Polishing Your Resume Polishing Your Resume

You know that you should edit your resume before you send it off in the world, making sure it’s error-free. But to make sure that resume is in the best possible shape? You should really take the editing process a few steps further.

The thing is: Editing is more than just giving something a once-over to eliminate awful typos and grammar mistakes. It is really about looking at something with a critical eye, then making changes to ensure it is the best it can possibly be.

And that is what you want for your resume, right? Here is a five step editing plan that will take your resume from good to full-blown awesome (and—of course—eliminate the typos, too).

Step 1: Consider the Big Picture

First thing you should determine is whether or not the whole piece is working as a whole. Is your resume sending the correct overall message? Are there any major gaps or sections that are repetitive of information already shared?

At this stage, ignore typos or formatting issues, and think about the overall message your resume is sending:

  • Does this sell you as the perfect candidate for the types of roles you are seeking?
  • Are there any gaps between the experience on the page and the experience required for the job? If so, are there ways in which you could bridge those gaps?
  • What makes your experience stand out among other, similar candidates?
  • Does the top third of your resume serve as a hook to get the hiring manager to read more?
  • Is there anything on your resume that does not need to be there?

Pro Tip: Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people at your level in your field, and see how they tell their stories. Which ones are most compelling or stand out the most? See what you can learn from them and how you can apply those lessons to your own resume.

Step 2: Scrutinize the Bullets and Details

Walk through your resume again. Your job at this point is to look at every section, every sentence, and every word, and determine if there is a better way to get your point across. If you can provide an example and express your point more effectively—do it. For each bullet point, ask:

  • Is this the strongest possible language you could use?
  • Can anything be said more clearly? Or in fewer words?
  • Is there any language that someone outside of your company or industry would not understand?
  • Can anything be quantified? Can you show a benefit?
  • Are any words used over and over? Can they be replaced with more creative language?

Pro Tip: Have a friend who is not in your field read your bullet points, and ask what he or she thinks your strongest achievements are. Do you agree? If not, adjust so the most important ones really stand out.

Step 3: Fact Check

It is a good idea to check the facts in your resume. Sometimes unintentionally numbers or words get switched around and the wrong message is sent—so it is a great idea to focus on the accuracy of your facts.

Read every word on your resume again, this time asking yourself:

  • Are the companies you worked for named the same thing? Still located in the same city?
  • Are your position titles accurate? Are your employment dates correct?
  • Are all of the numbers and percentages you use (reasonably) accurate?

Pro Tip: As long as you are reasonably sure that you increased customer satisfaction, fundraising numbers, or sales 25%, do not worry about having the “official” numbers to prove it.

Step 4: Proofread

Proofreading one last time is a step you can’t skip. It is strongly recommended to have someone else look your resume over. But before you do, proof word by word, asking yourself:

  • Are there any typos? Wrong word usage?
  • Does each bullet point end with a period (or not)? Either is fine, just be consistent.
  • Are you using the serial comma (or not) throughout?

Pro Tip: When proofreading, it’s helpful to temporarily change the font, or to read your resume from the bottom up—your eyes get used to reading a page one way, and can often catch new errors when you mix the format up.

Step 5: Make Sure it Looks Nice

While you don’t have to send your resume off to a graphic designer, do keep in mind that presentation is important, and that a few adjustments to your text can make a big difference in how it looks. Give it a final once-over with a designer’s eye, considering:

  • Does the page look visually appealing?
  • Is the page overly cluttered?
  • Is the font size too small? Is it difficult to read?
  • Is the font size and format for each section consistent?
  • Does the layout make sense?
  • Is your contact information easily findable?

Pro Tip: Make your document easier to skim by adding divider lines between sections. Check out section three of this great guide to resume formatting from LifeClever for instructions.


As a final note, it is recommended that you edit your resume again and again. Add in your new accomplishments, shift the way you talk about an experience based on something you have seen someone else do, and make sure there is nothing you have missed.

After all, as any writer or editor will tell you: The best masterpieces are never done.


Read more: Cover Letter Basics and Resume Basics

Read the original article on Muse, written by Adrian Granzella Larssen (Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Muse)