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Resume makeover and editing checklist

We all have a resume. However, do we use the same thorough editing and review techniques on our document that we use at work? After I donated resume makeover services to charities for more than 5 years, after I had countless reviews by peers and editors, I found a typographical error and a stylistic error on my resume document. I’m inspired to write the following checklist for resume makeovers and edit reviews.

Use this checklist to ensure that your resume conforms to a simple and concise format, industry standards, and error-free style.

Your file name

The file name of your resume document should be self-describing, simple, and case-clear. Avoid names such as resume2011.doc and technicalwriter2.doc and Bob edited 2012.doc. Take the time to use correct case and a clear file name to make your resume stand out in a list of documents.
For example: BarrieByronResume.doc

Document properties

Document properties store valuable information about your document. Make sure to include a valid title, author, and other relevant information about the document. You can also use your document properties to store information about when the resume was updated, industry keywords, and twitter-like comments.
For example: Subject: Available for the right opportunity
Comments: Resume updated May 2011

Your contact information

Establish and use a self-describing, service-agnostic email address that is suitable for your profession. Using a google email address is more appropriate than an aol or a service-provider email address.
For example: use barriebyron@gmail.com instead of lovestotravel99@aol.com

Your phone and email

Your phone number and email addresses are self-describing and do not need a label.

Your address

The 2014 advice is to exclude a street address. Compelling reasons not to include your home address include:

  • Economic profiling
  • Length of commute
  • Personal safety

If the employer needs your home mailing address, they can ask for it. More resume tips at careerpivot.com/2014/resume-say-age/.

If you include your street address, follow the US Postal code recommendations for street suffixes. Remember the comma between the city and state.

Professional summary

Consider providing an easy-to-scan, bulleted list of your skills and competencies at the beginning of your resume document. Separate your skills and experience from your employers. Your future employer will not hire you based on where you worked. You are hired based on the skills and experience that you gained during your employment.

Date ranges

Use the word “to” or use an en dash for date ranges. Watch Microsoft Word, you can easily get an unintentional em dash between your start and end dates. Whatever punctuation you use, be consistent. Consider using only the year.
For example: June 1999 to September 2010 or June 1999-September 2010 or 1999-2010.


Use the tab character and define tab stops as appropriate for your document. Avoid using multiple tab space characters to move and position text.
For example: To right-align text, set a 6.5″ right tab stop and insert a tab character.

Special characters

Avoid special characters and spell out what you mean. Instead of using the slash character (/) rewrite the content. Spell out “and” instead of using the ampersand (&) character.
For example: instead of Librarian/Site Supervisor use Librarian and Site Supervisor

Academic degrees

Be consistent with your presentation and formatting of academic degrees. Reference your style guide of choice, select a form for writing academic degrees, and then use the same method throughout the entire work. For details and more information, see How-to-write-the-term-bachelors-degree. Unless you are a new college graduate, do not include the date of your degree. Include the city only when the program at the college is city-specific, or if the degree names the city.
For example: Bachelor of Science or B.S.

Underlines and UPPERCASE

Formatting in resumes does not require underlining or using all uppercase letters. Use bold typeface, consistent styles throughout, and avoid unnecessary underlines, uppercase letters. As long as I’m on a rant about presentation, avoid super cool fonts and boxes and other decorative nonessential items.

Tabs and indentations

Select a style and use it consistently throughout the document. Indentations that do not serve a purpose are unnecessary.

Parallel sentence construction

Especially within job descriptions, choose a single vocabulary style and use consistently throughout the document.
For example: If you define work task as “collection maintenance” then use that terminology throughout. Do not switch to “maintaining collections” for alternate job descriptions.


Your resume is your professional thesis. Treat it with dignity and respect. Give this living document proper care and feeding. Maintain your resume at least annually. Perform a careful analysis and revise your skills and job descriptions as your professional career develops.

Related resources worth your time to review and ponder:

About Barrie Byron

Innovative information developer specializing in presenting complex ideas in ways that are clear and concise. Persistent optimist, intrepid adventurer, mentor. Builder of relationships, connecting friends and peers to people they want to know. Social duct tape and generator of goodwill. Follow me on twitter @barriebyron


2 thoughts on “Resume makeover and editing checklist

  1. Excellent tips! For document properties, I also suggest reviewing for information that you do *not* want there, such as someone else’s name (if sharing Microsoft Word with others) or a company name or other irrelevant text.

    Posted by Marianne White | June 24, 2011, 11:34 am


  1. Pingback: Do you know the Career Sherpa? « Barrie Byron's blog - January 25, 2013

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