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


Bob Eubank is the executive director of the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA). He joined NEHRA in 2007 and his background blends human resources with general business management, legal, information systems, operations and strategic planning.

Sean Kenney is a partner at Essex Partners, a career management firm exclusively for senior executives. He helps clients from financial services, life sciences, healthcare, higher education and non-profit organizations position and market themselves for successful advancement.

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.
Technology professional
Biotech professional
Financial services

Financial services

  • Age: Early 30s
  • Wants: A position in a project management or leadership role. He was laid off after 10 years with former employer because of cost-cutting. Has strong interpersonal skills, and wants his résumé show his knowledge and experience.
See his résumé

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

Eubank: Two things: 1) My eye went immediately to the title VP in the most recent position and this led to an assessment of the level right away. 2) An early job was HR related, and I note training and presentation work later on. This may indicate a progression that would be interesting to explore. How does this manager regard people?

Kenney: The layout is probably the most interesting aspect of the résumé.

Rana: The candidate's professional experiences made the résumé interesting.

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

Eubank: OK, but I'd like to see some examples of success while a student. Student body president, dean's list, leader of some activity, GPA, etc.

Kenney: The presentation of education in this résumé is fine.

Rana: I think the education on the candidate's résumé is presented well along with the licenses he's received.

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

Eubank: This is where I have the most difficultly with this résumé. Were I reading this (for real) I would have rejected it after reading the first position for the following reasons:

  • The résumé does not distinguish between a description of the job and the bulleted accomplishments of the job. (The third job presents more accomplishments than the first two).
  • Vagueness and sloppy grammar: Use of the word "excellence" in the first bullet. Driving excellence could be expressed better. How many individuals were managed, what were the "excellence" criteria?
  • Second Bullet - similar problem …" deliver our franchise capabilities accordingly" and then a "sale" instead of "sales" management process. For many readers, this grammatical error would be a knock-out punch.
  • Next bullet: much too vague to say," Coach field associates on behavioral aspects of partnering." The reader is left wondering what that really means. What problem was solved?
  • We don't know what "Partnerships for Growth" is or strategic cross-channel partnerships in the context of this position. Tell the reader what they are and why these things are important.
  • "Present at national, divisional and market team meetings to ensure leadership adoption". Present, as is in physically present, or present as in presentation. Leadership adoption of what and why was it important? I can intuit what this means, but the reader should not have to do that — most won't work that hard.
  • "Train national team of 2000+ associates on process and technology for tracking activity." This may well have been a major success and of great importance, but the reader has no idea of which processes, technology, or tracking activity we are talking about. Why is this important and impressive?
  • "Review and enhance process to ensure ease of doing business." Same comment as above.
  • Last bullet changes the tense from all the bullets before it. "Created" as opposed to Create, or Train or Present, etc. This is off-putting to the reader and may suggest that some sloppy cut and paste work has taken place. Next position continues the tense.

As mentioned, I would have stopped there. But had I continued, my reaction to the next section would have similar comments (although the tenses are correct) but there are also way too many bullets, too much redundancy and it is too dense. This section is not going to get read. Again, the overall major issue is that the job description should be separated from the major accomplishments achieved on the job.

The third position has some excellent concrete examples of success - closed over $62 million and cross-selling initiative that led to a 32 percent increase — but again is not separated from basic job descriptors.

I would consider cutting the final job. I don't think it really helps the case - only there for continuity.

Kenney: The bullets are a mix of responsibilities (e.g. "Responsible for driving sales performance, productivity and excellence nationally") and accomplishments (e.g. "Closed over $62 million, generating in excess of $750,000 in revenues"). Achievements are more compelling — just because one was responsible for something doesn't mean they did it well. I would suggest having two sentences under each job that outline the scope of responsibilities for the position (manage X, have X direct reports, responsible for X). Then restrict the bullets to well-defined and expressed accomplishments. How much did you grow revenues? Save costs? Create efficiencies? Develop new products, systems, etc? What was the business outcome of your efforts?

Rana: The candidate has presented his work experience in chronological order which recruiters prefer to see as it is much easier to understand the candidate's work history.

9. What do you think of the language used?

Eubank: Aside from the vagueness concern expressed earlier, it is reasonable. It just could be much more precise and hard-hitting.

Kenney: The language was good and responsibilities were descriptive, providing quantified accomplishments in places.

Rana: I think the language used is professional.

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

Eubank: The flow is fine. The format lends itself nicely to that.

Kenney: There is a clear flow from section to section.

Rana: The résumé has a total of three sections, and it flows smoothly section to section.

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.