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The (only) 3 people you should ask to review your resume

Published on: Apr 13, 2017


Jenny Headshot [square] Jenny Foss is a career strategist, recruiter, and the voice behind the popular career website,, which offers advice and services for navigating job search and career transition.






So, you did it: you finished your wonderful, eloquent, detailed-yet-concise resume draft that, surely, will be instrumental in your landing that next amazing job. 

There’s just one thing yet to do, to make sure your resume is truly as awesome as it can be: proofread and edit that baby.

Easy enough, right?

Just send a copy of your resume to everyone in your contact list, from mom to your old coworker from four years ago, asking for feedback.

Slow down there, champ. Chances are, you’re probably sending it to way too many people, which means that in a couple days, you’ll be deluged with corrections and advice, some of which may be contradictory or uninformed. The more pairs of eyes you have looking at your resume -- and the more people giving advice all at once -- the more confused or overwhelmed you’re likely going to become.

Does that mean you shouldn’t ask for input? Absolutely not. Getting people you know and trust to review your masterpiece will help take some bias out of your edits and may evoke ideas you hadn’t even considered. And, of course, there’s the issue of getting your resume through the scanning software (also known as an applicant tracking system). This is a skill in itself. You'll want to get feedback from someone who knows how they work, and can help you set up your resume in a way that plays nice with the ATS, so that you get a shot with the human decision makers.

So definitely get some input from others. Just limit the number of people you ask.

Instead of asking everyone and their brother for feedback, focus on these three people:

1. Someone who is a grammar wiz

Maybe it’s your copy editor sister-in-law, or maybe it’s  that one friend who corrects your grammar all. the. time (texts and social media posts included). Find someone who knows you well and can also weed out any accidental typos or stray commas. This way, you get the personal level feedback, while also getting those nitty-gritty technical edits out of the way.

Killing two birds with one stone. Double whammy. Whatever you want to call it, this person is a must. 

However, this reviewer (probably) can’t help you with edits that will help ensure your resume passes (successfully) through the applicant tracking system when you apply online. Unless he or she has experience or knowledge about the system, you won't likely find much counsel from your grammar wiz friend about this aspect of the process. 

2. A recruiter or HR person

These are the reviewers who will likely know what’s what in terms of the resume scanning software, and can give very helpful input specific to what to put on your resume (or what not to include). They’re going to know how to evaluate the structure and format of your new resume, advise on its odds of passing through the applicant tracking software, and help you fix the "red flag" areas.

This is crucial. Getting past this software is paramount for every job seeker using online application processes as part of their job search. Most often -- especially with mid- to large-sized firms -- your resume won't get into the hands of an actual human until it passes successfully through the resume scanning software. 

Don’t be one of those applicants. Beat the system, and have a recruiter or HR friend help you edit your resume to passing glory. 

These people also often know what the hiring manager wants to hear and how hiring decisions are made, so they may also be able to give you guidance on how to captivate your target audience. They may even know the hiring manager to whom you’re sending your application to, and can help you target the resume to that specific individual or team.

And finally…

3. A hiring manager or executive leader

Often, this is they only type of person job seekers turn to for resume feedback or advice, and this can be a mistake. A hiring manager, executive, or other higher-up leader in an company or industry will, of course, be able to tell you what he or she is looking for in an applicant or what they like to see on a resume. A hiring manager can also likely share specifics on what makes a resume a standout and how you can make sure yours is one of them.

On the flip side -- and this is something a lot of people probably never consider -- hiring managers and executives often don't really know much about how the resume scanning software works. These players when they finally do see the resumes coming through, only see them after they pass through said software, which means you’re not likely to get helpful advice from them on how to get through the system in the first place. In fact, they may even encourage you to make edits that will make your resume less applicant tracking system-friendly. And that won't be a good thing.

So, you can see why it's important to have more than one person review and share feedback on your masterpiece. But be strategic about it, and specific.

Applying for jobs is already stressful, so you don’t need 10 different emails coming in telling you how to fix your resume. It’s overwhelming. It’s unnecessary.

And it could leave you more confused than at ease with your final product.

Pick your people wisely. Thank them profusely. And then?

Follow your gut on which edits to incorporate in that dazzling final product.

A version of this article originally appeared on