I founded Top Margin in 1990, so I have had a whopping three decades to observe job seekers repeatedly making the same blunders. I’ve seen how resumes have evolved but how the advice friends, family, and, ahem, some job search specialists provide to job-seekers hasn’t changed a bit.
Here are just two examples of what I’ve observed that don’t match up with the reality.
Your friend says resumes need to be one page only. In reality, that’s great if you have either:
- no experience (someone who has just left school) or…
- you are a globally recognized expert who is so celebrated that the mere mention of your name causes excitement in your industry; or…
- if you have an accomplishment-filled background and secure the services of an imaginative, highly competent writer who can somehow condense an entire career into a page and make it sound like a powerhouse; or
- if the decison-maker has all the time in the world to interview volumes of people who don’t sound great.
Now, in my experience, truly great writers are uncommon, and the odds are, you as an amateur resume writer (and full-time whatever you are), are unlikely to come close to the power and imagination to communicate your entire career in restricted space. An interview is a time-consuming process, and a busy decision maker would rather learn about you from your resume than take the effort to set up a meeting. Verdict: Safe to conclude that piece of advice is out of date, overly idealistic, and not suitable for everyone.
Your friend says you need to show your personality in your resume by saying that you are punctual, reliable, a quick learner, a people-person, and loyal. In reality, if you write all these things…
- you will sound like a puppy
- you will sound like a walking cliché (doesn’t everyone say these things?)
- you could sound as if you’re self-aggrandizing by giving yourself a good old pat on the back
- you may miss the mark of the job you’re seeking entirely—what if they’re after a go-getter, merciless at stealing clients from a competitor? or someone who exudes spontaneity, agility, and ruthlessness?
Of course, you should put your own stamp on your resume. Professional resume writers tailor your list of achievements to highlight your unique abilities and experiences in the workplace. So, you’re not simply mouthing these platitudes; you’re showing them in action.
Friends can be extremely helpful during the job search process since they are sympathetic, encouraging, and understanding. It’s essential to let your friends cheer you on and offer words of encouragement, but seek out expert guidance when it comes to your resume.