The Resume Experiment (5 of 5) – The Wrap Up

I’m trying to figure out how to wrap something like this up! I feel there are so many things that are either unsaid or ignored since we are focusing on one tiny little aspect of career management. So I’ll include some brief thoughts here and then see where the comments go.

Formatting is important. But don’t waste a ton of time on getting it “just right.” I see that Carl and Louise agree that formatting is not the silver bullet. And my previous comment was, just make sure that it isn’t a distraction. Dan Johnson wrote to me yesterday: I think so highly of my finished work – my resume – and often fail to think of it from a recruiter’s perspective.

Content is critical. How do you wordsmith your resume just right so that it gets the point across in just a few seconds? Most people think they are either (a) really good at describing themselves and their acheivements, or (b) not into the self-promotion fluff stuff.

First impressions are unavoidable. Play by “the rules.” Or don’t. I didn’t… and I didn’t get the interviews I needed! So because I chose to not learn what I should have I sacrificed weeks months of income. And the stress built. And the self-doubt built. And the discouragement built.

Should you get a resume writer? Obviously it depends on your personal situation. If I could turn back time I would have engaged a writer right away. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

In all fairness, the responses from the resume experts were based on bare-bones information. In fact, I had one reply back and say that she couldn’t even respond without having an interview with John Doe! And Louise Kursmark sent me a worksheet for John Doe to fill out, which she would follow up with a consultation. Note that the process involved is deeper than pulling out a list of action words and then going to town:

Barbara Safani - Career SolversBarbara Safani – priceless from her most recent post: If you would like to have your own resume critiqued, without having the content on full view to everyone, email me for a free resume assessment (my style is much more like Paula Abdul and I will tell you what is working in your current resume as well as what can be improved).

Most people don’t understand the value of hiring a writer… many think that all the writer does is edit the document, fix the grammar, and make it look pretty. Having the recruiter’s “seal of approval” will bring credibility to the writer’s strategy. But if you have 5 different resumes for the same person and 5 different recruiters reviewing them, you might get 6 different opinions…This is the fuzziness of resume writing and this is where things might get confusing. Your readers will be left asking…so which way is “right”…the better message is that there’s no right on wrong way per say, but there are different strategies job seekers can use to gain the attention of the hiring manager.

Brad Attig - My Retail CareerBrad Attig

I’m going to try to help you cut though all the fog and give you some guidelines that I would recommend you consider. Remember that every time someone tells you to turn right, someone else will be there to tell you to turn left, or worse, stop, go, backup…..

Wendy Terwelp - Opportunity KnocksWendy Terwelp

Writing a resume is more than filling in blanks on a template. The way I write a resume includes an in-depth interview (a minimum of 60 minutes) with the job seeker, a prep guide, then the rewrite (or completely new from scratch) with usually 2 drafts. Our process for resume development and strategy takes many hours to produce. We don’t just “type up a resume” based on the original as often the original document is missing tons of information. That’s why the interview process with the job seeker is crucial. We help candidates see their rock star qualities, what they bring to the table for a potential employer by asking lots of questions. Why? A résumé’s first goal is to help a candidate get in the door for an interview. As a former recruiter and current member of staffing associations, I know what employers look for in top candidates – and I know how to interview a candidate to get the achievements, skills, and qualities necessary for a great resume. Templates just don’t cut it.

Executive Career Coach, Personal Branding expert - Deb DibDeb Dib

Thing is, it is so NOT about the resume. The resume is the least important deliverable you get with a great resume pro. But it’s the only tangible you get, and it’s the only thing most people know.

What Deb? The resume is not what its about? I can’t find a reference to this (I saw it sometime this week) but I read somewhere about the value of your resume writer (go ahead and disagree). The value is in the process. The value is in what you learn about yourself – as you go through the process you will be more prepared for the interview. You will be able to sum up your skills better. You’ll realize you thought things are important but really aren’t – and shouldn’t be a focus in your interview. The resume creation process could be – should be – a therapeutic process that gives you much more value than the written document.

What if you want to do it yourself? No problem – do it yourself. There are lots of resources to help. If you don’t get the results you need with your resume then prepare to spend time figuring out why. And make sure to ask “where does a resume fits into my job search?”

I asked John Doe yesterday how he thought the Experiment was going. He replied:

It’s been interesting. The feedback is welcomed. However, I get a feeling that a lot of the resume writers are giving some pretty standard feedback. It definitely seems “templated.”

I told him I’d respond on the blog today, and after sleeping on it here’s my response.

It does seem templated. Its all stuff you can get out of books, from blogs, from the CareerHub eBook. Its all stuff that we hear time and again. realizing that they didn’t really get a chance (or have time) to do in-depth interviews and the normal exercises that they do with their clients, this is what I expected. Notice that thier responses are consistent. And they generally agree with “the customer” – the person who gets the resume – the recruiters (and Pete Johnson, who is a hiring manager of techies (he commented on the formatting post)).

The funny thing about principles is they always seem like common sense. Like templated, canned answers. But they are true, and violating them will have adverse results.

And… if the results do seem templated, and they are common sense, then why do people continue to violate the basics? The principles?

Good resume writers are experts – they know the tricks, the pitfalls, the lingo, what’s effective and what’s not. I won’t do my kitchen sink plumbing (lots of DIY books on that), I won’t cut my own hair (many people do)… I’ll leave that to the experts. Calling in a resume expert, in my opinion, is worth the money.

A huge thanks to John Doe for allowing these people to give feedback on his resume.

A HUGE thanks to those that commented to challenge ideas, or ask for clarification. The beauty of a blog is that its a discussion, and you have added to the discussion in a meaningful way.

A HUGER thanks for the experts that participated, the time they spent on their original input and the comments they left throughout the week.

Carl Chapman - Executive Restaurant Recruiter Daniel Sweet - Recruiter and author of Levy - recruiter and sourcing expert, consultantAlison Doyle - Job Search expert on About.comBarbara Safani - Expert resume writer and executive career coachBillie Sucher - resume expert, career coach, consultantBrad Attig - recruiter-turned career coach, resume expertDeb Dib - executive career coach and resume expertLiz Handlin - career coach, resume expert, and VP of marketing of BroadpeakLouise Kursmark - expert resume writerWendy Terwelp - Opportunity Knocks

Hopefully this was a meaningful experiment for you, that it helps you now or in the future. Feel free to pass this along to anyone that may be struggling with a job search, underemployment or whatever.

What is JibberJobber? Sponsored by JibberJobber – what’s this about? Click here!


The Resume Experiment Series

Post IIntroduction
Post IIFirst Impressions/Reactions
Post IIIFormatting
Post IVContent
Post V – Wrap-Up (that’s today folks)

13 thoughts on “The Resume Experiment (5 of 5) – The Wrap Up”

  1. Jason, it is a difficult task to wrap something like this up. The best wrap up that I can imagine, would be John smith (or John Doe if you prefer) taking our collective advice and redoing his resume, then sending it to you for posting after he got a great new job.

  2. I have to agree with Deb’s post on Part 5 of The Resume Experiment. Some people think the resume alone will define the success of their job search campaign. But people generally do not get interviews by just submitting a resume. Just look at the abysmal response rates candidates encounter when they use the job boards. Job seekers are more likely to get interviews when they build a relationship and leverage that relationship with a compelling resume that clearly communicates their accomplishments and value add.

  3. I definitely agree that it’s all about the process. The actual piece of paper (or Word file as the case may be) is the most tangible part of the process, as has been pointed out in the main article above. You find out about what kinds of things are important to you in a job and get to reflect on your prior job experience as you are finding your next one.

    That’s among the reasons I advocate writing your own resume as opposed to using a writer. It sounds like from the comments above that some writers make you go through the all-important soul searching process prior to the writing, but that is unfortunately not true of all of them.

    The cruel irony to me is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder here. That “customer” that Jason references above (thanks for the plug, btw, although I cringed at being called “a manager”) has different things that are important to him or her as part of the screening process and you don’t find out what that is until you make it to the next step or not. My advice there is to think about what you’d like to see in a resume from someone applying for a particular job and go from there. Jason’s right, the actual piece of paper isn’t intended for you (the process is), it’s intended for the person doing the hiring.


    ps: I think a follow up series on interviews would be great. I have my own opinions on what constitutes best practices for different forms of techie interviews (, but a similar panel discussion on that topic would provide a lot of different opportunities for opinions the way this one did on resumes.

  4. Jason,

    Has John Doe directly contacted any one here to help him go to the next step of the experiment? As far as I’m concerned, all we’ve done is help him apply for grant money; it’s time for him to actually conduct the experiment. John, you’re free to call me at 203-216-6226 – I’ll show you how a template can be augmented to satisfy both the hiring manager (don’t for a second think you have to satisfy the recruiting contact) and the owner.

    JD, you’re call.

  5. Was the final result ever published, with all the suggested changes? We’ve seen the before, we’ve seen the comments. Now we need to see the result.

  6. Mark, good question, maybe that has been the thing nagging at me saying “this series isn’t finished yet!” You can sift through the series and find that Carl Chapman rewrote it, and I think a couple others rewrote. The problem is that we had to strip out some confidential things, so rewriting wouldn’t have the impact/punch that it should… it would have some weird holes.

    You can reach out to any of the people that participated, though, and ask them for help/advice for your particular situation. What I wanted to do was pick through the various components of the resume writing process… next time I’ll be sure to include the final product.

  7. Instead of pulling out confidential info, could you instead change those to XYZ-type words?

    For example, company names, client names, firm locations, website links (and obviously disable them as links and make sure they don’t go to … unfortunate sites!!).

    If descriptive info like “#3 firm in ____ industry by sales”, change the industry name to XYZ.

    Then you should still be able to see the punch and details without giving away the farm.

  8. It’s not about templates and it surely is not about padding your resume to get the right job. All it requires is representation of information, provided which is honest and meaningful to the employer. The desired format or resume style is distinct to most career fields and job markets around the world. It may be advisable in some cases to refer to professional advise when starting afresh or even making career changes.

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