Resume Massacre, Job Search Advice, Ignore

I read a really interesting post yesterday that evoked a number of thoughts/emotions.  Pretty ranty today :p

Kimba Green is a project manager who is in transition.  She writes that 8 months into her job search she…

had the good fortune to be “made over” by some of the leading experts. I was over the moon!

The makeover, however, wasn’t a makeover, it was a critique.  You can read her reaction and thoughts on her post: I survived a resume massacre!

I’m reminded by a friend who went to a job interview and came out completely deflated.  The fourth-generation owner of the company lectured, insulted and bullied my buddy to the point where he questioned his ability to do anything.

As a job seeker I’ve been in positions where people say things, give advice, give feedback, that is really quite hurtful.

Now, I haven’t listened to the resume critique show (you can hear it here), but I’m going to stick up for the critiquers for just a minute.  I’m asked all the time for advice.  For some reason, perhaps I just have no tact, I’m quite honest and direct with my advice.  Today’s post on my LinkedIn blog is a great chance for me to open-mouth-insert-foot and do this very thing.

I don’t do it to hurt, I do it to help.  But I don’t dance around the issue, especially since I’m usually not paid for the advice and I don’t want to spend an hour making sure you understand that you are okay.

Perhaps these critiquers  thought they had limited time (which they did) and wanted to be sure they communicated the problems with Kimba’s resume (as they saw them… which Kimba appropriately contends towards the bottom of her blog post).

Perhaps they understood their role differently than what Kimba understood (she thought she was getting a MAKEOVER, with SOLUTIONS, not just “here’s all the reasons why it sucks”).

Having said that, let me switch over to her side.

EIGHT MONTHS is a long time to go through a job search.  Mine didn’t last that long only because I gave up (and decided to do my own thing).  But the time I spent there SUCKED.  Getting rejections from temp HR employees making minimum wage was very discouraging.

And then, getting outdated, out-of-touch advice from neighbors, friends, family, people at church, and unfortunately, even volunteer staff at career centers and networking events, was very, very discouraging.

Reading those little “DO these Four Things Right Now and You’ll Land Your Dream Job” articles were a punch in the face. I envisioned some salaried person who had never been in a job search in their life writing that crappy fiction.  None of it applied to me but I saw it all over the main websites.

As job seekers we know that most of what we hear doesn’t apply to us (it didn’t to me).  Much of what is written is for the $11/hour worker… not to sound elitist but when you have to make $60k or $90k or $120k (for various reasons, including prior financial commitments), that low-level, common advice JUST DOESN’T WORK.

When a volunteer career center person gives me a list of job postings and says “here are some jobs to apply to,” without any regard to the age-old, principle-based concept of “go out and network,” I want to throw up.  Are they that out of touch with current job search tactics?

Job seekers think they are unique… some are.  Much of the advice doesn’t apply (much of the principle-based advice DOES apply!).

Don’t let it deflate you.  Don’t let the critiques wear you down.  Don’t let this stuff affect you to the point where you are “injured,” because that will have a negative impact on all that you do (from time management to networking and interviewing).  I wrote a popular post on this titled I Smell Blood!

Ignore much of the crappy advice.  Understand the principle-based advice.  And move on.  People are well-intentioned but might not have the best communication.

4 thoughts on “Resume Massacre, Job Search Advice, Ignore”

  1. I got a free (and very good) resume critique that basically pulled my resume apart. However, the critique was polite. And she was donating her time, which I appreciated.

    Rude job interviewers, otoh – I always think, if they treat their candidates like crud in the interview, how will they treat you once you get the job? I KNOW the economy is bad. I KNOW there are ten job seekers for every job. Employers are in the catbird seat. However, to me, that is no excuse not to be polite. Not warm and fuzzy, just polite. Kiss up, kick down does come back to bite you usually.

  2. Crystal, Love the “kiss up, kick down”! Very well put!

    Jason, What can I say but thank you. I was never completely sure on whether I should post my experience as I was getting into the right or wrong argument. End decision was it was my experience. It was neither right nor wrong, just mine. Thank you!

    Love the “I smell blood”!


  3. Hi, Jason,

    Giving advise, in any venue, is a tenuous situation at best. Even with the best of intentions, there is no way one can now how the receiver will react to the advice given. That reaction can be affected by any number of situations prior to the encounter with the “advice giver”, such as a headache, feeling depressed, a fight with a spouse, an unexpected bill in the mail, a sick child, a flat tire, and so on.

    I’m a skilled, certified resumes writer, and I volunteer to critique resumes. I do my best to offer helpful suggestions. I usually offer job search advice along with the critique. But I cannot control how the other person will respond or react. If it’s a negative reaction, that doesn’t stop me from offering help. I keep going.

    So, while someone may view the advice as right and other as wrong, it’s really NEITHER. It could be a matter of interpretation, a reaction based on circumstances at the moment, an opinion, or a function of the receiver’s expectations–either positive or negatively biased.



  4. Thanks for the email and the link to Kimba’s Blog.

    I respond to her blog as well, because I just had a similar experience.

    Earlier this week, I went to a Career Center just for a resume critique, not a criticism. The woman who critiqued it wanted me to find a job posting of the position that I want to apply for. I printed off a posting that I have applied to on the weekend.

    She criticized the job posting. And then she proceeded to look at my resume. She wanted me to put the company’s name on my Summary, wanted to delete all the periods at the end of all the bulleted points, said that I need to put past tense without mentioning where (But I did ask her), wanted me to put “sparkler” words (By the way, the position that I am looking for is Data Entry, there’s nothing sparkling about that position), change the format of my resume and use the Center’s format (Which is just fine the way that it is), and she wanted to change my email address. My email address has nothing offensive written on it. I started to calmly argue with her about it. She was still standing her ground and I almost laughed at her suggestions. I ended up walking out and only changing two of her suggestions.

    I don’t understand why she thought the way that she thought. I mean that taking out the periods out of every bulleted points would say to any employer that I have poor grammar. And I don’t want to constantly change my resume every time find an add for a Data Entry Position.

    I also should mention that I am going back to school, so I have decided to try the Career Center at the university that I will be attending in the fall. And by the way, I am looking for a Part Time Data Entry position.

    Let’s just say that I have just been to the most informative Career Center today. She did critiqued my resume to the point that I have to overhaul it. She did not say anything about my email address. She did change my summary (But it is still general) and she did even go into my LinkedIn account and told me that I need to be more focused in my summary statement there. She also did help me with the resume to the program that I am going into as well (Which is a work in progress). But I also got lots of information on how to do a better job search and networking from her.

    Now that is a better Resume Critiquer than the one that I have experienced at the beginning of the week.

    What do you all think?

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