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How to Critique Your Own Resume

As a job seeker, and as your own resume writer, you have probably created what you feel is a masterpiece resume that can be sent anywhere and get you a job. But if you really think about it, if your resume was that fabulous, you would probably have a job by now, right?

Try not to feel bad about your resume; sometimes it’s hard to see what needs to be changed when you don’t have the advantage of being your own third-party eyes. However, if you follow a resume-critique checklist, you have a better chance of wrapping your mind around some obvious changes that may need to be made to turn your resume into the true masterpiece it can be.

Think about First Impressions

The first item on your checklist which you should consider when looking over your resume is whether it will make a great first impression. Does it look like it is based on a template that other job seekers are using, or is the resume writer, that would be you, original? Is it cluttered with words or does it offer clear sections with ample white space? Does the design have a professional appearance, or does it look like you asked your 10-year-old sibling to type it for you? It’s good to consider all of these questions when exploring what type of first impression you’re making with your resume.

Are Your Resume Sections Appropriate?

As you continue to critique your resume, it’s important to look through your resume sections to ensure they’re appropriate. In other words, you want to make sure that they are all clearly labeled. You also want to make sure they are listed in the best order possible to highlight your strongest credentials. When you list work history, you want to ensure it is listed in reverse chronological order so that your most recent job is listed first.

Are Your Career Goals Clearly Defined?

As you review your resume, check your career goals to make sure they are clearly defined. This means you want to make sure your career objective is toward the top of the resume. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your objective, as well as the remaining resume content, is targeted to a specific career goal rather than being so general that it would fit a job as a plumber just as easily as that of an insurance underwriter.

Are You Using Action Words and Keyword Phrases?

In order to highlight your accomplishments, it’s important that you, as the resume writer, create a resume that is action-driven rather than duty-driven. This means using action words rather than words that focus on the responsibilities you had. So instead of writing that you were responsible for organizing the office, write that you developed an organizational system for the office. Also, you want your resume to be rich with keyword phrases that define your industry, like “trade shows” if you’re in marketing.

As you see, it takes a lot of work to create a “masterpiece” resume. But you can do it with ease if you go over it line by line, word by word, and make sure that it includes every element it should contain and, of course, is error-free. If you do, you will find your title changing from “job seeker” to “employee” before you know it.

- Heather Eagar

Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Need a resume writing service? Compare the top ones in the industry at