Getting Advice on Your Resume

From Diary of a Layoff by Greg Quirk

Putting together your resume is a daunting task.  How do you properly convey your entire professional life in a one- or two-page document in such a way that a hiring manager or HR professional will want to pick up the phone and call you for an interview?  It is something that I find is very personal because I spent a lot of time on it and worked on it for days before I was happy with it to the point of being able to send it out.  Of course, you are going to want to look at examples and have someone review it before sending it because you want it to be the best that it can be.  As they say you only get one chance to make a first impression.

However, there is no consistent format for resumes.  I’ve been using Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 as my template, but it is a very unorthodox format compared to what people expect – very short, includes graphics and reference quotes, and for the most part it uses bullet points instead of sentences.  This can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  It is good because it can help to set you apart from the crowd and hopefully makes someone stop and take a closer look at your resume.  But it can also be bad because the hiring manager might be expecting one thing (if they take the time to open your resume) which is different than what you are providing.

I had a blog post about 5 tips I found to be useful when creating a resume and one of the tips was to consolidate the resume to one page.  Shortly after the post I had an HR friend e-mail me and tell me that he liked the blog but that he disagrees with my one-page format. As an HR professional he believes that cover letters are discarded and that he will review a resume to get as much information about a person before he decides to contact them.  Basically, he uses the resume to determine a proper professional fit which is very difficult to convey in a one page resume.

I have found that if you give your resume to 10 people for comments you will get 10 completely different responses.  Every person out there has written a resume at one point or another, and since they are employed, they believe that they know how to best write a resume.  While grammatical edits are always welcome (you would hate to have a word misspelled or a period missing in a resume) when it comes to specific wording or format that is when I start feeling personally attacked.  I’m not sure why I feel this way since I know the reviewer is just trying to help me, but because a resume is portraying what you have done over the past years it feels like it is a part of me and not just some document.  And maybe it is because the person giving the advice is not really a professional.

There is a lengthy discussion on LinkedIn titled “Are professional resume writing services worth the cost?” (not sure if the link works if you are not part of the The Job Board group).  Over the past 3 months there have been 106 comments on the topic and after reading many of them I am still not sure what my thoughts are on the subject.  As David Perry put in his blog, you have to Own the words on your resume, otherwise you could potentially look like a fool in front of the interviewer.  But a professional resume writing service should not be making drastic changes to your resume, they should just help you put the best “face” on it that they can so that it does get noticed.

One thing I learned when editing articles for EETimes was that you have to let the writer’s personality show through their words.  While I would like to rewrite many things because I think it would sound better my way it changes the feeling of the document.  Each person has a distinct writing style and uses certain words that distinguishes them from another writer (I know I have a list of words that I use when I write.  It is just my style).  Just because the words chosen are not the words that you would have picked does not mean that it is wrong, it is just different.

At the end of the day, this post is about owning your own resume and being confident in what you have created.  It may not be the best (and it likely never will be) but it is a representation of you so be proud of what you have accomplished!

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