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Resume Critiques: Canned or Authentic?

This post was written by my resume writer, Darlene Craven. She’s been writing for years and has an interesting perspective on the subject of resumes. There is one important thing to remember though; A great resume is necessary in your search, but it is useless if you’re not clear on what you’re looking for, how to find it, how to navigate companies, interview skills, and negotiations, among other things.
Are they really FREE?????

I’ve been seeing a lot of ballyhoo and hubbub on the Internet about the evils of resume critiques lately. It got me thinking, as a professional resume writer, are these critiques truly canned, as most people complain, or are they authentic? Most critiques are viewed as ranging from offensive, to mildly annoying, to downright inaccurate. Granted, as a job seeker, you’ve been overwhelmed by the flood of information, good and bad, about job search. How do you really know what’s “true”? (We’ll address this question in another post soon.)
If you’ve done your due diligence you know 1) a resume won’t get you a job; it will only open the door to a possible interview, 2) it shouldn’t slay your reader in a hail of bullet points, and 3) and most importantly, it should highlight WHAT YOU’VE DONE and who you are; It should answer the “so what” by using action verbs, keywords, and concise specifics.

There – that’s a resume critique right there. If your resume doesn’t contain all the three above elements, get a book on resume writing or invest in your career by retaining a professional resume writer. I’m one of those people at a keyboard, producing resumes for a writing service that sends out alleged “canned” critiques. I even got the critique about my resume and I thought it was pretty funny. But I did take some the advice to heart and applied suggested changes to my resume.

I’ll tell you this –every single resume I’ve been assigned to overhaul has needed massive revamping, supplementing, and rewriting. So there! The clients who took the critique to heart, canned or not, got a resume that reflected them and their careers individually. They received a customized product that showed achievements, not just responsibilities, with a variety of action verbs in a format that was easy to read, with a summary and a branding statement.

So who is qualified to critique a resume? Is your neighbor who’s been an executive assistant for 20 years going to tell you what missing? Can your aunt the English teacher tell you about keywords? Can your brother the salesman figure out there’s no quantification/metrics/achievements to your career highlights? Not likely, unless they have some knowledge or expertise in resume writing and have kept up with the trends over the past 5 years.

Many professional resume writers use many ways to tell you what doesn’t work about your resume. If the critique seems canned, it’s because MOST resumes contain the same inherent mistakes, for example:

*No achievements or metrics.

*An objective instead of a branding statement.

*Use of the pronoun “I.”

*Highly irrelevant information.

*Unorganized format.

*Lots of “responsible for” duties and no “saved company 25% by realigning staff” achievements.

The list goes on ad nauseum. Some of the “canned critique” complainers resented being sold to instead of being given a critique that showed them what they were missing. Hellooooo – it’s a business so if you sign up for something “free,” expect to be pitched. If you truly want a free resume critique without strings, go to a job fair, stand in line to have an expert look at it, and expect to be told the same thing that the canned critique stated.

As a job seeker, do what you can to make your resume show your story…the critique is meant as a starting point to realign your thinking and writing into a document that stands out. And think seriously about making a choice to invest in your career. A professionally written document is no panacea. It is but one piece of the pie (the pie being a comprehensive career solution) that reflects that you’re committed to building a stellar career, not just looking for a job.

Creator and Host,

Carol Schultz

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