Rate my résumé

We had hiring managers and HR professionals look at six résumés. Here are their critiques.
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The applicants

college graduate

College graduate

  • Age: Early 20s
  • Wants: Her first job.
Technology professional

Technology professional

  • Age: Mid-50s
  • Wants: To find a way to compete with younger job searchers.
Financial services

Financial services

  • Age: Early 30s
  • Wants: To make his resume better show his knowledge and experience.
Biotech professional

Biotech professional

  • Age: Early 50s
  • Wants: To change companies after 18 years at present one.
legal secretary

Legal secretary

  • Age: Mid-40s
  • Wants: To change industries, from legal to biotech. Looking for a career rather than a job.
social sector

Social sector

  • Age: Early 50s
  • Wants: A job in public or nonprofit industry.

The experts


Tom Egan is vice president of talent acquisition for Veritude, a staffing service specializing in IT and professional staffing. He has had 16 years of experience in the technical staffing industry. Since joining Veritude seven years ago, Tom has helped in developing the strategy for — and recruiting methodologies of — the company’s Talent Acquisition Group.


Randy Stevens is the president and CEO of R L. Stevens and Associates Inc., based out of Waltham. R.L. Stevens is a national firm specializing in career management by helping professionals and executives pinpoint the right career opportunities and increase their market exposure to employers.

Radhika Rana, CSP, is a recruiting supervisor at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), one of the largest staffing firms in Massachusetts. In addition to managing PSG’s recruiting division, Radhika assists non-profits, such as The Asian American Civic Association, with resume critiquing and mock interviews.
College graduate
Financial services
Technology Professional

Technology professional

  • Age: Mid-50s
  • Wants: To find a way to compete with younger job searchers. She lost her job due to downsizing by her former employer, and is concerned her age will affect her job prospects in the current market.
See her résumé

6. What made the résumé interesting? Did the person do anything unique to make their résumé stick out?

Egan: I liked the candidate's "knowledge base" section. However, I would rename this section "technical skills." If the candidate wanted to make her résumé even more unique, she could:

  • Include a section in her résumé or a cover letter that stated why she felt she was a match for the specific job for which she was applying.
  • Include one or two written references or recommendations that she had collected from previous jobs.

Stevens: The qualifications summary provides good, quick overview of depth of experience. However, the accomplishments aren't detailed until pages 2 and 3. Education and specialized training should be bundled and at end of the résumé, and certifications should be a component of the "qualifications summary."

7. What do you think of how education is presented?

Egan: The candidate's education in the format presented is fine, however, I would move the "education" section toward the end of the résumé as noted in question 3.

Stevens: Given this client has a plethora of experience, her education should be shown as the last thing, particularly because her primary degree is a BA in history.

Rana: The education presented on the résumé is beneficial as it does not just include education information but also dividing sections for knowledge base, specialized certifications, and specialized training.

8. What do you think how work experience is presented?

Egan: The candidate should definitely use more bullets and fewer long paragraphs in the "professional experience" section to make her résumé easier to read and understand.

The candidate's actual professional experience detailed in this section shows me that she has the background, skills, and experience to be qualified for a network manager. However, I would prefer that the candidate detail the actual projects that she worked on along with her role(s) and technical skills used.

Stevens: There's too much focus on responsibilities and an insufficient amount of details about actual achievements that would differentiate her from the competition.

Rana: The candidate has presented her work experience in a chronological order, which recruiters prefer to see.

9. What do you think of the language used?

Egan: The amount of buzz words is a little overwhelming.

The language is concise and generally to the point. It conveys a good picture of what the candidate has accomplished in previous jobs.

Stevens: Language could be more achievement-oriented — Responsible-for statements aren't making the candidate stand out from the competition in terms of value or benefit.

10. Overall, how does the résumé flow from section to section?

Egan: For better flow from section to section, I would definitely change the order of the candidate's credentials presenting her summary of qualifications first, followed by her knowledge base (technical skills). I would then immediately follow that with her professional experience and move her education, specialized certifications, and specialized training to the end of the résumé.

Stevens: The résumé leaves a reader begging for answers to what makes THIS candidate different or special from all others. There are too many thick and long paragraphs, and it makes the reader skim through it.

Rana: The flow of the résumé from section to section is smooth and very easy to read. It's not a jumpy résumé, so there's no hopping around from page to page. It's a smooth read all the way through the end.

The applicants

We took résumés from six different people looking for jobs and asked professionals to give us their opinion. See what they had to say.

College graduate

College graduate

  • Age: Early 20s
  • Wants: Her first job.
  • Biotech professional

    Biotech professional

  • Age: Early 50s
  • Wants: To change companies after 18 years at present one.
  • Technology professional

    Technology professional

  • Age: Mid-50s
  • Wants: To find a way to compete with younger job searchers.
  • Legal secretary

    Legal secretary

  • Age: Mid-40s
  • Wants: To change industries, from legal to biotech. Looking for a career rather than a job.
  • Financial services

    Financial services

  • Age: Early 30s
  • Wants: To make his resume better show his knowledge and experience.
  • Social sector

    Social sector

  • Age: Early 50s
  • Wants: A job in public or nonprofit industry.