When Friends Critique Your Resume…

Julie Walraven is a friend and professional resume writer. On Facebook she wrote:

“Just wrote this note to one of my top level resume clients who is getting too much advice from the wrong people – ‘I just have seen this happen too many times when well meaning friends try to tell you how to “fix” your resume even after it is professionally written.’

Julie wrote more, which is at the end of this blog post (it is advice on how to move forward in your job search, if things aren’t going well).  But I don’t want to focus on that… I want to focus on what she wrote above.  Specifically, the idea of trusted people reviewing your resume.

When I was in my Job search, I put a resume together and sent it to family and friends, with the hope that (a) they might catch any errors I missed, and perhaps (b) know of leads they could turn me on to. If they saw how awesome my resume was, they would surely recommend me… right?

My friends and family all had the same feedback: The resume was awesome, and I would be hired in no time.

The problem was, I was not hired in no time. I started my search in January, and officially gave it up that September.

Why the discrepancy between “you’ll be hired in no time” and “you are the worst job seeker ever?”  If my resume was good enough to impress them, why wasn’t any hiring manager impressed? Why was I not getting networking introductions?  They told me my resume was awesome… so what was the problem?

The problem with my approach was that the people I was asking were NOT qualified to give me real advice on my resume. They were not trained in resume writing, resume critiquing, or current job search techniques. The people who told me my resume was awesome had not done a job search in many years, and in some cases, decades. What I found was that some read for typos while others read for titles.  No one read asking “what is the purpose of this resume and how will it be used?”  Seems like a silly question, right?  It wasn’t. It was the unasked question that led to a very long, depressing job search.

The problem with my resume, which might NOT be the problem with your resume, is a problem that a trained eye, like Julie or the hundreds of other qualified resume writers, should have spotted.  That is, my resume was an honest resume, listing all of my jobs I’ve had. The last titles were, in this order: General Manager, VP/CIO, General Manager, and then Programmer.  Pretty cool, huh?  Helped with my ego… but the problem was that the titles I was applying for were business analyst, project manager, and product manager. So when I applied for a project manager job, they would look at it and say “why is this GM/VP/CIO applying for a job that is below them???”  There was a significant mismatch between what my resume said I was and what I was applying for.  Again, I’m not saying this is your problem, I’m just saying that a person trained in this would have helped me figure that out.  I’m no dummy (I guess that is debatable), but I was doing so many things, including managing the wacky job search emotions, that this issue eluded me.

Do you have to get a resume professionally written? NO. Do you have to pay the big bucks to hire someone who has years and even decades of experience helping job seekers? NO, you don’t have to. If you can, find the right person and engage with them. They might help you shave days, weeks, even months from a job search. But that is not the point of this post.  The point is to be careful what advice and feedback you get from your friends and family on your resume.  It will always come with good intentions. But it might not be right, accurate, or good.

Furthermore, my resume wasn’t necessarily The Thing holding me back in my job search.  It was more complex than that…. it had to do with my networking, my communication, my branding, and just my daily tactics and strategies.  But for sure my resume had a part to play in my job search failure.

Here is the rest of Julie’s facebook post, which is advice for a successful job search:

“When you aren’t getting enough traction in a job search, there are multiple variables. The most common one is that you aren’t being proactive enough in using your network or finding new connections to get you to your goal.

Self confidence is another big player because if you have not been on the job market for a long time, it is scary to be out there. You just have to become the sales person representing you.

Work hard, connect and reach out. It takes time, especially if you are in the upper salary level.”

Julie actually wrote her own blog post, seeded by the Facebook conversation we had on this very topic. Read it here: What Happens When Friends Critique Your Resume.

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