The 3 things I look at first when reviewing a resume

Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of other people’s resumes, whether it’s been to review and provide input, or to consider candidates for a communications or public relations role.

As a someone who’s seen the good, bad and excellent when it comes to resumes, and as a communications specialist myself, I’ve found that there are three things that I always notice first when taking in a resume. When a resume has these three things, I find that the document – and the person behind it – make a better first impression.

I’m sharing these three eye-catchers now in case you’d like to make minor tweaks to your resume to improve its appeal to hiring managers who are reading it for the first time too.

The three things that first draw my attention when reviewing a resume are:

1. White space:

A maximum two-page resume with clear headers and white space is easy to digest.

However, as a writer myself, I know that aiming to use more white space makes the task of writing your resume a tad more challenging. Although tactfully writing to get to the point and make an impact with less words can take more effort, it’s worth the investment to ensure your resume makes a good impression.

2. Name, contact and address information:

What’s winning information to including at the top of your resume?

  • Credentials (letters) following your name, indicating that you have a degree, certification, etc.
  • A short headline under your name with keywords relating to the role or job title (Tip: reference the job description for communications-oriented keywords to include.)
  • A professional email address, for example, a combination of your first and last name or initials at Gmail or another contemporary email provider
  • A location, like a city or region, rather than a home address

3. The value one brings:

Start your resume with a “relevant skills” section, appearing right after the section with your name and contact information. Potential employers will see a list of your skills and abilities that align with those required for the job you’re applying for.

The goal in this section is to quickly illustrate how you’re the missing piece of the puzzle that can help the hiring manager, as well as the company, succeed if they hire you. (Learn more about communicating your value in a relevant skills section.)


As a next step, take a look at your resume right now and see if the above three things are reflected in it. If not, I encourage you to take a few minutes and start to incorporate these three elements to help boost your resume’s appeal for the next hiring manager who reviews it.

Drop a comment if you have any questions about updating your resume as described above!

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