Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Job seekers: Select your paid resume writer carefully please!

Picture it...Melbourne, Fl 199something...I was young, dumb and full of money.  I decided that I hated my first post-college job (didn't we all back then?) because I had taken it believing that it was more than what it was. 

pic courtesy of Wikipedia

So, I decided that I would enlist the help of a Professional Resume Writer to help me spruce up my college-y resume.  $350 dollars later(which is $500 in today's dollars, thank you
I had a new resume and cover letter printed on terribly fancy paper (yes kids-we used to do that), an hour of job search coaching and the memory of an awkward and unsolicited conversation held in my Resume Writer's driveway about the state of her marriage.  While I could have lived without that conversation, the resume itself was a perfectly servicable resume that served me well enough for a couple of years. And while I still think that the price was highway robbery, I can still look back on it now and say it was a decent resume for the price.

Fast forward to today where it seems like everyone who ever got received an A in English is hanging out their shingle as a Resume Writer.  Now, don't get me wrong-there are some tremendous resume writers out there accessible through organizations like PARW and NRWA to name a few.  These are professionals who have invested time and money securing certifications to back up their extensive experience.

However, that also means that every knucklehead with time and money can also secure certifications to back up the knowledge that they don't know anything other than how to pass a certification exam. 

Why the vitriol from me...someone who doesn't even have this designation?  Well, I'll get to why I don't have the certification in a moment.  For me, this becomes a hot button issue when I see job seeker after job seeker who has paid a ton of money for a resume believing that it MUST be good simply because it came from one of these certified professionals never recognizing the fact that for someone who has never hired a soul, never recruited a body or never walked a human through job search....this is all just academic.  Is the grammar correct?  Sure.  Is the font recommended?  You betcha.  Are you going to look like an idiot for having it?  Not likely.  Is it going to be your silver bullet in job searching?  Probably not, but it would make your HS English Teacher really, really proud.  For me, I get really heated about these hacks (I said it-hacks!) who know nothing about job search but yet scam people anyway into paying them more money than they have to put out a document that isn't worth the fancy paper it's printed on.

Now, all of that being said-please believe that there are some tremendously excellent professional Resume Writers with certification out there.  I know quite a few of them and if having a certification is important to a job seeker, I can happily and safely refer people to these men and women all day without worry.  And me...why no certification?  Well, it's purely a personal choice.  My resumes aren't always perfect but that's probably because I write them with a recruiter's mind and if you know any recruiters, you know we aren't always perfect! My credentials are in the literally thousands upon thousands of people who I have screened, interviewed, hired, fired, coached or helped in the course of my career.  And my theory is that the resume that you write for a Hiring Manager and the resume that you write for your English is not always the same.

Perhaps you are out there looking on your own for someone to give your resume a little tweak or a massive overhaul, here are some things to consider:

1) Please think about how you are finding this resume writer.  Are you getting solicited off a job board either because it's part of the job board's service offering or because they found you on the job board?  If so, please take that advice with a grain of salt.  I remember a little experiment that I did with the approval of one of my job search clients and my husband who are in wildly different fields.  They both sent in their resumes to the resume writing service of a large job board.  Amazingly enough even though these resumes were vastly different in style, content and format, the feedback that they received was identical.  AND it could all be correct for the bargain basement price of $600.  This is not what good looks like folks.

2) Does this person have zero presence on the web?  If so, can you confidently say that they know how to help you navigate what a resume needs to look like to come out relatively unscathed from today's Applicant Tracking Systems?  You do know that it's not always coming out as pretty as you would like on the other end of the online application system, right?   I hate to use the term chop-o-matic, but in some cases, it fits.  Someone who has let technology pass them by may not be qualified to help you navigate the very technology laden job search market.

3) Ask for references or samples of work.  While a resume writer is going to be hesitant to give away work product, it's ok to see what this person might have to offer you before you cough up the money.  And of course, when in doubt...

4) Talk to your network-see who they have used.

Bottom line is this.  Do your research and make your choice wisely.  Certifications are great but they shouldn't disguise redflags.  Good luck and happy hunting!