The Ultimate Resume Checklist to Help You Land Your Dream Job

June 13, 2022
Resume Checklist

Your Resume Matters

You've been in the workforce for a decent amount of time and have built a thriving career, but maybe you're ready to take the leap and nail down the job of your dreams. Even as an established professional, you must make yourself marketable and present employers with a resume that delivers all the goods. That elusive dream job may seem like just that: a dream. But with some hard work and a fantastic resume, you can land the position you've always wanted. 

It would help if you had a resume that wows the HR rep, talent manager, or other hiring manager and keeps you from landing in the trash so that you can lock down an interview. Studies show that most recruiters and HR partners look at a resume for about six seconds, which means you need to make a statement right out of the gate.

Easier said than done, though, right? 

With help from a professional resume checklist and some editing skills, you can take your resume from the bottom of the pile to "You're hired!" 

Must-Have Resume Checklist – 10 Things Your Resume Needs

Chances are, you've written countless resumes throughout your career. You rose through the ranks, and now you're in a position where you can be choosey about the jobs you apply for. But, it would be best if you had a resume that shares your knowledge and experience concisely and straightforwardly. You have to tell the story of your career in a way that'll blow away any HR rep or talent acquisition manager.

There is plenty of information that you don't need to include, but some key features that you must have. The Top 10 essentials for any resume are:

  1. Your professional contact information.
  2. A professional summary or objective.
  3. Your education history.
  4. Notable achievements and awards.
  5. Skills related to the position.
  6. Examples of your leadership abilities.
  7. Concise work history with dates
  8. Keywords, keywords, keywords.
  9. Your LinkedIn profile information.
  10. Links to websites or online portfolios that show off your work and brand. 

Use the handy resume checklist above to make sure you're hitting each one of these marks. Understanding the "why" behind these unique must-haves is key to nailing your best resume. 

Let's take a closer look at each essential resume item:

  1. Your professional contact information.

You need to include accurate, up-to-date contact information so that people who want to hire you can find you. Ensure you include your professional email address—please don't use your personal address—and your phone number with a professional voicemail. You may have been in the workforce and at the top of your field for decades, but if no one can get ahold of you, it’s all for naught. Don’t give out your workplace phone number: you don’t want to be that guy who is fielding job search calls on company time! Also, make sure you set up your voicemail on the number you provide with a clear, concise message that states your name.

  1. A professional summary or objective.

Who are you, and what is your career goal. This simple sentence spells out precisely what anyone doing hiring wants and needs to hear. Make this a compelling sentence that ensures the hiring managers know what you're looking for and why you’re applying for the position they posted. 

  1. Your education history.

You worked hard for those degrees; now shout them loud and proud. Provide the names of colleges or post-secondary schools you've attended and the degrees obtained. There's no need to include your high school or any schools before that unless your highest level of education is high school. Include any trade schools or other professional development schools you've attended if they are also relevant to the position. This gives the HR professional insight into your academic pursuits.

The formatting and information for this section should look like this:

  • Name of the school attended
  • Location of the school
  • The degree that you earned
  • Your major/the focus of your studies
  • Graduation year
  • Your GPA
  • Relevant academic recognition, honors, or other activities you participated in that relate to your career.
  1. Notable achievements and awards.

From sales awards to significant acquisitions, share the professional praises you've received. Make sure to include the year the recognition or achievement occurred and other essential factors like who honored you with the award. These types of recognition serve as a way to showcase that you’re talented and will bring something special to any position.

  1. Skills related to the position.

No one cares about your ability to mow the lawn in perfectly shaped lines, but they do want to know that you are a master at the specific technology the company you are applying for uses.

Include hard and soft skills, but ensure they align with the position you are applying for or show a bit of your personality and how you would align with the culture of the company you are interested in.

  1. Examples of your leadership abilities.

Companies today value leaders and want to see examples of how you have demonstrated your leadership in the past. So stand out from the crowd with a few key examples of when you have shown above and beyond leadership and/or teamwork.

  1. Concise work history with dates

List your work history, focusing on the value you've brought to your previous companies. For example, include your work history for the last 15 years; there's no need to add in your college job scooping ice cream.

Include the company's name, your job title, and the years you were employed. Next, add a few bullet points demonstrating what you did in your role. As Indeed points out in their resume tips article, you should always lead with strong action verbs. These stand out to those who are hiring and are more potent than weaker, passive verbs. 

  1. Keywords, keywords, keywords.

The first set of eyes that will look over your resume might be digital. Many companies use search tools to scan resumes for essential keywords. These tools enable them to weed out the resumes that aren't relevant to the position.

Look through the position advertisement and add in any relevant keywords or phrases the listing calls out. These should be prevalent throughout your resume to ensure you come up in any digital searches the hiring manager conducts. After a quick scan, someone hiring should be able to quickly find the key job features they want when they look at your resume.

  1. Your LinkedIn profile information.

According to Forbes, 95% of employers use LinkedIn for hiring purposes. Sure, they are looking organically to find candidates, but they also want to look at prospective applicants after receiving their resumes.

Make sure to include this information, and verify that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and accurate. If possible, ensure that you have recommendations from former co-workers, supervisors, or peers you have encountered throughout your career. These personal anecdotes speak volumes about you as an employee and help once again to set you apart from the pack. Employers can glean valuable information about what you bring to the table from the people who know best.

  1. Any websites or online portfolios that show off your work and brand. 

Depending on your field, you may have useful websites that can showcase your skills. For example, if you're in a creative area like marketing, graphic design, or writing, you may have an online portfolio of your previous work that you'd like to share. Or, if you've built websites or managed an online store, show off this work to your prospective employer.

These features are essential and should be considered non-negotiable. Therefore, ensure you always include these in any resume so that hiring managers have the necessary information to hire you.

resume evaluation checklist

5 Things to NOT Put on Your Resume

Most of these should be common sense, but since writing your best resume is the goal, we must ensure you know what to avoid. So keep these tips in mind to ensure you’re resume isn’t an instant turnoff to a recruiter.

  1. DON’T include anything that isn’t true.

Nothing can get the door slammed in your face faster than lying on your resume. There's no need to do it; even if it doesn't catch up with you now, it will eventually. 

  1. DON’T forget to proofread.

Not only is it embarrassing to have a resume full of spelling and grammar errors, but it also makes you look like you don't care. If you're applying for the type of positions you're qualified for, you can edit your resume. Many hiring managers cite a lack of proofreading as a resume critique that can turn them off immediately.

  1. DON’T make it too fancy.

You want to make sure your resume stands out, but there’s a fine line between a document that gets you noticed and one that’s hard to read because of too much noise. 

What do we mean by noise? Wild fonts, offbeat formatting, and other features can reduce the readability of your resume. Text boxes, charts, and graphs make your resume more interesting, but they can lead to added confusion. Plus, since most resumes are run through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for specific keywords and phrases, these text features may be unreadable and lead to your resume falling into a black hole—the proverbial trash.

Make sure that any formatting you do makes the document easier to read and the most important information stands out. Anything else is doing too much. 

  1. DON’T use the same resume for every single position.

You wouldn’t use the same cover letter for every job you apply for, so why would you use the same resume? Instead, tailor your resume to fit the position you are applying for, removing unnecessary skills and keywords and adding features specific to your desired job. 

  1. DON'T use company-specific buzzwords or jargon.

From acronyms to buzzwords, every company has its language. Make sure to keep these phrases and words out of your resume, as they won't make sense to anyone who doesn't work for your company. Instead, look for alternate keywords that will strike a chord with anyone. 

Details, Details, Details – How to Format Your Resume

Things like resume spacing and margins may not sound like a big deal, but they can mean the difference between a streamlined and easy-to-reread resume and a jumbled mess. So naturally, you don't want your resume to fall into the chaotic mess category.

How should you space your resume? What should the font be? Bullet points or no bullet points? 

These questions might seem trivial, but they are vital to your resume. Without proper formatting, your resume may get overlooked.

If you’re editing or starting your resume from scratch, utilize this checklist to aid in the flow and readability of the most crucial document in your career.

Formatting Your Resume – Resume Spacing, Fonts, Etc.

  • Spacing should be single to 1.5-lines. For your resume to be coherent and easy to scan, either by the naked eye of a recruiter or by an ATS, use single to 1.5-lines to enable just enough white space to break up blocks of text and make essential features stand out without having too much blank areas.
  • The font should be Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, Georgia, or any other serif or mono-font. Avoid anything that looks cartoonish—we're looking at you, Comic Sans MS—or calligraphic. You want the font to be clean and straightforward so as not to take away from the content. Your extraordinary accomplishments need to stand out! 
  • Utilize line breaks. A line break will naturally and effectively break up your text without adding any extra mess. 
  • Top and bottom margins should be 0.5 inches; side margins should be 0.75 inches. Make sure you set your margins so that you have plenty of space and are using all you can to keep your resume from being too long. The automatic setting should be correct, or if you need to set the margins manually, use this: No more than 0.5 for the top and bottom and no less than 0.75 for the sides. This spacing keeps your text balanced and reduces empty side and top space.
  • Use headers and bullet points. Ensuring the text is manageable to read means breaking it up and highlighting key points with headings and bullet points. Always align your bullet points, and make sure to bold or italicize anything that needs emphasis. You want anyone scanning your resume to stop on these bolded keywords.

Remember that the "little things" can add to big problems if you ignore them!

checklist for writing an effective resume

How To Make Your Resume Pass Any Resume Critique

If creating a resume that'll knock their socks off sounds daunting, that's because it is. Following our resume checklist can help, but if you want to ensure your resume is the shining star in every hiring manager's inbox, you will need Jabord.

How can they know you when they can’t see you? With Jabord interactive resumes, recruiters and hiring managers can see the real you. Jabord offers candidates a fresh new way to stand out, with interactive resume tools to ensure your resume is the shining star in a sea full of dull, ho-hum documents. Jabord enables you to take your existing resume to bold new heights, transforming it into an interactive resume that most hiring managers have never seen before.

Jabord interactive resumes feature:

  • Video intros & tagging – With most recruiters only spending 6 seconds looking at a resume, a video intro can make the most of your time! It will also keep them engaged and give the recruiter a look at who you are.
  • Portfolio & reference sections – Adding your unique work samples, awards and references allows your accomplishments to shine.
  • An easy way to show off your personality – With more than half of all hiring managers looking for a cultural fit, you need to ensure that who you are comes through. When you add in your outside of work interests and hobbies, you become a well-rounded, genuine person to the recruiter.

Jabord makes it simple to transform your PDF resume into a masterpiece that paints a picture of who you are. It's easy to do and can make a lasting impression on those who have your career fate in their hands!

Sections you’ll build with Jabord include:

  • Video Introduction
  • Cover Video
  • References
  • Work Samples
  • Extras
  • #tags
  • Social Footprint

These modern features turn your resume into a way to sell your brand. In addition, viewers can interact with the resume sections that appeal to them and easily toggle between content. 

If you’re struggling to get your resume up to par and want to bring it into the present, Jabord is the tool for you. So grab attention, get noticed, and get hired with a resume that's a stark departure from the basic PDF outlines of the past.

Learn more about everything Jabord has to offer candidates at