I am writing this while still a bit ticked off, so please bear with me. I know there are many great resume writers out there – some of them I know personally. But I just heard something a few days ago that left me steaming.
Someone I met – let’s call him Bob – showed me a resume prepared by a $2000 resume service that promised all kinds of things – including a unique knowledge of the job search market and computerized algorithms that help mine for data in ways that make sure your resume gets maximal keyword action. Blah blah blah. (And I have no doubt it does at least some of that.)
So what’s the real problem with Bob’s resume?
This scientifically-prepared professional bells & whistles “state-of-the-art” resume that carefully incorporated lots of targeted key phrases was actually boring and gave no clear strong picture of Bob or his brand. And even more galling…it gave Bob a fairly generic job objective (arguably not even appropriate at his level) for a position he doesn’t actually want. The “expert” assured Bob this approach was a smart way to get his resume seen by more people.
Yup. It might indeed do that. But it isn’t getting Bob to the jobs he wants. And most likely it’s showing up inappropriately in searches looking for the job objective he isn’t especially qualified for. A very bad way to tackle any job market – but especially this one.
Now Bob is an extremely bright, personable, talented man with great credentials. Because his particular niche industry doesn’t have all that many jobs available any more, he was looking to create a resume to emphasize his transferable skills and aim him in a slightly different direction. Exactly when a good resume professional can work his or her magic.
But let’s also remember that the job search process overwhelms even the best of us. And after many months of not getting any responses to his original resume (as well as various variations), Bob was more than ready to listen to an “expert”. Unfortunately this person he trusted left him with what to me looks like one page of generic garbage. (Pronounce the last word with a French accent since it cost so much.)
A good resume needs to sell you and your brand
…and not just be designed to get selected by a machine. Of course keywords and phrases are important (and I recommend incorporating them into your resume), but in no way are they more important than a resume that clearly tells someone who you are and what makes you so special. And the really sad part of this is that Bob has a very exciting background that, if presented correctly, will catch a screener’s eye – and with the right resume framing it, he will get good interviews.
And let’s not forget that networking – especially for someone like Bob with lots of experience – is still his most important job search tool. And if you meet Bob, who is dynamic and personable, and then see this $2000 resume, you might think twice about someone who thinks this piece of garBAGE is their strongest marketing tool.
OK. Vent almost done. Mostly I just want to say how sorry I am that these kinds of services exist. And I feel for all of you going through this often confounding and at times infuriating process. Bob is ready to throw up his hands at this point since he doesn’t know whom to trust. All he wants is a decent resume that represents him well, but he feels so confused at this point he doesn’t know where to turn.
As far as I’m concerned, you’d be better off going to a free resume sample site and creating your own resume than paying a service like this. I doubt you would homogenize the picture of your own life the way this professional service did!
But because there are good services and because at times we really do need professional support, I put together a resource page I hope will help
Also on the resource page, I talk a little about some of the things you can do to help find a good professional. And, while I prefer not to specifically recommend any one service, along with the names of resume writers and career coaches, I include the caveat that you need to arm yourself with knowledge beforehand and probably interview several people – trusting your gut in the end so as not to be snowed by le crappe.
Of course, there’s no guarantee. Even with professionals who are good at their job, not every one will be right for you every time. If it really isn’t working out (after you’ve made several efforts to communicate your needs), you need to tell them and move on. And in the case of Bob, I strongly recommend he go back and tell them he wants his money back or at least a much better resume that doesn’t paint him into a corner of (admittedly nicely-formatted) mediocrity. He deserves so much better. So do you!
So what do you think Bob (or anyone) should do next time to make sure he finds a professional that truly has his best interests at heart? I’d love to hear stories as well as tips from resume professionals and job seekers!