by Margot Note, Director of Archives and Information Management for the World Monuments Fund
previously published 12/17/14
Forty Resume Tweaks to Get You an Interview
During your job search, a well-crafted resume is vital. As a representation of yourself, it is the first impression you make on potential employers. Like any piece of writing that has been reviewed multiple times, you tend not to read it after awhile. If you’ve been job seeking without success, looking at your resume with new eyes many land you an interview—and your next library job. Here are some questions to ask yourself while refreshing your resume:
1. How does the resume promote you as a suitable candidate?
2. What should you emphasize for the position you are seeking?
3. What makes your experience surpass other candidates?
4. Have you made sure to focus on your accomplishments, rather than on your job responsibilities?
5. Are you giving your accomplishments context and explaining exactly how you achieved them?
6. Have you over- or understated anything?
7. Have you perused LinkedIn profiles of people with similar work experience? Is there any phrasing you can co-opt for your resume?
8. Is your resume one page? If it is longer, can you justify its length? If you need a second page, place your most relevant experience on the first.
9. Are your bullet points listed in order of importance, with your best and most relevant achievements first?
10. Does anything on your resume seem superfluous?
11. Can you say anything more clearly or with fewer words?
12. Are there unnecessary adjectives or adverbs?
13. Have you used buzzwords, rather than examples of demonstrated success?
14. Are you employing the strongest language to describe your accomplishments?
15. Are you using power verbs, such as directed, improved, launched?
16. Can anything be quantified?
17. Are any words being used repetitively? Can better words replace them?
18. Are you using jargon that readers may not understand?
19. Have you divided your resume into sections, such as Experience, Education, and Skills?
20. Is the layout and section order logical?
21. Do you feel comfortable asking a colleague or mentor review your resume? Does he or she believe that the resume accurately reflects your work?
22. Can you ask a friend outside of the library, archives, and museum environment to review your resume? What feedback can he or she provide?
23. Do the organizations you worked for still have the same name? Are they still located in the same city?
24. Are your position titles accurate?
25. Are your employment and education dates correct?
26. Is your contact information current? Is it easily findable?
27. Are the numbers and percentages you use to quantify your success accurate?
28. Have you tried proofreading your resume by reading it aloud to yourself, printing it out and reading it, or reading it backwards line by line?
29. Have you temporarily changed your font to help find errors?
30. Are you using serial commas or not? Either is fine, as long as it’s consistent.
31. Similarly, does each bullet point end with a period or not?
32. Is the page visually appealing?
33. Is your resume cluttered? Does it have enough white space?
34. Is the font size too small?
35. Is the font easy to read? Consider using Georgia, which was designed for computer screens, rather than Times New Roman.
36. Is there enough line spacing? To improve readability, increase the leading to at least 120% of the font size. In Word, highlight the text and right-click to select Paragraph. In the pulldown menu under Line Spacing, choose “Exactly” and set the spacing to two points more the size of your font. For example, if your font is 10 point, select 12.
37. Is the format and font size for each section consistent?
38. Are the margins suitable? If more room is required, reduce the top and bottom margins to 0.5″ and the side margins to no less than 0.75.”
39. Have you created a PDF of the final resume? A PDF retains your formatting and makes accidental changes impossible.
40. Is the file name helpful? Change it to “[First Name] [Last Name] Resume” to make it easier to find your information. Include a job ID if necessary.
Crafting a resume is an ongoing project of iterative improvement, much like a career in the information field. Periodically reviewing your resume prepares you for your next big opportunity in the library, archives, or museum of your dreams. I wish the best of luck to my LIS colleagues employing these improvements!
Margot Note is a New York based archivist and librarian. She has spent her career working in the cultural heritage sector, including colleges, libraries, and archives. She holds a Master’s in History from Sarah Lawrence College, a Master’s in Library and Information Science, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Archives and Records Management, both from Drexel University. She currently works as the Director of Archives and Information Management at World Monuments Fund, an international historic preservation organization. She can be reached via Twitter or LinkedIn.
Editor’s Note: We used both “40” (republished one) and “Forty” (original one) in the title.