HR Blog

Use the Force. Or At Least Spellcheck.

07/01/2018 | Dee Yingst

I've been reading a lot of resumes lately; some are really good, others are ok, and still others are…well…they could use a little re-tooling. If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I like to cook and I like to eat (not necessarily in that order).  I also really like sharing recipes. In that spirit, I'd like to share my recipe for a well-written resume; I use this for my own resume as well as those I compose for others.


Knowledge and Skills – tell me what you know and what you've done. It doesn't necessarily have to be related to a particular job. I like a format that first gives me a career statement then gives me a list of things you've done and think you're pretty good at.

Professional Background – tell me about where you're working today and what you're doing. If you think you've done something pretty amazing (increased sales 200%) then tell me. I don't need (or want) you to write the Great American Novel, but I should at least be able to get a feel for what you did. If you're not working right now no need to explain on the resume; that's a good conversation point.

Educational Background – If you just graduated, tell me about the coursework you did. Especially do this if you don't have much working experience. If you think your coursework helps resolve what you feel is a hole in your experience, then tell me about it.

Technical/Professional Designations, Licenses, or other special qualifications – if you got it, flaunt it.

I know that there is still a school of thought that says you should have a flashy resume replete with unusual fonts, big splashes of color, and even some that use photos. Personally, unless you're applying for a graphic designer job it doesn't really matter to me that you can put a fill color in a text box. It just means it's probably going to be a pain in the neck to photocopy. All that being said, if you send me a Word document and the job you're applying for requires excellent skills in that area, I'm going to look at the formatting (are you using tabs or the space bar for margins, for instance). If you want to do the fancy stuff, that's ok just remember – it doesn't matter how pretty it is if you miss the next ingredient: 

Liberal amounts of Proofreading

You can have all the great experience and education in the world, but if you can't be bothered to proofread your resume then what's the point?

Your resume is the very first task your new [prospective] employer has given you - if you're not going to take care to proof your resume then how am I supposed to be comfortable that you will take care with the work you're hired to do?

Don't rely just on spellcheck, either. Spellcheck doesn't know what you meant to say, it can only check what is actually there. The best proofreading is done by someone else. They don't know what you're trying to say and are more likely to catch an error than you are.

I am frequently asked about the proper length of a resume. Should it be kept to one page? Two pages? I have no issue with a short resume for someone who doesn't have as much experience and I expect a longer resume from someone who is in his/her mid-career. Just make sure it's succinct and make sure you have a header on the subsequent pages in case the pages get separated. No, I don't need your photo. In fact, I would prefer not to have it.

So now you have my personal recipe for resume success – it won't exactly fit on a card in a recipe box but hopefully it will be helpful.  Don't you just love recipes that don't require the oven to be pre-heated? Hope you're having a great summer!