Bad Career Advice … And What To Do About It

Bad Career Advice

We’ve all received bad career advice at some point.

Mine came from an aunt who said: “You should be a chemical engineer.” Two years of disastrous math study and hundreds of headaches later, I decided she was wrong.

Here’s some bad career advice on resume writing that my clients have received from their friends and co-workers. Suggested solutions follow.

Bad Advice #1 — Don’t sell yourself too hard in your resume.

Nonsense. You should claim the highest levels of skill and achievement possible in your resume. This is not being pushy or aggressive. This is being competitive. You’re not the only one who wants that job, after all.

Corollary: Selling yourself strongly is not to be confused with making “factually inaccurate statements,” i.e., lies. Stick to the truth. It’s easier to remember.

Bad Advice #2 — People don’t have time to read a two-page resume.

“By saying less, you are saying more,” is what one writer told a client of mine.

Rubbish – Nonsense – Baloney – Hogwash ­- Bull­!

People don’t have time to read a BORING resume or one that’s ILL-SUITED to the job opening. But 95 years of advertising research and thirty-five years of my own resume reading and writing experience tell me that long, interesting copy always outsells short copy.

Corollary: Two pages is the maximum length I recommend. You can say a lot in that amount of space. Try to shoot for a mix of 20-30% duties and 70-80% achievements when describing each job.

Bad Advice #3 — Include your salary and reasons for leaving each job.

Never include your salary and include reasons for leaving in rare cases only.

For example, a client of mine was prevented from working in his industry by a legal agreement. Here’s how I explained his transition from the seafood business back into computers:

“Sold firm at twice original revenue and re-entered high-tech sector upon expiration of three-year non-compete agreement.”

You can use similar language to explain why you left a job or industry.

So, be sure to consider the source the next time you get a hot tip on resume writing from someone who doesn’t do it full-time ….

The future is in your hands.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash


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