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Resumé Review
What is your resumé telling an employer?

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Summer 2017, Affinity magazine

Probably the most used service in the Career Center is our resumé review. Every year we see thousands of resumés and, if we were grading those resumés, most would get a passable but hardly exciting “C.”

The biggest overall mistake we see are resumés not written for the needs of the employer but rather following a standard blueprint. As you look to create a new resumé or rework an existing one, ask yourself the following questions to be sure you are writing to help an employer understand the value and strengths you bring.

Do I have the skills to not just complete the tasks in this job but to really thrive in this position?
Generally, if an employer is seriously considering you, they feel you can likely do the position. However, they want someone who will succeed in the position. When reviewing your resumé, think through your accomplishments. What have you done to make the workplace better? How have your responsibilities grown as you gained new knowledge and skills? Make sure that your resumé clearly communicates these ideas and that you are not asking the reader to guess your value. Resumés are not meant to be humble documents — make sure your successes and values are loud and clear!

Am I proving my skills?
It’s very easy to write “excellent customer service skills.” I see it on countless resumés but, unless it’s backed up by proof, it can be empty. Employers want to see demonstrated ability, not just a list of clichéd phrases. So rather than listing a vague skill, explain how you can prove you have excellent customer service. Have you been recognized by management, won an award or expanded your repeat customers? There are many ways you can showcase your skills so the message comes through clearly.

Is this resumé really targeted toward the field?
Whether on the job or in school, you have probably developed a wide variety of skills and abilities, so why just have one resumé for everything? Unless you are applying to a very specific range of jobs, you might need different versions of your resumé that showcase your talents as needed by that position. Read through the job description and explore the company. What wording and ideas come through? Use that in your application so you are connecting with the employer.

If you are looking to make a career transition to a new field, research the needs of the aspired area. For instance, a candidate moving to accounting should think about what is needed in that position. Highlight traits like attention to detail, organization and the ability to communicate complex situations to people outside the field. What in your academics, current job or volunteer position have you done to showcase these strengths? Even if that experience is in a completely different field, those traits hold true. You can still showcase readiness through the skills you have developed.

Dan Gomez-Palacio is the director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center. Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni. To get started, contact Career Services at (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit