Every day I am asked questions about resumes.
- Why can I not write it myself?
- How should they be formatted?
- How they should be written?
- How do you get through ATS programs?
- Should your photo be on it with all sorts of colors, text boxes and so on?
- Do I need a cover letter?
There are so many articles, opinions and perspectives out there today that can be misguiding and send you on a rollercoaster that leads to a dead end.
How can you trust one person’s expertise and opinion over the other? RESULTS!
Everyone wants to claim they know it all when it comes to writing a resume, but do their resumes produce results? Are these resumes getting to the top of the pile and getting you a callback?
I have many articles out there that can tell you ‘how to’ write your own resume, but it really isn’t as easy as it sounds. I would have to write a book and specify it to each individuals experience, goals, and industry to truly give you the knowledge you need to write your own resume. It is easier if I just do it for you!
This is why hiring a professional that understands what they are doing is so very important.
Time is money and money is time.
I will answer the above questions in brief and then conclude with the reason behind why hiring a professional to develop your resume vs utilizing the ‘free’ or ‘do-it-yourself’ method is truly the best choice when searching for your next position/career.
Why can I not write it myself?
Let me ask you a question? Do you make your own watch? If you did, would you make a Swiss or Rolex? The difference between writing your own resume and hiring a professional is simple. They are a professional at what they do. They understand the lifecycle of a job search. They understand the stress and anxiety you face. They understand recruiters, hiring managers, what businesses are looking for, what resumes need to showcase regarding your experience and potential, and finally how they should be formatted. They understand the depths and wording required to streamline a resume into a professional document that speaks volumes of you when you are not around to speak for yourself. Sure, you may know and understand what you have done for a living, but does that mean you know how to translate that in less than 60-seconds to the reader? A resume is for the reader, not yourself. It is hard to articulate on paper what you know, think and perceive of oneself. Though I am a resume writer, I would never write my own resume, for that very reason. I have always written a draft and handed it over to be edited and perfected by someone else. Perception is a game changer.
Time is also a huge factor is writing your own resume. Do you have the time and means to spend hours of research to write your own resume? Or hand it off to someone you think should know, like an opinionated CEO, and by the time your resume if looked over 4-times it has diluted who you truly are? I run across this all the time and it causes a lot of frustration. I once had a CEO and recruiter review a resume written by me. The candidate who submitted it was a rockstar. He also liked the beach and because of his honesty. Both the CEO and recruiter tore his resume apart. When they were done it diluted his amazing career and potential into nothing. Why did they do this? Because they felt he needed to be seeking a lower level position just because he was in search of that remote position allowing him to spend time at the beach. Instead of telling him how they felt they chose to dilute his value. I had to end up being the bad guy and share these facts with him. Now, he is a VP who works from his beach house home office. I understood what he was looking for and what he was capable of and though it took him some time to find it, he did. WE also had to discuss his approach when interviewing so he was portraying himself as the true rock star he was, rather than the perceived beach bum.
Your resume is the difference between a Swiss and a Rolex when it comes to job searching. I personally want the Rolex. Shouldn’t you?
How should they be formatted?
Formatting a resume can vary based on the level experience or industry you are in. The primary goal for all formats, however, is to sell yourself on paper in less than 60-seconds. Making sure you have proper margins, direct statements of fact showing size, scope, core-competencies, achievements, and skill sets. The reason many struggle with formatting is because they are unaware of the who, what, when, why, where policy that goes into formatting a resume based on someones specific career level/industry. You would be amazed, but this actually matters to HR. They know the difference when they come across their desk. They look at thousands of resumes a year and are looking for candidates who have taken the time to provide a quality resume they can read through and identify their experience quickly.
Understand, just because you submitted your resume, you know what you can do and your worth, but that does not mean you are portraying that to whomever’s desk your resume lands on. IF it doesn’t sell you in the first 20-seconds, it is likely you will be tossed out. The sad truth, sorry to say. Is this fair? Of course, it is fair. If we are not willing to do what we need to do to ensure we are portrayed accurately, why should we expect anyone else to spend more hours of their day and time trying to figure it all out for us? It is up to the person submitting the resume to be sure they are submitting what is needed to get the HRs attention.
How they should be written?
A resume should be written for the reader. There are two documents in life that work for you when you are not around, your resume and your life insurance policy. How can you expect HR to understand anything about your potential and experience if you have not articulated in a manner that gets directly to the point and shows the true scale of what you have done? When I say what you have done, this does not mean give the definition of your job title. They are looking for the nuts and bolts of what you did while in your last and current roles. I have seen a resume where people have given me definitions straight from Wikipedia. All this tells HR is you have no idea what you are doing, and what they have no idea what possible potential you may be able to bring to their company. I am quite confident you are able to explain it to them, but it must be done in a resume, not a wordy essay. As the saying goes, keep the emotion and opinions out of the message. This applies on a resume as well. You cannot wait for the interview to get the facts on paper. The resume goes before you. Make it work for you!
How do you get through ATS programs?
There is NO one ATS. Every company has their own way of dealing with incoming applicants. The key is making sure it is sent in word.doc, within the margins, and that you hit the check offs required for the position. If you do not qualify for the job due to lack of verbiage in your resume,
Your resume will not get you to the top of the pile. Not all job descriptions are going to showcase all a company is looking for in a candidate for the open position. However, if you know the industry, how to do the role in question and your resume is written correctly, the ATS will pick up on it. ATS is programmed by HR. They know what type of candidate they are looking for and therefore are looking for candidates who added these items within their resume. These are the ones that are seen by HR. Everyday people apply for jobs they are not qualified for. To avoid these types of things, ATS is programmed to weed out resumes that do not meet the standards of the position that is looking to be filled. Be sure not to use PDF. Not all ATS programs can pick up on PDF files and will leave out parts of your information that could be very important. Many think it is for protection to use PDF. HR is not looking to plagiarize your resume, think about it.
Should your photo be on it with all sorts of colors, text boxes and so on?
Do not put your photo on your resume, but do have a professional photo on your LinkedIn with a link to your LinkedIn on your resume.
Do not add color. Good ole fashion black and white is all you need. Text boxes mess with ATS programs and cannot accurately fill. Do not use them. Margins matter. 3-page resumes are not necessary. It simply means you couldn’t articulate in 2-pages and do not understand what leave omit or edit so that it fits. Do not dilute yourself with 1-page resumes when you have the experience to utilize two. I get asked this question all the time for someone who has worked for 20-years and every time I look at them and say, “Whoever told you that is an idiot.” One page resumes for someone who worked for 2-years mine as well be called a Profile Slick. It is simply impossible. I realize some people like using these for events, but an event has you in front of the people and still does not give your true value. These type of resumes are a brief timeline and should not be used in formal job applications.
Do I need a cover letter?
The only time I recommend a cover letter is if it is requested or if you are sending a resume directly to someone in an email. Other than that, they are pretty much outdated. Your LinkedIn has become your new cover letter. Believe me, all HRs use LinkedIn.
So why should you hire a professional to write your resume? Because you need a job! Delegation is a key competent here. Leadership and teamwork matter even during your job search process. Not just when you are in the job. I work with clients who want just a resume and then some all the way through their interviews until hired. Imagine the time you spent reading my article and times that by 100 or 1000. This is the amount of time you will spend trying to write your own. Do you have that kind of time in your life?
The top priority in my life in spending time with my family. If I have to spend countless hours doing research only in hopes I will get it right, when I could have made a called and had it done for me? That means something to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love research and do it quite often. However, I do it in a planned amount of time that doesn’t sacrifice otters important things and people in my life. Life is a balancing act and there are many things fighting for my time. I want to be sure I can give my best to all those moving parts so that one doesn’t fail in order for the other to succeed. Having a professionally developed resume not only saves me time to do things far more important to me, it also brings me comfort in knowing there is potential for two moving parts in my life to be successful without neglecting one of the others.
I will recommend, when you are searching for a resume writer, you should do your homework. Check their reviews on LinkedIn or Google. Though, I will admit sometimes Google does not remove false reviews. Ask around if you have connections in common. Ask the writer questions about their background and experience. Make sure they are the right person for you to hire. Not all resume writers are created equal nor do they understand your industry/job field/level experience.