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Crafting an Effective Resume: A Guide for Job Seekers

Your resume serves as the blueprint of your professional journey. It encapsulates your unique value proposition and showcases your potential to prospective employers. Most people think that you can’t get a job without one.

A common sentiment: "I just stumbled upon a fantastic job opportunity, but I need a resume to apply!"

Likewise, parents often find themselves saying, "My son just graduated from college and is embarking on a job search. He needs a polished resume."

And then there's the classic lament: "I've been sending out applications everywhere, but I'm not getting any interview calls. There must be something wrong with my resume."

But here's the truth: while a well-crafted resume is crucial, most job opportunities arise through networking.

A resume serves as a strategic tool aimed at propelling you to the next stage of the hiring process.

Your resume acts as a foundation, albeit not always in tangible form, but rather through the various components that make up your career trajectory:

  • Education

  • Experience

  • Job progression

  • Networking endeavors

  • Training initiatives

  • Geographical transitions

  • Working from home

  • Side gigs

  • Accolades

  • Volunteer work

  • Technological proficiency

Compiling all these elements into a single document may seem daunting—it's akin to summarizing a lifetime of experiences. However, remember that your resume isn't intended to be a comprehensive autobiography. So what is it then? A resume serves as a strategic tool aimed at propelling you to the next stage of the hiring process.

What constitutes a compelling resume?

A standout resume aligns with the job listing, emphasizes your achievements, adheres to an accessible format, and is easily readable. Think of your resume as prime advertising space where every word matters. Too much content can overwhelm the reader and lead to your profile being overlooked. Choose your words wisely and respect the white space. After all, the average time spent reviewing a resume is a mere 7 seconds!

  1. First you want to give context: Who are you, what do you do, and what you can offer. Start off with a brief profile that gives your value statement - what you can bring to the position you're applying for.  >>>Why this works: It lets the reader know it’s a possible match and worth a closer look. It answers the “tell us about yourself” question. And it gives an opportunity to differentiate you from other applicants.

  2. After the profile, list the expertise/skill/software that pertain to the job you're applying for.  >>>Why this works: Remember the 7 second rule - listing the keywords makes it easy to scan and eliminates the need to read through. It answers the question of “do you have the requirements for the job.”

  3. For the job descriptions, you don't want to list your responsibilities - you want to highlight your accomplishments in the role. You can assume that the hiring manager knows the details of most job functions. This is where you show how you stand apart from the other applicants. (It's the hardest part of writing a resume.) >>>Why this works: From the reader’s perspective, “Tell me something I don’t know and I’ll keep reading.”

  4. In most cases, you should only include the experience that pertains to the job you're applying for from the last ten years. >>>Why this works: You don’t want to take up valuable space with dated material. Old software, early stages of your career, and career changes and gaps are distracting to the reader and might possibly take away from your value.

  5. Unless you're a recent grad with little to no experience, education is last. >>>Why this works: It makes for a solid finish.

  6. Certifications, unless they pertain to the job listing and there's room, aren't necessary and can go on your LinkedIn profile. >>>Why this works: It comes down to 7 seconds. If they want to know more, they’ll ask. 


  • If you're applying through an application portal, the most basic and cleanest (no lines, columns, symbols) document is best and should be a Word document (.docx).

  • If you're attaching it to an email, first and foremost follow the instructions given. You may be able to attach a custom designed PDF design that shows some style. If they ask for a Word document, then plain is better.

  • If you're lucky enough to hand it over in person, you can submit a custom-designed PDF

  • Picture on resume - yes or no? No picture. And the reason for that is that it can set up the company for a discrimination suit. If they want to know what you look like, they can see you on your LinkedIn profile.

Remember this: 

Your goal, once you apply for a job, is to get to the next step in the process. This is where you can expand on your career and tell all the great stories you thought you had to pack into your resume.

Pro Resume Works founder Lisa Dubino is a writer, sales professional, and mom to two teenage boys.


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