When advice can be too much: The Great Resume Truth

Advice: It’s not always right, it’s not always good, and it may or may not work for you.

Steve put the finishing touches to his resume last week and boy, was he proud of it. He showed it to Ralph, one of his good buddies and General Manager of Acme Corporation. Steve called Ralph a couple of days later; essentially to network of course—-but he used the resume as his icebreaker. “So, what did he think?”

“It’s pretty good” agreed Ralph, “But… I think you need to include some of those projects you did with Idol Inc., back in the day. They were pretty important and I think having that experience with DOS and Windows for Workgroups is something that would allow employers to know that you have experience that goes back to the early days”.

Steve was disappointed that he didn’t get the glowing praise he felt his resume deserved, but appreciative. He respects Ralph and although his ideas are a little at odds with what Steve has heard about listing outdated technologies and making a resume too long with old information, he knows that Ralph is a General Manager, so he must have insight. Steve fires up the laptop and adds some projects from the early eighties and briefly includes his pioneering work with DOS and Windows 3.1.

Next on Steve’s to do list is to call Sandra. Sandra is a System Administrator and she works for HCM, a leading technology company where Steve is keen to get a foot in the door. Sandra agrees for Steve to send his resume to her, and again Steve calls her a few days later to follow up. Sandra is sorry but she’s checked around with people “in the know” and it doesn’t seem like anything is coming up that would suit Steve’s skills at HCM any time soon. Sandra really wants to help Steve. He’s such a nice guy and she has worked with him before. The conversation is ending a little awkwardly until Steve asks whether she thinks the resume would be well-received at HCM. Well! This is something with which Sandra can help and she takes her time pointing out items that HCM look for in their employees. For instance, she knows that HCM loves employees that are enthusiastic and motivated, so Steve should include that, as well as being well organised, a team player and a good communicator.

Following the call Steve again fires up the laptop and spends some time looking at his resume. He’s reluctant to make Sandra’s recommended changes because he’s read books and articles all over the internet that say how cliche they sound. Plus, he has real examples of those particular skills many times over in his document. He’s always been told that it’s better to show “how” rather than just state a fact without proof. But, he sighs, he does want to work for HCM and it makes sense to follow Sandra’s advice. Steve adds the extra bullet points and saves the resume version 4. He shrugs, he’s getting somewhat tired of all this advice. He just wants a job.

Today is a new day but Steve has failed to shrug off the dark mood that followed Sandra’s call yesterday. He has John, the CIO and friend to call today and Betty a former colleague and now IT Manager. Frustratingly, neither know of any jobs but they too can offer advice. John tells him that those cliches on his resume are dumb. Betty suggests that old information such as AS400 and DOS and information going back to the ’80s is madness as it just makes him sound as old as Methuselah in technology terms.

Now thoroughly confused and dejected, Steve sits head in hands at his laptop resisting the urge to throw it out the window. All he needs is the one perfect document that will make everyone happy and he can get that job! He knows it!

STOP!

The fact is everyone has different opinions on what constitutes “good” or “right” and that doesn’t start and stop at resumes. It can cover works of art, books, religion, freeways, politics, architecture, movies—-in fact ask anyone’s opinion about anything and you’ll receive a multitude of them.

And….they’re not always right and they’re not always good, and they may or may not work for you.

One thing is for certain, listening and actioning them all is the definition of insanity. Changing the resume because Ralph is a General Manager is no more valid than changing it because Val is the tea lady. Sure, he has his own opinions about what he’d like to see if he was viewing the resume. The likelihood though is the HR department will receive it first or the recruiting agency and again, in all likelihood, it is the department head or team leader who will be interviewing and making decisions. Ralph’s opinion (like Sandra, John and Betty) is a personal opinion. It’s not The Great Resume Truth.

Steve needs to do three things.

  • Trust himself (or the professional who wrote his resume) that his presentation is the best it can be.
  • Heed only the advice of career professionals such as recruiters who can advance his candidacy to the next level for a real job currently in motion if he tweaks his resume as a “once only” document to match the client requirements.
  • Develop a new “icebreaker” in networking conversations! Instead of asking for an opinion on his resume (which we have now learned are in abundance, usually contradictory and overall not that helpful), Steve would be better placed developing a list of questions such as “Have you heard anything on the grapevine?”, or “How is that project going with Brown Corp? I heard it was in trouble” and a range of questions to elicit information with which that he can move forward—instead of constantly revamping his resume on the theoretical personal whims of people for jobs that don’t exist.

Sometimes too much advice, is just too much.

49 Comments

  1. Dawn Bugni

    RT @GayleHoward: @dawnbugni Thank you for commenting on my blog article! <– My pleasure. Great information. http://is.gd/ejh7e

    Reply
  2. Dawn Bugni

    RT @GayleHoward: @dawnbugni Thank you for commenting on my blog article! <– My pleasure. Great information. http://is.gd/ejh7e

    Reply
  3. Dawn Bugni

    Gayle –

    AMEN and AMEN again! I have found, when someone asks for an opinion on their resume, the person being asked almost feels obligated to find something “wrong” with the presentation. Usually the advice offered is out-dated, personal preference with no foundation in best resume writing practices or just plain wrong — like adding fluff adjectives with no substance. What is a multitasking people person anyway???

    If the job seeker is doing it himself, and has done due diligence in researching current trends, then they should stick with their gut. Or at least ask the people giving advice when’s the last time they read a career-based blog post or article and what’s the copyright date on the last resume book they read.

    If they take it a step further and work with a professional, then research that pro’s credentials before engaging and then TRUST they are immersed in career field and savvy regarding current trends. Then, if outside advice raises questions, discuss it with the person in the know.

    As you said at the beginning of this post, advice is not always right or good. Excellent insights. But I always get that when I come visit. 🙂

    Reply
  4. JulieWalraven

    RT @dawnbugni: RT @GayleHoward: @dawnbugni Thank you for commenting on my blog article! <– My pleasure. Great information. http://is.gd/ejh7e

    Reply
  5. JulieWalraven

    RT @dawnbugni: RT @GayleHoward: @dawnbugni Thank you for commenting on my blog article! <– My pleasure. Great information. http://is.gd/ejh7e

    Reply
  6. Karen Bice

    I can relate to this posting. Sometimes you get so much advice, you can either get really depressed about it, or make a decision to not be impulsive and do what so many others suggest. In the current job market, it’s hard enough to stay positive without getting wound up by all the information that is now available through the internet.

    Reply
  7. benthomas48

    RT @GayleHoward: #Jobseekers You just can't listen to everyone with an opinion. Ppl you respect aren't always right http://bit.ly/biDv4e

    Reply
  8. JacPoindexter

    EXCELLENT Post on Why 2nd Opinions on Your Professionally Written Resume Are JUST That … Opinions: http://bit.ly/biDv4e, by @GayleHoward

    Reply
  9. Job Coach

    RT @eExecutives: EXCELLENT post by @GayleHoward on why not to take every opinion on your resume to heart! ~ http://bit.ly/biKNCh

    Reply
  10. Maureen McCann

    RT @ValueIntoWords: Why 2nd Opinions on Your Professionally Written Resume Are JUST That … Opinions: http://bit.ly/biDv4e, by @GayleHoward

    Reply
  11. Hash

    Good write-up! RT @GayleHoward: You just can't listen to everyone with an opinion. Ppl you respect aren't always right http://bit.ly/biDv4e

    Reply
  12. cloudyyo

    Well said.  Tell me about it….

    Reply

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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.