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Top Five Questions About Resumes Answered

Top Five Questions About Resumes Answered

By Dawn Rasmussen

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of competing information out there for job seekers on how to write your resume.

It’s confusing, isn’t it? And frustrating… because as soon as you change your resume based on the advice someone gave you, another person tells you that they liked it better the way you used to have it.

The truth is that there is no “perfect” way to write a resume.

But there are some strong strategies you can use to try and hit as many marks with potential employers as possible.

Here are the top five questions about resumes that most job seekers ask, and how you should use the answers in your own job search:

1. What are employers looking for in a resume?
Employers are looking for value. While it is easy to think that the resume is about US, it’s really about THEM. Every company going through a search is evaluating potential candidates in terms of what did you do for the previous company as a way to guess as to what you might be able to do for them.

2. Should I get a LinkedIn profile set up too?
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, you are missing the boat. Every serious job seeker needs to get on LinkedIn and create a profile. Why? Because if you aren’t on there, they can’t find you. It’s important to realize how important having a digital footprint is nowadays.

3. How should I format my resume?
Clearly defining each section is job #1 so you are guiding the reader to different discussion areas of your background. Then try using a job title headline at the top of your document (after your contact info) to connect your background to the job opening.

Under each job record, avoid just listing job duties. The employer wants to know “So what?” so try to tell a story that shows results… using the Challenge – Action – Result formula to illustrate the problem, how you solved it, and how the company benefited.

4. Do I have to stick with one page?
No, you don’t have to stick to one page, but only if you have important things to share. Filling pages up with endless fluff is much more damaging than a single page of hard-hitting results. But if you have important accomplishments to share, then by all means, take the second page. But don’t go to three pages – only executives, scientists, or technology folks should push to that third page.

5. How far back do I go in work history?
As illegal as it is, employers are discriminating against older workers. That means your best bet is to limit your resume to going back no more than 10-15 years ago. Understand that employers care more about what you have done most recently.

If you use these tips as ways to guide your own resume development, you’ll be a lot farther down the road to connecting your background to what an employer needs!

Rasmussen 2012Dawn Rasmussen, a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), is the President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services based in Portland, Oregon. She offers resume writing, cover letter crafting, and job search coaching services to clients across the U.S. and Canada. A renowned speaker on career management topics, she has shared her expertise as a columnist for One+ Magazine and a jobs expert for Talentzoo.

Additionally, she is recognized for her contributions to Careerealism, a top-ranked career advice blog, and the weekly Twitter discussion, #Tchat, hosted by TalentCulture. Rasmussen has also been cited in prominent media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, CBSMoneyWatch, and Careerbuilder.


  1. Pat

    Those are some great tips Dawn. I always recommend keeping your resume to one or two pages and highlighting the skills and/or training that help you stand out and act as qualifiers for why you should be hired. I never really thought about the importance of creating a LinkedIn profile, however it makes a lot of sense and i’m glad you brought that up. I’d also recommend making sure you keep a clean Facebook account as recruiters, interviewers and companies like to use social networks to determine whether or not they feel a potential employee is a good fit for them.

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