RESUME ASSESSMENTMany professional resume writers offer a free resume assessment before you decide to go ahead and purchase a resume. Of course, the problem is that there is no such thing as a free lunch - these writers use the offer of a free assessment as a means of getting your business, not just to give you honest feedback.
That's not to say that some are not honest - but how do you know? Did they really think your resume needed work, or are they just trying to drum up business?
Still, having the best possible resume is essential - especially in a tough job market.
That's why I've created the following resume assessment questionnaire. These are the things the professionals look for when you submit your resume. Use it to honestly evaluate where you are.
If your resume isn't getting the response you want, it's probably because it's not doing you justice. So when you review these questions, be brutally honest with yourself. It's the only way to understand what's wrong so that you can fix the problems.
1. Is your unique value proposition clearly expressed?
2. Will the reader see and understand your value proposition within the first few seconds of looking at your resume?
This is key. Your resume will be reviewed with many other resumes and you must ensure that it communicates what makes you special.
If you need more information on developing and communicating a value proposition, check out our free resume writing e-course.
3. Does your resume address the needs of your target employers by showing that you have solved problems similar to the ones they are experiencing?
Defining your value proposition is one thing, but making it clear at first glance is just as important. Before I wrote resumes for a living, I was an HR executive and I read thousands of resumes. I can tell you that I gave each one 10-15 seconds maximum to get my attention. If I couldn't see value in that short time, the resume went on the 'no' pile.
So make sure that you have communicated how you will add value - and that you have done it clearly and upfront.
Employers want to know you can make a difference to their organization. It doesn't matter whether you are applying for an executive job or an entry-level position. The goal is the same - to make a positive impact. Therefore, your resume must show that you have done this in the past.
4. Does your resume convey your ability to make an impact by outlining your accomplishments in a clear and compelling manner?
This is related to the previous point - the best way to show that you will make a positive impact is to show how you have done that in the past. You can do this by talking about your accomplishments using a formula we call The Challenge-Action-Results formula.
If you haven't heard of this formula before, check out the free resume writing course for detailed instructions. This is a surefire way to boost responses to your resume.
5. Does your resume have a sense of action and movement? Have you used action verbs wherever possible?
Liven up your resume by using action verbs to start each bullet point. Take a look at our resume samples for ideas.
6. Does the resume design draw the eye to key information? Is the page clean and uncluttered? Is your resume easy on the eye?
Most people underestimate the importance of good resume design, but it's actually critically important. As I said earlier, most HR folks/ recruiters will scan your resume for 10-15 seconds to determine if they want to interview you. If you don't make it easy to read, they will miss key points. Oh and while we're on the subject of design ... please, please, please don't use a Microsoft resume template when you write your resume. It just makes your resume look like everyone else's and does nothing to help you market yourself as unique and interesting.
7. When you read your resume, are you impressed?
This is where you need to be brutally frank with yourself. When I write a resume for a client and send them the first draft, one of the most common responses is "wow! I'd hire me!" If you don't feel that way about your resume, why should anyone else? Take the time to make your resume the best that it can be.
8. When you show your resume to others who know you, what do they say? Do they feel it represents you well?
It's essential to ask for feedback from other people whose opinion you trust because you can't always stand back and view your resume dispassionately. BUT, two notes of caution. (a) Make sure that you only ask people who have hiring experience, and (b) Don't ask them 'what do you think of this resume?' That question doesn't get to the heart of what you want to know and invites people to give you their own resume biases, which may or may not be correct. Instead ask "what impression do you get of me when you read this resume?"That question will focus their attention and ensure you get the most useful feedback.
Remember, be tough in your resume assessment. Be brutally frank with yourself. Compare your resume to our resume samples to ensure that it's the very best it can be. You will probably never write a more important document than your resume so spend the time and effort - and yes maybe even money - to make it amazing.
If you're not happy with your resume, check out the articles on this page, including how to write a resume, or sign up for free resume writing help with our e-course.
Louise Fletcher is the President of Blue Sky Resumes. Louise is also Managing Editor and Co-founder of the preeminent careers blog, Career Hub. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and many of her resumes have been published in the JIST "Expert Resumes" series. She has contributed to many online publications including About.com, Monster.com, The Ladders, and Net Temps.