Resume Advice: Enough Already!

resume helpby Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

Resume advice. It’s everywhere lately. Honestly, there’s so much of it that a job seeker would have to work hard not to be bombarded by it. Do this. Don’t do that. Make sure you have this. Make sure you don’t have that.

Job Seekers Are Crying, “Uncle!”

Not only is the amount of advice overwhelming, but it is also often contradicting. I actually met a job seeker last week whose first comments to me were “please don’t give me anymore resume advice!”

I can’t say that I blame him. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a profession like ours where we try so hard to turn people into our equivalents. Do lawyers spout forth to you every aspect of the law when they work with you? Do accountants teach you every nuance in the tax code? No, they tell you what you need to know and they respond to your questions, but they don’t teach you how to be lawyers and accountants.

For some reason, us career pros seem to feel the need to turn everyone else into us.

And we seem to feel the need to do that in such a general way that we often put forth contradiction after contradiction. My job seeker from above was mostly frustrated that blog after blog relayed different advice on how long his resume should be, how the summary/profile section should be arranged, and how much to rely on bullet points. Each “career pro” who reviewed his resume had something different to say and, yes, often contradictory. Not only that, but recruiters said one thing, hiring managers said another, and resume writers still something else.

No wonder so many job seekers are skeptical about paying for resume services! We sound like we don’t know what we are talking about!

Give Them Some Relief

And they are walking away not appreciating us but holding firm to all these edicts (“resumes can ONLY be 1 page in length,” “resumes should ONLY use bullet points, “resumes should ONLY go back 10 years in work history) that sometimes may have to be adjusted to meet the specific needs of that client’s audience.

Instead of bogging job seekers down in the nitty gritty (and I am just as guilty as the next pro) of resume details and so-called “rules,” maybe we should take another approach and explain all the factors that go into developing a resume’s strategy, which then determines length, number of bullets, and so forth.

Hey, maybe we should actually market our “value,” which is not that we know how to arrange things on a piece of paper in a nice format, but that we actually know how to “brand” a client on to the audience he or she is trying to reach.

And maybe before we dole out advice on how the resume looks and whether they’ve met all of our edicts, we can remind clients that resume writing, like any form of marketing, is not an exact science, that you are playing an odds game that all depends on how well you can anticipate not just the needs of the reader(s) but his or her preferences as well.

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