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February 2012
What is a Good Resume?
by Susan Reynolds

A good resume is the resume you actually get someone to read and believe! I find myself very frequently involved in discussions where people have been persuaded that there is a certain "right" way to format their resume. They wander from reader to reader, and get a different set of opinions and preferences.

So after 25 years of writing resumes, speeches and other professional communications, here's my take on it. They're all right... and they're all wrong.

Here's why. Each reader has the "right" to have preferences of every kind: format, type font, paper color, number of pages, on and on. Each reader has a series of opinions of how not to have the wool pulled over their eyes; by wanting the job seekers history portrayed a certain way. But the job seeker has "rights" too! The right to honestly portray their background, experience, and capabilities in the best possible light. But how to do that in a fashion that works?

Make every decision strategically! Can you use a straight chronological format? Sure, if the last job you had is just like the job you want. Can you stay on one page? Sure, if you can quickly portray enough of the evidence of your qualifications to get yourself seriously considered. Should you stop at ten years history or define your whole career? Should you use months and years of employment? Years of degrees? Hobbies?

Each decision will actually involve some sort of trade-off. If you become too creative, maybe you won't get "read". But if you aren't strategic enough, you won't be a candidate. What to do? Make every decision strategically.

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at NewMarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search, career strategy, and resume-writing firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers. She can be reached at or 661-755-3308.

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