Resume Checklist

The first resume that you upload to Handshake is reviewed based on the basic resume standards listed below. Your resume must meet these criteria before you may apply to positions in Handshake. The time involved in the review process will vary depending on how much work the resume needs, so plan ahead!


1.  Error-free.
Proofread your resume several times for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors (these small errors can really hurt you.) Ask others to do the same for you, and don’t rely on spell check.

2.  Reverse chronological order.
Each section of the resume must be in reverse chronological order by end date.

3.  Education and Experience sections are included.
While the section headers can vary, every resume should include both education and experience.

4.  Professional language instead of casual language.
Instead of “Helped my boss by calling donors” say “Assisted with donor outreach”

5.  Accurate and honest in describing your experience.
Never embellish or misrepresent.

6.  Action verb phrases used consistently.
Instead of “Responsibilities included proofreading and editing ad copy,” say “Proofread and edited ad copy.” See the Resume Guide for a list of action verbs.

7.  Concise.
Think in phrases instead of sentences and choose your words carefully.

8.  Quantifiable, hard and relevant skills in the skills section
Use skills like computer, language, lab and technical skills, etc. Include proficiency levels where appropriate. Soft skills, such as organization or communication are best illustrated through targeted descriptions of each experience.

9.  GPA included for finance and consulting firms.
Cumulative or major, whichever is higher, or both.

10. Accomplishment and skill-oriented with numbers and details as appropriate.
Instead of “Worked with budget” say “Managed $1000 budget.”


11. One page long.
Focus on the most relevant and/or transferable skills and experiences. Frances Perkins students and students applying for research/medical, international positions or graduate school requiring a c.v. may be exceptions.

12.  Consistent throughout
Keep consistent with verb tense, dates, punctuation, spacing, language style, and order of information. Common pitfall: switching between 2009 and ’09 notation.

13.  No confusing abbreviations or acronyms.
Instead of “WCL” say “Weissman Center for Leadership.”

14.  Font style and size easy to read.
Familiar fonts such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, and Helvetica in 10-12 point size is suggested.

15.  Margins and balance content on page.
No smaller than .5 (.7 to 1.25 preferred.) inches. Utilize the whole page with your text instead of having most of the text on the left side of the page.

16.  Visual elements draw reader’s attention to important information.
Such as:

  • Bullets: action phrases
  • Bold: name, headings, titles, organizations, schools
  • CAPS: name and headings
  • Italics: subheadings and/or titles
  • Underlining: adds emphasis

17.  Consistent format.
The same kind of information in same place and order throughout resume, use “tabs” to align text (not the space bar)

Download a pdf version of our resume rubric.