How to Avoid Bad Resume Advice
We’ve all received bad career advice at some point. Mine came from an aunt who said: “You should be a chemical engineer. You’d be good at it.” Two years of advanced math and 627 headaches later, I decided she was wrong.
Here’s some bad career advice on resume writing that my clients have received from friends and co-workers. My suggested solutions follow.
Bad Resume 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 Resume Advice #2 — People don’t have time to read a two-page résumé.
“By saying less you are saying more,” is what one colleague told a client of mine. Rubbish.
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 five years of my own resume writing experience tell me that long, interesting copy always outsells short copy.
You can say a lot in two pages, which is the maximum length I recommend. Try to shoot for a mix of 30-40% duties and 60-70% achievements when describing your experience at each job.
Bad Resume 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 recent client of mine was prevented from working in his industry by a non-compete 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 left your industry.
Remember what Satan, as played by Al Pacino, once said: “The worst vice is advice.” While that’s not always true, 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 ….