow!

January 13 2011 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It also depends on which side of the pond you are on.

January 13 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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