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Evaluating your resume

Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D. and Arnold Sykes

 (For individual use only, not to be reproduced or used in any way without permission)

Your resume may be the only thing a potential employer will see to determines if an interview is warranted. How effective is your resume in producing interviews?

Every product you purchase is based on the value received for the money spent. Product value is described in quantifiable terms: mpg, karats, processing speed, memory, warranty, etc. Isn’t it reasonable for a potential employer to ask, "What am I buying?" Does your resume present your true and unique value to a potential employer (the buyer)? If it does an interview is more likely. The following ten-question quiz is a start in evaluating how well your resume communicates your value or what the potential employer is buying.

1. Is your transmittal letter specific to the company/job you are seeking and does it emphasize the value you bring to this employer?
Yes No
2. Is your resume written from the buyers perspective (value produced) or a sellers perspective (product features)?
Yes No
3. Does your resume list your 3-6 unique strengths?
Yes No
4. For each strength listed are the situations you faced, actions taken and quantifiable results produced clearly stated?
Yes No
5. Are the situations you have faced and results produced in past jobs critical to effectiveness in the position your seek?
Yes No
6. Does your emplyment history clearly indicate whether your career is progressing with increasing accountablity?
Yes No
7. Is your resume targeted toward the job you are seeking?
Yes No
8. Does your resume use action words indicating you are decisive and results oriented? For example: Problem Solver, Leader, Developer, and Negotiator.
Yes No
9. Is your reusme easy to read using concise, crisp language and bullet points?
Yes No
10. Spend no more than 15 seconds reading the top half of your resume. Does it catch/hold your interest and motivate you to look deeper?
Yes No

Answer key

1.   Yes=10 points. Employers can detect a generic transmittal letter and likely ignore it due to a lack of motivation to understanding their company/job. A transmittal letter without character may be seen as a mass mail out and treated like other junk mail.

2.   Yes=10 points. You are justifiably proud of what you have done and who you are. The employer is more interested in the value you can produce.

3.  Yes=10 points. Employers are looking for transferable strengths. Don’t assume theses are self-evident. Identify and list 3-6 strengths that make you unique.

4.   Yes=10 points. Identifying your strengths is just the start, prove it with SARs (Situations, Actions, Results). For each strength, list the Situation you faced, the Actions you took, and the quantifiable Results produced.

5.   Yes=10 points. Your proof of strengths/value must be relevant to the position you are seeking. Do your research.  What are the factors that lead to success in the desired position? Now show how your strengths fit this profile.

6.   Yes=10 points. A professional employee in any field will make strategic job changes not just job hop. Each job move should indicate growth, responsibility, and accountability.

7.   Yes=10 points. Avoid a generic resume; orient your resume toward the job you are seeking. Employers favor those who have done the research to understand exactly what is required in the position and situation the potential company is facing.

8.   Yes=10 points. The more specific the better. Instead of Problem Solving think about debugged, invented, or solved. Instead of Leadership consider teams built, turnarounds, results achieved, directions set, new initiatives established.

9.   Yes=10 points. Easier to read, easier to understand. Don’t make the reader work, they won’t. Be concise, bullet points communicate better than a lengthy narrative. Look at your resume. Is the picture clear with a message that is evident? Consider getting a third person’s opinion and help.

10. Yes=10 points. At best you have a 15 second window for the reader to put your resume in the “follow up” pile or shredder box. Fancy or cute doesn’t cut it. Hard hitting clear statements that capture the reader’s attention and communicate value are needed.

Your score:

Multiply the total number of “Yes” answers by 10 for your score. Maximum score is 100.

Congratulations, your resume is a powerful tool in your job search and will likely enable you to get interviews with prospective hiring organizations.

Additional work is needed to push your resume ahead of those you are competing against. What’s your history, have you gotten follow up inquiries, if not study those questions that indicate how you can make your resume a powerful communication tool. 

Below 70
Unlike school, in the world or work, below 70 is a failing grade.  Take heart, moving up to A+ (100) simply requires some focused changes in your resume. Study the questions you marked “No” and do the work to change your resume into an inquiry generating tool.

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