Never, Ever Pay Someone To Write Your Resume

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

In my opinion as an IT recruiter with almost 15 years of experience, you should never pay anyone to write your resume (Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google agrees, in a recent blog). I suppose there could be some reason where it would make sense….but the vast majority of the time, don’t do it! You’d probably be better off buying lottery tickets. The Powerball jackpot is pretty high right now, I believe.

There are a few reasons why. Most people (in my experience) who pay someone to write their resume are unemployed and have been unemployed long enough to be getting desperate. Generally speaking, those folks probably have less disposable income than others and really shouldn’t spend it on a service they can easily get for free.

I’ve helped probably thousands of people with resumes in my career, and almost without fail, the ones that are the worst came from resume writing services. It’s not necessarily that the resume itself was THAT bad. It’s that the resumes from services are generally far out of touch with what hiring managers want to see.

What’s so wrong with these resumes, you may ask?

First, virtually all resumes from resume services tend to be in “functional” format. This is the format where all the candidate’s experiences are grouped under sub-headings at the top of the resume and their job history is listed out in one line entries below, with no mention of actual job duties at each position. IT hiring managers (at least the ones I’ve worked with) hate those kinds of resumes and I suspect many others in other industries do as well. Inevitably if we submit a functional resume, the manager asks us for a chronological version, one in which the candidate’s duties and experiences are listed (bullet points are best) under each job where they were performed. Managers want to see what you did at each job so they know when you last used a skill. A functional resume leads managers to believe that you may be trying to mask that you haven’t recently worked with the relevant skills for their position.

Image Credit: MyOptimalCareer

Image Credit: MyOptimalCareer

Second, and slightly related to the first point, the functional resumes often leave out the technical skills, accomplishments and quantifiable information that managers like to see. Hiring managers like numbers. They want to see the size of environment you worked in, how many people you managed, how large of a budget you managed, etc.

Third, I still see resumes from services where someone with 10+ years of experience has everything crammed onto one page. The days of one page resumes are dead and gone. They were dead and gone when Y2K came and went. Stop trying to get 15 years of experience onto one page. You’ll leave way too much out.

Fourth, and finally, as we’re all aware, many companies use online application systems where you have to manually enter your skills and jobs into the system (see my blog lamenting the loss of the human touch in hiring). I’ve yet to see one that is set up “functionally.” That is, one that would allow you to free-form enter all your skills at the top and then enter a bunch of one line entries for your employment history. More often, at least in the ones I’ve seen, they ask for your employer, title, date of employment and then have a text section when you enter what you did for that employer. If your resume is in functional format, you will have to basically reinvent your chronological resume when filling out that sort of application system.

So, for all of you who need help with your resume; what do you do? You need a good, solid chronological resume that can be easily manipulated for each job for which you apply. You want your core skills, main experiences and greatest accomplishments on there. Then, you want to be able to quickly add in relevant skills (no one can put everything they’ve ever done in a resume) each time you apply for a different job. Customize your skills summaries and emphasize the things that are most prominently mentioned in the job. Still struggling with it, or want some feedback? Find a few recruiters who specialize in your specific area (IT, finance & accounting, legal, etc.), form a relationship with some you trust and ask them for help. A good recruiter will help you craft a solid resume. If they blow you off, they’re not a good recruiter. They may not reply instantly that day, but good recruiters understand the value of making connections, and even if they can’t place you, recruiters with the long view will have no problem helping you out.

And it’ll be free.

Yes, you can email me, and I will help you with your resume. It’s what I do. 🙂

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