Excuses I Hear For Poor Resumes

I encounter people each and every day who are looking to join the ranks of the employed. Most of them have poor resumes unfortunately, some resumes that aren’t too bad but could be improved and there are thank heavens, only a few who think resumes aren’t needed at all.

It’s interesting to me as I engage these people in discussions about their resumes, how quickly they are to shift the responsibility for its creation to someone else who made it for them, or how they immediately tell me how they’ve got conflicting advice on how to make one. I’m not surprised that getting conflicting advice would be frustrating; different people telling you how it should be laid out and the content arranged can be very annoying because we are used to doing things in our life in very right and wrong, proper and improper ways. So why should resume writing be any different?

So let’s look at some of the common excuses for having a poor resume. One has got to be that someone else made it for the person. My response to this statement is to ask the person to tell me the name at the top of the resume. When they tell me it is in fact their own name, then I tell them if they are going to distribute it anywhere, they have to take responsibility for everything below their name, no matter how it got there or who put it there.

Now the second most prevalent excuse I hear is when someone tells me that they had their resume done by someone at another agency. In other words, they’ve taken good advice and sought out someone they truly believed to be a resume writing professional. That much is good but at the same time they themselves have to take ownership of the document. So if there is a spelling error, something is wrong with the dates, or there are words on it that the person doesn’t even comprehend, it is critically important to stay seated in the chair while with the person creating it and read it slowly and carefully to pick up and change whatever is detected.

One rather poor excuse which outdoes the other two mentioned is the person who says they’ve heard from other people that all these professionals can’t agree on one way to make the perfect resume so they can’t be bothered even getting someone qualified to help them. The result of this is of course a resume that is extremely poor in the majority of cases and almost guaranteed to generate zero interviews.

Okay so although there are numerous reasons for having a poor resume, let me turn to giving you some advice on how to know you are in good hands with someone claiming to be a resume-writing professional. I hope this advice comes to you at a time when you are open-minded and willing to consider getting some help – especially if whatever you are currently using is generating little.

First of all whomever is going to help you should be willing to actually sit down with you rather than doing it in isolation and then handing it over to you. Of course there are situations where this isn’t possible, such as getting someone’s help who is in a different country etc. The advantage of sitting down with someone is that they can ask you questions as they proceed, not only about what you were responsible for, but what you accomplished. When someone is sitting beside me personally, often a discussion brings out information that should be on the resume but isn’t volunteered without some questioning and prodding. If in the case you can’t sit down side by side, you should be prepared to answer questions either through Skype, email, twitter etc. so things can be clarified. It also will help you to understand WHY they suggest whatever they do.

One sign you are with the wrong person in my opinion is the situation where the person offering to write it for you makes no inquiry as to the specific job you are applying for. If for example you were considering someone’s help and they said, “What are you applying for?”, and you answered, “A Youth Worker”, that shouldn’t be enough information for them. If they don’t ask you for the name of the organization and the job posting you want to apply to, you know right off the bat you are going to get a generic all-encompassing resume that’s bound to end up resulting in frustration. You should be asked and give the person a specific posting so the resume contents can be focused on the needs of that single employer. A Youth Worker may have very different requirements from one agency to another; and from one level (Senior Youth Worker) to another, (Entry-level Youth Worker). And let’s not forget one could be for a religious organization and another not just by way of example. Yes, all of this does matter.

There really are few excuses for having a poor resume. Like anything, some people are better at it than others. The real acid test for a winning resume is whether or not yours gets you seated in an interview for the job you apply to.

Oh and by the way, there are many people who charge for making resumes. Pay them if you want, but some of the best do it for free.


3 thoughts on “Excuses I Hear For Poor Resumes

    1. Hi Larry

      The problem with sharing an outstanding resume with you is a couple of things and I’m not avoiding the question. I don’t want to break someone’s confidentiality by sharing their resume minus the contact information lest someone recognize it as belonging to someone. I also believe that the tone of the words and how assertive or aggressive it is depends on the job being applied for and the character of the person for whom I’ve crafted it.

      So it might look way too aggressive in the language to you but be perfect for the job requirements and the personality of the person applying for example.

      However in an effort to help, I’ve just responded tonight to a woman who asked about my preference in format and wonder if this might do to answer your question. She was questioning the Functional vs. Chronological formats.

      And I am happy to answer your request Roberta. The method you cite which doesn’t make sense to you is the Functional style. This method is not the preferred method by the majority of employers. They want to see what skills you acquired and what you accomplished in each position. Listing jobs at the end makes this impossible and if you are doing you resume in a targeted way, it just doesn’t work.

      What I find works best is a targeted resume that combines the Chronological with the Functional style.

      Standard headings on a resume are up for debate but lets assume you go with something close to these:
      Employment Objective
      Work History
      Volunteer Experience

      I actually suggest these more often than not:

      Relevant Experience
      Additional Experience
      Professional Development/Education

      In the above, the profile is 2 or 3 sentences that punch out what unique value you present and how you brand yourself.

      The Qualifications section should mirror the job posting essentials, and the first few things in a job posting are the most critically important so they should likewise be the first few bullets in this section so you meet the obvious requirements.

      Relevant Experience opens up the ability for people who have various jobs and experiences paid and unpaid to list the things most relevant to the job they are applying to in chronological order IN THIS SECTION.

      The Additional Experience allows the same person to put work and volunteer experiences that may be less directly relevant in a section all their own – even when these things might be more recent. The affect? Employers see quickly that what you’ve done in the past is close to what they want and oh yes you’ve done other things too.

      The combination of Professional Development and Education section allows you to conceal ancient high school or College courses by being preceded by things more recent such as in-house training courses and accomplishments, member status in relevant social organizations etc.

      Now the critical thing to also note is that each and very bullet you use to detail what you have done or accomplished in a job should be under the specific heading AND MOST IMPORTANTLY RELATED DIRECTLY TO THE SKILLS AND TRANSFERABLE SKILLS YOU WILL NEED IN THE JOB YOU ARE APPLYING TO.

      If you just list what you did or were responsible for in a job, you miss the mark.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I also write resumes for a living and agree with a lot of the things you say here. One issue I see with a good number of clients is their unwillingness to recognize out-of-date styles or formats. I’ve had clients who insist on using generic objective statement (“looking for a position to best utilize my talents …”) or refuse to use bullet points. I once had someone tell me that since HR only takes a few minutes to look at their resume, typos and errors wouldn’t matter because they “wouldn’t be noticed.” And yes, even if you hire a professional to help put together your resume, you are ultimately responsible for its content! Thanks for the tips


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s