Writing a résumé would seem to be something most people should be able to do on their own; which is precisely why so many people often take to doing it themselves. I mean, it doesn’t seem overly complicated requiring the services of a professional. It’s just something that many people feel they have the skills to do; it is after all just words on paper, and who knows a person better than themselves?
And to be fair, when one professional can’t agree with another about what to add, what to leave off, the layout and the formatting, one’s left wondering if the one they’d make themselves might not just work as well. While the best advice I have to offer is to enlist the help of a professional who will work with you face-to-face, there will always be those who insist on doing it for themselves and saving time and money into the bargain. (What they believe is the case at any rate.)
Over the weekend I had some time and went looking online for the help of a résumé writing service, not because I would actually employ their services mind, but to see what was on offer. This is what I do in part for a living myself, but I thought it might be interesting to see what services are out there. I started looking on Kijiji; where I know some people begin their search for such help.
It didn’t take long actually. Here was an ad which seemed to say a lot of the right things. It promised quick results, whether a person wanted a résumé, a cover letter or both. It mentioned three times in the ad that the writers are all English; which immediately made me suspicious. It was just an odd thing to add in an ad that is written in English to begin with. As I read on, the choice of words started to fit together less and less appropriately. It started sounding more and more like the writer spoke and wrote English as their second language.
The ad advises people to send them a deposit to get started, plus their old resume or all the things they’ve done in the past if they don’t have one. Then the service will send them a picture of the completed resume, and once the balance is paid, the completed document(s) will be sent; satisfaction guaranteed. They claim to have, “lot of happiness from others.” See what I mean? One can just imagine an entire resume with this rather crude sentence structure. The price? $40 per resume.
I also went looking at a few job search websites; seeking jobs that I’m not qualified or interested in applying to personally. I wanted to see what guidelines or expectations employers had in the resumes they expected to receive. One ad asked for applicants to include their hobbies and interests outside of work; something typically left off resumes these days. Another ad instructed applicants to apply directly via LinkedIn; so without a profile on that platform, don’t bother to apply. A third ad requested that applicants should clearly state why they want the job they are applying to at the top of the résumé.
So the advice I give you is before submitting your résumé, read the ad wherever you find it and carefully look for anything specific the employer requests. Failing to add or drop things as the case may be, could end up terminating your chances of success before you even send your application. Of course there are other guidelines to look for; send an accompanying cover letter or don’t, include a job reference number if one is provided, and instructions on whether resumes can be faxed, emailed, hand-delivered or mailed. Does anyone actually mail resumes anymore?
Employer’s websites often give specific instructions on the right font style and size they expect, the size of paper, number of pages permitted and whether they want every job you’ve ever done or just the relevant bits. I imagine at least some of the people reading this piece are still mass producing their single resume and distributing it to many employers in the hope that something sticks. By the way, stop doing this; it’s annoying and it doesn’t work effectively most of the time. Or continue to do this as you wish; sure, you might get lucky.
The bottom line of my message is that before you start a résumé – whether you do it yourself or you enlist the help of someone else, read the post and see if the employer has left you some guidance with respect to their expectations. You would be wise to go and read the employers website too if they have one. A lot of the time you can find information on their submission guidelines there; it’s like a reward for those job seekers who bother to check out the employer and separates these from those who don’t see the value in doing so. Resumes that don’t follow the employer’s expectations may be immediately trashed because after all, if the applicant can’t be bothered to even check out the employer’s publicly posted webpage, how invested are they going to be doing work for the company when they don’t invest in doing work for themselves?
Go at this résumé thing any way you like of course; it’s your future after all. Please don’t think you get what you pay for; not in this case.