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


Maureen Crawford Hentz is a manager of talent acquisition, development and compliance for Osram Sylvania Inc., a lighting manufacturer. She is a nationally recognized expert on social networking and new media recruiting. With more than 15 years of experience, her interests include diversity recruiting, college student recruiting, disabilities in the workplace, business etiquette, and GLBT issues.



Linda Mangini and Wini Chase are based in the Boston Office of McDermott Will & Emery. Mangini has served as the Boston Office Administrator for seven years and Chase is the Boston human resources manager. McDermott is an international law firm with more than 1,100 lawyers and offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, New York, Orange County, Rome, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., as well as a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.
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.
Biotech professional
Social sector
legal secretary

Legal secretary

  • Age: Mid-40s
  • Wants: To change industries, from legal to biotech. Thinks skills developed as a legal secretary would be valuable to a corporation. Now that her children are older, looking to get a career that allows for advancement.
See the résumé

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

Crawford Hentz: I like all the experience on this résumé. There's no question of professional acumen - the question here is going to be why so many jobs?

Mangini and Chase: Nothing on this résumé stood out, nothing really unique, nothing really interesting to separate her from another candidate.

Shea-Morrone: I don't believe there is anything in this résumé that would be considered unique. In general, the content provides the responsibilities of the job.

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

Crawford Hentz: Education section needs some major work. Degrees are important credentials, and it's hard to determine which of these schools granted degrees. Putting Ivy League Extension School and Major City University on the résumé above the high school diploma could be considered obfuscatory. If the candidate is trying to show that she continued her education by taking classes, that should clearly be indicated, but perhaps in a section called "additional training and classes."

The real estate licensure is a bit of a red herring as well. Unless she was applying at a real estate firm, I think this should be left off. In fact, if she is applying at a real estate firm, I wonder if they would question why she wants to be an executive secretary if she has a real estate license.

Mangini and Chase: Education is not clearly presented. Our guess is that she got her high school diploma from City Latin, attended some school at Major City University and Ivy League Extension but that degrees were not awarded. Also, is a Massachusetts Real Estate License necessary for the position? Don't include unnecessary information unless it is pertinent to the position or is required.

Shea-Morrone: My assumption is that she attended both Ivy League Extension School and City University. She does not indicate the course of study and we assume she does not have a degree from either.

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

Crawford Hentz: See question 6.

Mangini and Chase: Presentation of work experience would be better (in our opinion) if it were presented in bullets rather than long paragraphs. With bullet points, you are less likely to repeat yourself - you are forced to be succinct and concrete with your thoughts. This would make it easier for a reviewer to follow the candidate's thought pattern and properly evaluate her work experience.

Shea-Morrone: Experience is presented in chronological order and identifies the kind of industry she performed her legal secretary responsibilities.

9. What do you think of the language used?

Crawford Hentz: Language use is fine here - one specific improvement is to quantify wherever possible: how many attorneys, how much billing, how many documents. It will give the recruiter a context for the jobs. Similarly, it may be a good idea to characterize the law firms (ie: 21 partner firm specializing in employment law; two person firm with expertise in civil litigation).

Mangini and Chase: Language was poor - tenses kept switching from past and present. Grammatical errors appeared throughout the résumé. The information presented didn't give us confidence that the candidate would be able to draft a letter or proofread accurately for attorneys. In actuality, it highlighted her weaknesses.

Shea-Morrone: Language is fine except for the previously mentioned overusage of the word "supported." Supported is the first word used in describing every position.

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

Crawford Hentz: The flow on this résumé is interesting in that it's essentially the same job over and over in different settings. It may be that the candidate can do a competency-based résumé and then list the different settings she has worked in.

Mangini and Chase: Résumé flow is ok going from section to section. It's a standard format.

Shea-Morrone: Résumé flows well.

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.