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

Carolyn Shea-Morrone has been a recruiter with Boston Scientific’s Global Staffing organization for the past eight years. She has helped support many of the company's businesses including Endosurgery, Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) and Interventional Cardiology (IC) as well as corporate functions which include: Clinical, Sales & Marketing Regulatory, R& D. Prior to Boston Scientific Corporation, Shea-Morrone recruited in the hospital setting.

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.
Financial services
Legal secretary
Biotech professional

Biotech professional

  • Age: Early 50s
  • Wants: This biotech veteran has been at the same firm for 18 years, but wants a fresh start somewhere else. He would prefer to work for a small company or start-up that is more in tune with his personality.
See his résumé

1. What is your first impression of the résumé? Do you want to continue reading it?

Carolyn Shea-Morrone of Boston Scientific: The candidate's résumé presents and reads well. Yes, I would continue to read it because it's an easy read — easy to follow by employer, dates of employment, and position/title.

Randy Stevens of R.L. Stevens and Associates: Clean, crisp, and easy to read. Good use of white space surrounding all copy, verbiage indent from outer corners of page are wide, and good use of bullets that ensures fast readability and digestibility of information.

Yes. Recruiters have only 5 to 10 seconds to determine when reading a résumé (really, skimming) the viability of a candidate. First impressions must communicate non-verbally, professionalism, information authenticity, and inherent respect for a recruiter or decision maker's time.

Radhika Rana of the Professional Staffing Group (PSG): At the first glance, the candidate's résumé needs to be cleaned up. The first impression leaves me indifferent about reading the résumé or not.

2. In general, how important is the first impression?

Shea-Morrone: First impressions are very important. A good first impression will means that the time will be invested in reading that résumé.

Stevens: Most recruiters and decision makers, as well as their screeners use intuition to determine in a matter of seconds, whether candidate is worthy of their time.

Rana: The first impression of any résumé is very important because it represents the individual and many times the way they represent themselves. As a recruiter, the résumé is what makes our decision to want to bring the person in for an interview.

3. What do you think about the design of the résumé?

Shea-Morrone:

  • Font style/ size - good font size
  • Margins - good margin size
  • Bulletpoints v. long paragraphs - bulleted format
  • Colors - no colors - appropriate choice
  • Number of pages - 2 - appropriate based on experience
  • Overall presentation - good; clear, crisp, easy read

Stevens: There is excellent use of white space, and the bullet points in this résumé enable the reader to quickly distinguish each thought or point. The résumé was kept to two pages, which is the preferred page length. Good use of summarization not only of achievements but also education, awards, and publications.

The overall presentation is precision-like which is suitable for the types of recruiters and decision makers for this market. In addition, centering the address is great choice for faster readability versus what many candidates use. It adds a nice visual balance to rest of document which has such good, wide margins.

Rana: In regards to the design of the résumé, it certainly needs a makeover. The first thing the candidate should do is align the margins and justify the text. By adjusting the text and margins, it will definitely make the résumé look a lot better.

4. In general, how important is a résumé's design?

Shea-Morrone: See question 2.

Stevens: Résumé design is critical to ensuring a positive impression is made. Unless in creative fields, a résumé design should be conservative in appearance like this one.

Rana: In general, the design of a résumé is helpful. The more organized the résumé is the easier it is to read.

5. After reading the résumé, what is your impression of the candidate?

Shea-Morrone: The candidate has good qualifications and has a very stable employment history.

Stevens: I'm left with many questions on the "how" of what made this person successful. He has detailed many awards he has won, but the résumé doesn't paint a deeper picture of what differentiates him from his competition that gains him these awards. Thus, while the résumé is crisp visually, it lacks substance to differentiate the candidate from any others with similar qualifications.

Rana: My impression of the candidate is that he is much appreciated at the one firm he has worked for since 1990. He gained a lot of experience at the biotechnology firm.

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.