Does Your Resume Need Rescuing? Put It To The Test

What exactly differentiates an impressive resume from a weak resume? Well, a stand-out resume SELLS instead of tells. It also:

  • Advertises a job seeker’s unique value proposition just like any other marketing material.
  • Is attention-grabbing, tailored in content, and keyword rich.
  • Informs the reader specifically what the job seeker can do for them, demonstrating clear value!
  • Is packed with results!
  • Written lean and clean, meaning it says a lot but with fewer words.

On the flip side, a weak resume simply TELLS the reader mundane facts. It also:

  • Focuses incorrectly on tasks, duties, and responsibilities, regurgitating job descriptions.
  • Leaves the reader confused with too many unrelated details.
  • Lacks focus and punch, neglecting to highlight results and value-add.
  • Rambles and is too text-heavy.

How can you know for sure if your resume is ‘up to snuff’? Put your resume to the following test to find out:

Checklist1. Has your resume been created without the use of a template? YES or NO!

Avoid Templates: these are easily spotted and difficult to customize. Every resume should be unique.


2. Does your resume have clear section headers and ample white space? YES or NO!

You want the design of your resume to be inviting, easy to read, and professional, applying a different format for both human-readers and ATS-readers.


3. Does your resume include an opening profile or qualifications summary? YES or NO!

Leverage these sections to present the reader with immediate value.  Highlight your value proposition and how it can directly support the company’s requirements.


4. Does your resume include crucial design elements such as bullets? YES or NO!

Basic design components assist with highlighting important content and help guide the reader through the document.  Richer design components like text boxes, graphs, or charts are best used in networking resumes and/or resumes supplied to an actual human reader.


5. Are all of the resume sections clearly labeled and easy to spot? YES or NO!

Headers should be slightly larger in size and bolded or emphasized in a way that draws attention to each section.


6. Are you confident that the resume sections have been placed in the best order to highlight your strongest credentials? YES or NO!

Information should appear from most relevant to least relevant throughout the resume. The top 1/3 of the resume is ‘prime real estate’.


7. Is your resume targeted towards a specific career goal and not a one-size-fits-all document? YES or NO!

Generic resumes will not catch the eye of recruiters. Custom tailor a new resume for each role.


8. Does your resume include a solid listing of career accomplishments that are quantified with the use of specific numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, or other concrete measures of success? YES or NO!

You must provide the proof. Add value to your statements and highlight results with quantitative details (include how many, how much, and how often).


9. Does every accomplishment statement in your resume begin with strong, varied action verbs? YES or NO!

Action verbs command attention and accentuate achievement.  Here’s a list of favorites.


10. Have you separated your accomplishments from your responsibilities? YES or NO!

Apply a strategy to separate tasks from achievements (ie: bullet achievements and use short succinct sentences for the job overview). Ensure the resume does not heavily emphasize generic tasks and duties; these add no value.  Focus on what sets you apart.


11. Does your resume avoid the use of personal pronouns such as I, me, and my? YES or NO!

Resumes rarely include personal pronouns. Instead, ensure content is action-focused.


12. Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no typos or spelling, grammar or syntax errors? YES or NO!

Proofread carefully, and then have someone else double check.


13. Are you confident that all information presented is relevant to the hiring managers’ needs? YES or NO!

The resume is a marketing tool, not a career chronology. Only list details related to the targeted role. Tailor content accordingly.


14. Is your resume keyword-rich and packed with appropriate buzzwords and industry acronyms? YES or NO!

Do your homework and make sure you know what buzzwords and phrases are common in your industry; pepper these throughout the resume. Keywords are critical in ATS.  Not sure where to locate the best keywords?  The job posting is a great resource!


15. Have you omitted the following from your resume? Yes or NO

• Non-relevant information over 15 years old.

• Listing reasons for termination or other negative comments/facts.

• Noting “References Available Upon Request”.

• Personal information regarding gender, age, religion, race, marital status.! Never include any of the above.

TEST RESULTS:Tally up your YES and NO totals to the above questions.

If you answered NO to more than three of the above questions:your resume requires some repairs.

If you answered NO to more than six of the listed questions:your resume needs some serious rescuing! 

Remember, a recruiter or employer is almost always short on time. They need your career history properly positioned on paper so it is easy to scan, effortless to locate key details, and straightforward in value. You need to employ a modern resume approach that sets you apart from your competitors to ensure your resume gets read.

Want to see samples of modern, interview-winning resumes?   Visit our samples page. Still struggling with putting ‘pen to paper’ or navigating current resume trends? I can help.

Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.
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