This is the first in a series of 30 avoidable job-search goof blogs, announced on LinkedIn and here on my blog. I’ve observed these over and over again in my years as a Human Resources professional, and they are costing good—even great—applicants the opportunity to interview for a job. These are the kind of goofs that prevent applicants from getting a phone interview. They even can prevent their applications or resumes from being read at all. An HR manager can spot these and just quit reading any further. Or at all. All that work you put into applying for a job is wasted just because of a simple, avoidable goof.
Now, a lot of people don’t feel comfortable writing a resume. With so many do’s and don’ts, I’m not surprised. So, they consider hiring a professional resume writer to put a killer resume together. No problems with having to spell or construct a sentence yourself. Hire a professional ghost writer and your worries are over. Well, maybe or maybe not.
Professional resume writers can take your skills, experience and educational information and make you look like a superstar. They can take your information, format it in the latest and greatest style and turn your resume into an effective marketing piece (which is what it really is). They can make things flow; use the best words to highlight your accomplishments and strengths. They know how much to include and what to leave out. Find the right ghost writer, and they can jumpstart your job search and put your resume ahead of the rest. That’s a good thing.
Be careful. You don’t want your resume to sound like one of those 10-page direct marketing letters that sell vacation property in the Ozarks or a magazine subscription. After all, this is supposed to be you—the best you—on paper. You can sound too good to be true, and a hiring manager can spot a slick sales job a mile away. Here are some things to consider when deciding to hire a pro for your resume.
- A professional resume writer should be just that. Not someone who has a software program and is going to plug your info into a template. You could do that yourself and get the same results. They should spend some time interviewing you, getting to know you as a person—your goals, passions, values, etc. Resumes aren’t just facts. The real person behind the facts should come through.
- Resumes have to be authentic. Beware of a writer who is writing fiction rather than fact. There is an art to taking a body of information and presenting it in both a factual and compelling way. There are techniques to showcasing experience so it is impressive and provokes interest. I always tell my clients that everything in a resume has to be defendable. In other words, you should be able to discuss every piece of information comfortably and confidently. Don’t let a writer sell you on a phrase or statement that sounds better than the real thing. If a hiring manager even suspects the information on a resume is inflated your chances may be over.
- The resume should reflect your personality, not the writer’s. The language, phrasing and vocabulary should fit your conversational style. Everything on a resume is a talking point. A resume that sounds like a college professor or English scholar has to match up with the real-life applicant sitting across the desk. Even though it’s written by someone else, it should appear to be your handiwork.
- A professional resume writer will not be satisfied with the product until you are. Now, there’s a limit to revisions, but you’re the one who will sending out this resume to represent yourself. And paying the fee.
- A pro will give you multiple formats for your resume – Word, PFD and Plain Text. You should also have a downloadable version for online applications. Ask for the final product on a thumb drive or CD, too.
- Good resume writers are also coaches. After several sessions, either in person, Skype or phone, I get to know my clients, and often pick up on strengths or areas that could use some improvement for the critical interview meeting. There may also be things on the resume that could be sensitive and difficult to discuss. Gaps in employment. Frequent job changes. A shift away from your career path. Re-entering the workforce after an absence. A professional writer/coach can role play difficult conversations and suggest responses that will be both honest and demonstrate how you were able to turn adversity into a learning experience and growth.
Paying for a professionally written resume when you’re not getting a paycheck may seem like an unnecessary expense. A resume is, however, your first and best chance at getting the attention of a hiring manager, putting you at the top of the list (or at least in the running). It’s an investment that can pay off better than the stock market or lottery, paying dividends far into the future.
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