In the June 8, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, I discussed a blog post by Jon Jacobs — Another View of Resume Critiques. Jacobs suggests that my column Free resume critiques: The new career-industry racket is over the top. I characterized the “resume experts” who review and analyze (for free) resumes submitted by sales prospects… as monkeys tapping on keyboards. He doesn’t really see a problem with resume-writing companies that lure customers with “free resume critiques” that appear to be based on crib sheets — boilerplate commentary that’s used again and again.
But Jacobs’ own readers torqued up the discussion in an unexpected direction. Commenting on two resume critiques he received, one reader said:
The following is what a consultant from TheLadders.com wrote me:
“These statements aren’t much too [sic] write home about because they list what you did—not what you achieved. It’s like me saying “I went for a run last weekend.” What I didn’t say would paint a whole new picture—that my “run” was actually a marathon and that I placed in the top 10 out of more than 300 runners, all while nursing a sprained ankle. See the difference? It’s all in the wording.”
Now here’s a preliminary review sent to me from a consultant at the GetInterviews.com:
“The statement above is very vague and simply does not paint a strong picture. It’s like me saying “I went for a run last weekend.” What I DIDN’T say would paint a whole new picture—that my “run” was actually a marathon and that I placed in the top ten out of more than 300 runners, all while nursing a sprained ankle. It’s all in the wording—see the difference?”
Between March 2009 (when Jacobs’ blog post was first published) and the present time, people have been posting the same cautionary comments. These recipients of “free resume critiques” are bugged about different (?) resume writing services that keep using that clever line, “I went for a run last weekend…”
Running with monkeys tapping on keyboards… I think my original take on resume-writing companies that offer this sales come-on was dead on. And I stand by it. If the company is using canned comments in the “free resume critique,” it’s a safe bet that the $495 resume it sells you was “built” using the same scraps of keywords, buzzwords, action verbs and phrases it’s selling everyone else.
What’s mystifying is how different resume-writing companies use the very same expresssions in their “free resume critiques!” (You figure that one out. I already know the secret.)
In the newsletter I pointed out that there are legit professional resume writers out there, and you’ll know them by the time they take to talk to you, interview you and produce a custom resume that reflects who you are. I also pointed out that I’m still not a fan of using a resume to introduce yourself to an employer, but if you’re going to do it, at least make a sincere effort to write your own resume. The learning lies in the doing. So do the hard work to write it.
Let’s hear your experiences with resume writing services — good or bad. (Resume writers are welcome to comment, but please — no advertising or sales pitches. If you’re going to post, please focus on the distinctions between pros and hacks.)
[Disclosure: The Jon Jacobs blog referred to in this column is part of eFinancialCareers.com, which regularly publishes Ask The Headhunter columns.]