Like the unicorn of mythology, the perfect resume represents an ideal. Much like that horned stallion (or would that be a mare?), it stands as a proud testimony to itself, marrying quiet confidence with strength, and manifesting promises of great things yet to come. And, like the wondrous, legendary beast, the perfect resume exists but within our imagination.

As a job applicant’s primary tool for securing interviews, a resume can be perfect in that it accurately reflects the job seekers’ background, including employment and academic history. It can be perfect in terms of appropriateness and drama of keywords and/or key phrases used, as well as accomplishments highlighted so as to be easily digestible by prospective employers. It can be perfect in terms of syntax, punctuation, spelling, and layout. However, there are times when perfect is just not perfect enough for some job hunters.

Desperate for immediate job placement and reading their resumes ad infinitum, some applicants make the erroneous assumption that the modification of a single word, the repositioning of a comma, or the deletion of a small phrase can be the “make or break” factor in landing their next job. Once these infinitesimal changes have been effected, the employee-hopeful then uses the resume, gets the interview, and waits to hear the hiring manager’s decision. Learning that the position was not to be his, the job seeker then returns to his resume, demanding further changes that, given the big picture, are microscopic. He has convinced himself that changing, for example, the word “dynamic” to “proactive” will be the employer’s deciding factor in offering him the job resulting from his next interview. And he will repeat this process of teensy weensy changes, again and again, until he has deluded himself that his perfectly good resume, in fact his most excellent resume, is worthless! The job seeker is doing the equivalent of hunting down the mythological unicorn: wasting his time, energy, and at least part of his sanity in hot pursuit of that which does not exist.

There comes a time in every job seeker’s life – and pray it comes sooner than later! – when he must step back and see his resume for what it is, and what it is intended to do. If the resume meets all of the criteria defined in the second paragraph of this article, it is indeed an effective resume. Instead of scrutinizing the resume with a fine toothed comb, the applicant would serve himself far better with the institution and follow-up of a focused job search, beginning with targeted research and ending with a list of potential employers whose openings fit his specific skill sets and achievements. For those hopefuls seeking to transition into new industries, they should ensure that their general competencies are marketable within the new environment, and should bridge any gaps with well-crafted cover letters.

Thus armed, they will find that perfection is at hand! Knowing this, they can be more confident and focused in their search: attributes that will weigh a lot more heavily in terms of job offers than the myopic nit-picking of one’s resume.

Tom Petruzzelli has more than 25 years of experience in the career services industry. As a recruiter and resume writer, his efforts have been instrumental in advancing the careers of thousands of job candidates. His thoughts and philosophies about job hunting may be found at his business Website and about other aspects of life at

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