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How to Critique a Resume

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

The difference between criticism and critique primarily depends on the amount of negative and positive information you provide. When critiquing a resume, suggest ways to improve the content rather than simply pointing out errors. The more specific your suggestions are, the more helpful your critique will be.

Review the Organization

The first step in critiquing a resume should be looking at its organization. Few employers hire employees based on their resumes. These documents simply help employers weed out unqualified candidates and determine which ones to bring in for an interview. Look at the resume to see if it’s easy to follow, if an interviewer can quickly find information such as titles, company names and dates, and if it has a logical flow. For example, if you see that a person with many years of experience puts her education at the top of her resume, recommend that she move that to the bottom, because employers will be more interested in what she’s done professionally than what she learned 10 years ago.

Strengthen the Objective

If the resume has an objective, make sure it emphasizes what the candidate can do for the company rather than what he wants from the company. Many people make the mistake of using an objective to tell potential employers what their goals are, which is not why the company is looking to hire them. For example, if the objective reads, “To get an interesting job in marketing with a growing company,” change it to, “To use my 10 years of marketing experience to help a consumer goods company improve its brand management, channel distribution, marketing communications and sales.”

Look for Accomplishments vs. Duties

A common flaw of resumes is describing the duties of a job rather than listing the accomplishments the candidate achieved in the position. Telling a company looking for an accountant that you held a job as a bookkeeper and then listing the responsibilities of a bookkeeper helps no one. If the person improved receivables turnover, expedited invoice processing or decreased income taxes by depreciating assets and finding new deductions for the company, include that information.

Run a Spelling and Grammar Check

Wait until you’re done with your content critique to run a spelling and grammar check. Common word processing programs come with these features, helping you clean up documents. Ask the person whose resume you’re critiquing about any unusual phrases that might seem grammatically incorrect but which might be phrases common and unique to a profession. Look for passive voice, which can water down accomplishments. For example, change, “Receivables were collected an average of 11 days earlier” to “Collected receivables an average of 11 days earlier.”

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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