What Does Your Email Address Communicate?

One of the most fundamental things you’re going to do when looking for work is create an email address. One day in the future the email address will become antiquated and out of fashion; replaced by something more effective. Today however, it’s still highly used by many employer’s as a way to receive applications and communicate with applicants. Many online applications and websites demand you have one to apply for jobs and without one, you can’t.

So with respect to your email, what does yours say about you? Consider that this is going to appear at the top of your résumé; it’s going to be on a cover letter, and it’s certainly going to be what someone in the organization you hope to work for clicks on or manually enters digit by digit when they contact you. So are they going to think about what it is and what it says to them? You’d best believe it.

One of the worst things you can do is choose to use an email that has your age in it; be it your age when you created it or the year of your birth. Yet time and time again when I’m asked to give my opinion on someone’s resume, there it is. I’ll often ask someone if they think it’s a good idea to put their age on a résumé and typically the answer most of the time is a confident, “no”. I’ll reply then, “So why did you tell them you’re 47? This usually startles the person and they ask me, “Where did I put that?” and I’ll point out their email which says, “billsmith47@…”

Also a poor idea is to include a number which could be your birthday or age even though it isn’t. Anyone reading it won’t know what that number means to you but they’ll certainly be entitled to make that assumption. So 47 might be Bill’s house number or he was born on the 7th of April, but that’s not what most people are going to infer.

Very common too are the emails suggested by the computer software when you try to use an email already claimed by another person. You’ve seen I’m sure the ones where some random numbers follow some combination of your name or what you were trying to use. Why anyone would choose to allow a random email generating program to choose their personal email is beyond me. Well, that’s not true really; I know people use them out of frustration, or they simply don’t know better. Still, this is a bad choice my friend.

Finally, stay away – please! – from the cute or sexy email names. Do you want to be thought of as juvenile, over sexed, or just plain inappropriate? My all-time favourite for ridiculous was someone with the email that began, “fluffybunnykins@…” Fluffy bunnykins? That apparently was the email created for a woman by her mom when the woman was 12 years old. While cute, it didn’t fit the professional image this grown woman was going for. In the same vein, avoid things like, “sexyxoxo@”, spankme@”, “loveme69@”. I didn’t invent these, and they’re taken already. Sometimes I just shake my head.”

Alright already, enough with what NOT to do! Let’s move on to one of two different strategies that I would recommend.

The first strategy is good if you know exactly what it is your after job or career-wise. I’ll use myself here as an example. I’m an Employment Counsellor by profession. Aside from my day job where my employer dictates my email address, I also provide employment counselling services and job search help in my personal time. So the email I have is, “employmentcounsellorkelly@gmail.com” This email address BRANDS me by profession and now the email serves a dual purpose. Sure it’s how people get in contact with me but it also brands me and what I do. So if you’re a committed PSW you could be, “pswbriansmith@…” or “brianpswsmith@…”. Some version of the name and the job title embedded together is what you’re after.

The second strategy I use more and more isn’t so much about branding yourself by profession. This then is good for the kind of person who is looking for work in more than one line of work. It would be hard to brand yourself as a Personal Support Worker like the above when you’re also open to a job as an Office Administrative professional. That, “pswbriansmith@…” would only work for one of the jobs you’re after and send the wrong message for any other types.

So what to do? Consider what you want the employer to do when they receive your résumé. What you’re after of course is a call or contact in some way from the person arranging interviews to set one up. So why not say what you want right in your email? Consider, “callbriansmith@…” or “contactbrianqsmith@…” Adding the words, “call” or “contact” to your email has the effect of making the reader actually say to themselves a version of “I should call Brian Smith”. This is exactly what you’re hoping for in submitting your résumé.

Now while there’s nothing wrong with some version of your name only, as in “brian.q.smith@…” it’s pretty plain and straight forward. Nothing wrong as I say, but it’s not really DOING anything for you is it?

Your email might be something you’ve just taken for granted and never really thought much about. Think about it now!

Getting Help With Your Resume? Think On This

As an Employment Counsellor, I constantly get asked the question, “Will you help me do my resume?” I have learned that for some people at any rate, what the question they are really asking me is, “Will you do my resume?” They omit the key words, “help me”.

I can tell you that the quality of the resume which is produced at the end is greatly influenced by the proximity and involvement of the person whose name is at the top of the page. If I do that resume on my own without the person beside me, it will turn out good but it won’t be as great as it could be. If on the other hand the person is on –hand and can add some insights and provides me with information that I can then incorporate into the document, the quality is markedly better.

Furthermore I have to add that one of the most satisfying things about helping someone out is the sharing of the methodology itself. Just, doing it for them certainly gives them what they wanted – an end product. However, working on it together and doing it with them empowers the person who through the process learns how to do future resumes themselves. Empowering others is something I find great satisfaction in.

Without being  present  and assisting in the creation of the resume, you’ll only see the final product and miss the thought process involved. Often a person will look at a document and be immediately impressed; they feel genuinely good about themselves on paper – as I would hope they would. However, that same resume doesn’t always generate the desired result – a job interview. The reason is that the resume I’ve constructed doesn’t match up with a specific job as well as it could because without the person’s input, the words I’ve selected to use or the skills I’ve highlighted are close but not the best they could be.

So I put it to you that if you are going to employ the help of an Employment Counsellor, Job Coach, Resume Writer or any other professional to assist you in making a resume that you stay involved. This is your best chance at ending up with a resume that not only looks good but will ultimately garner you more results. You don’t really know what you’ve got until the resume is out there and you see whether it gets you interviews or not after all.

Understand that resume writing has changed over the years. Years ago if you had someone make a resume for you, they would charge you a certain amount and for that you’d get maybe 20 or 30 copies of the same document. You’d then spread those precious resumes around and hope to get some results. Here in 2016, most professionals know that the resume they produce is targeted to one single job – not a single type of job you understand – just one job posting. If you want to apply for a second job, you don’t just submit the same resume you’ve had created. You would modify the resume you have slightly or greatly to match the specific needs of the second employer; even when the second job has the same job title as the first. Not everybody understands this message.

I had a fellow recently ask me to help him with his resume. Again, what he really meant was do it for him completely in his absence. When I asked him if he’d be willing to meet with me to do it together, he said, “Why would I be there? You’re the expert; I’d just be watching you. No, I’ll wait for you to finish it.” As much as I tried to explain the benefit of being in the process with me, he wasn’t interested in learning how to do it for himself, but only in having it done for him. I imagine that if he gets the job interview he is hoping for he’ll thank me. However, I also imagine that if the job interview isn’t forthcoming, he’ll rationalize that I’m not such the expert I think I am, and he’ll point the finger of blame in my direction instead of re-considering that his presence could have improved the final product.

No matter who you get to assist you with your resume, commit some time to go through the process with the person.

I caution you against using the services – especially if you’re paying the person – of someone who prefers or insists on doing it without you around. A lot of people on the internet are happy to take your money and send you a resume. Resist the temptation of these providers; go for locally done by someone who walks through the creation process with you. When you pay for someone to help you make a resume whom you’ll never meet, they can never produce a document as effective as someone with the same talent who meets you in person.

A good resume has to use your language, express things as you’d express them in an interview. Employers can spot a resume made by someone else easily if the person applying and the resume don’t match up. This can make you look dishonest or at the very least disingenuous; and as you should know, honesty is a highly coveted value employers hold.

Sharing What I Received On Writing Resumes

Last month I put out an open request for input on the content and design of resumes. This was prompted when my fellow Employment Counsellors and I decided that it would be prudent to look at how others were constructing resumes, and feedback from other resume professionals, job hunters and employers would ensure we were using best practices.

Those that responded provided resume samples and comments, shared the reasons behind their suggestions and ideas, and I really appreciated the time and effort they put into what I received from them. Many also asked to be advised of what we came up with in the end too.

We decided that there has to be some room for variations and exceptions to any format as there is no, ‘one-size-fits-all’ resume. Here then, in the interest of networking and sharing, is some of what we arrived at:

  • Consistent use of Ariel font size 12 (Name only up to 20 pt.)
  • Email and phone number mandatory when available; drop headings, “Email” and “Phone No.”
  • Address optional – explain pros and cons and leave the decision to the person to include or not. Generally left out if punctuality and attendance could be a red flag based on distance of commute
  • Link to a LinkedIn profile included if the profile is fully developed
  • “Objective” or “Employment Objective” dropped
  • Profile (2-3 sentences) used immediately below contact information, written to self-brand and market concisely a person’s value offer; designed to motivate a full read of the document
  • “Qualifications” as a heading instead of “Highlights of Qualifications”
  • Qualifications should be in the present and mirror both the order and the words in the advertised posting rather than be buried in the 4th bullet
  • “Relevant Experience” used as a heading to capture both paid and non-paid experience that is pertinent to the job being applied to
  • “Additional Experience” used as a 2nd heading to capture both paid and non-paid experience a person has done but is not directly related to the job being applied to
  • Each experience formatted as Job Title Organization  Date in a single line with date to the extreme right
  • Months omitted from dates to avoid making positions appear brief
  • Locations omitted from each position (i.e. name of town, community, country) to avoid any opportunity of being discriminated against
  • Verbs used to describe actions in present jobs should be present; past used in the case of past jobs: “Manage” vs. “Managed etc.
  • Bullets should be round black dots in size 12 (like I’m using here)
  • Bulleted lines should not be concluded with periods, but if they are opted for, use them all the time or never; but not mixed
  • Include all internships, apprenticeships, volunteer work, co-ops and placements but do not identify them as such, as some employers place a reduced value on these vs. paid work
  • “Education and Professional Development” used a heading to capture a mix of both instead of two sections
  • Following the same format as experience, start with what the person obtained (Diploma, Degree, Certificate name) in bold, then the name of the organization to the right in regular font
  • Avoid any reference to an alternative, on-line or adult education experience as again some employers may de-value these and infer negative connotations; name the school board instead of the actual school attended
  • 8 ½” x 11” white paper stock
  • No italics, page borders, pictures, underlines, tables or templates
  • Do not cut and paste the job qualifications into the resume
  • Omit “References Available Upon Request” as this is a standard entity; use “Exceptional References Upon Request” if warranted and desired
  • Ensure grammar and spelling are correct
  • Ensure email is professional; it could be developed to self-brand or prompt action (mary.smith.psw@, callmary.psw.smith@)

One creative idea I received was the idea of inserting a few endorsements or recommendations from others, embedded right in the resume. Presumably, the reader would view these as external validation of the person’s impact and performance, and say, “If they’ve had such an impact while working elsewhere, I’d like to have them making that same impact working for me. Let’s offer them an interview.” I’d be interested in a follow up to see if this strategy works or not.

Where the biggest split in opinion seems to be is in the formatting of a current or previous positon on the resume. Some opted to put the name of the company first and bold, followed by the title of the position held on the following line in regular font. Others, (my peers and I included) came down on the side of putting the positon held first and in bold, with the organization in regular font.

The position we embraced as a group is that the resume is a person’s personal marketing document and as such, the employer first and foremost wants to know what positions an applicant has held, rather than the companies they’ve been employed by.

As I said earlier, I am happy to share these summations with you, and this was a good example of what networking and sharing is all about. We can learn so much from each other. I’d encourage you to actively engage when the opportunities to do so present themselves. You learn if you’re open and in the case of resumes, I could well offer a Job Seeker an alternative format I’d not previously considered.

Hope you found something here of value; a new idea or reinforcing your own style.

How The Letter ‘S’ Reveals You On Your Resume

Many people these days seek out the advice and consultative services of career counsellors, professional resume writers, job coaches and advisors. Many more don’t unfortunately, and in competitive job markets, you increasingly need every advantage you can muster to be ultimately successful. So if you are seeking or currently getting this kind of support, I sincerely applaud you.

I would offer you a piece of advice myself however, and that is to carefully scan your resume, cover letter, or any other such document you receive before getting up and walking away. While you might not want to have your need to look over the documents misinterpreted as mistrust or suspicion when talking about the quality of the work done, you name is all over the document.

Let me share with you how the letter, ‘s’ for example can expose you in ways you would not normally suspect, and if pointed out to you for the first time in the middle of an interview, could undermine your confidence completely. It has to do with first person versus third person language.

You might want to pull out your own resume as you read this, and see whether or not this common mistake is actually in your own resume. If it is, my suggestion would be to correct it before you hand out a further resume.

Let’s take as an example, the resume of a Personal Support Worker, where the bullet in question speaks to the persons ability to provide respectful care and the residents right to living with dignity. Examine this statement:

  • Respects residents rights to receive care delivered with compassion to preserve dignity

Okay, so do you see anything wrong with the above statement? While it may or may not be obvious to you, it may be a telling sign to the person reading the resume that you didn’t compose the resume yourself. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it might suggest that not only this one line but the entire document was done by someone else, and that could throw your entire authenticity out the window.

By adding the ‘s’ to the word, ‘respect’ what is inferred is another word, ‘she’ or ‘he’. So it reads, ‘She respects residents rights….” This is the third person language I referred to earlier. It’s as if there is a third person present talking with someone else about you.

First-person language is achieved and is the best practice by eliminating the letter, ‘s’ from the word. So it should look like this:

  • Respect residents rights to receive care delivered with compassion to preserve dignity

With the exclusion of the letter, ‘s’, what is now inferred as you read it is the word, ‘I’ as in, “I respect residents rights…” While the word, “I” should not be used on the resume itself, it is inferred by the reader, and when in first-person language, it rings with authenticity, as you made that statement rather than someone else making that statement about you.

If you were with a group of people and someone said something to the group about what you believe, you might find someone speak up and say, “Really, I’d like to hear that directly from him.” When you say things yourself, it becomes easier to either be believed or revealed depending on the confidence with which you state it. The same is true in this case with the written word versus the spoken word.

So why am I bothering to share this tiny bit of advice with you? Especially if you have had your resume produced by a professional? The simple reason is two-fold; 1) I’ve seen the best of resume writers make this error from time to time, but more often the case, 2) I’ve seen people update their resumes after having them done professionally and make this mistake without even knowing they’ve made it.

Now here’s another leap that some readers will make when they are looking over your resume. Should they find such a mistake, they may go ahead an make some assumptions about you, your education level, your proofreading, your attention to details etc. How ironic if the job calls for strong attention to details and you have mistakes in your document.

It is precisely because your name is at the top of a resume that you should carefully go over your document while still in the presence of the person who is crafting it with you. Find a mistake for example, and you can correct it immediately. There are many people who will present themselves as resume writing experts, and like any other occupation, there will be among them, the good, the great, the average and the poor.

I would like to think that if I were paying someone to help me with the crafting of such a vital document, that when all was said and done, not only would I have the completed resume, but I’d also have an understanding of WHY it was made a certain way, and HOW it was done so I could make revisions in the future on my own. More to the point, as your name is at the top, you should be comfortable asking some questions about anything you’d like clarification on.

Did you find the ‘s’ on your own resume where it should be left out? A small thing perhaps in the grand scheme of things, but critical nonetheless.

This ‘Resume Expert’ Goofs Up

Every now and then I am gently reminded that I’m human and making an error is not out of the question. This is a good thing I tell myself if no one is adversely affected and I can learn from the experience. And so today my colleagues and much-appreciated readers, I would like to share my latest mix up.

It was just before Christmas and I was sitting down with a woman who had come into a resume writing class for help. On that day, it turned out that we only had four clients and we had four staff available so we opted to go one-on-one instead of a formal group presentation. So there I was sitting with this woman as I say, spouting off my accumulated expertise and feeling pretty grand about how much she herself was getting out of it.

Now she didn’t have much working experience being in her early twenties, and it was a challenge to put together a strong resume with the limited jobs she has held to date. One of those jobs was stocking and facing products in a store overnight so the shelves were ready for customers the following day. I get this job, I understand what’s involved, and I spun the two bullets I’d written for her into useful transferable skills. “Well done”, I may have said to myself that day – although I honestly can’t say I said it for sure.

So it was with horror and amusement that I saw just yesterday afternoon what I had actually put on that resume when she stood before me and pointed out the error I’d made. Yes folks, there it was in all it’s black and white glory, plain as day and you can laugh out loud if you want. The job title read, “Night Stalker” instead of “Night Stocker.”

Well I couldn’t believe it. We had both joked about this very thing on that day we’d first met. Here I had actually typed it in and both of us had overlooked it in the proofreading. Yep, me the big ‘resume expert’; the guy who takes pride in his work and is constantly advising others to have an, ‘expert’ look over your resume for errors – yep I goofed up. “You haven’t actually handed this out anywhere have you?”, I asked in horror. Thankfully the answer was that she had not. “Whew!”

So no real harm done beyond my smarting ego and we both had a good laugh. It had the potential to cost her a job interview had she sent it out somewhere by now, and for once I was glad somebody hadn’t used it right away. I obviously apologized and corrected it for her and the copy we retain for our own records. Night stalking is a job you don’t actually need a resume for anyhow. I wonder if night stalking goes in the job description of a private eye, pest control technician or burglar?

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you really. First and foremost I think it’s healthy to share our mistakes with each other which keeps us humble. My intent for the immediate future is to improve my final proofreading and also to use this story when helping others so they themselves don’t rely on other people solely to review their work. If your name is on the top of a document that someone else wrote up for you, you yourself have to be accountable and responsible for whatever is on it just as this lady did.

I’m also sharing my error with you in an effort to illustrate that mistakes are going to happen. Yes despite our best efforts, you and I are both going to error from time-to-time and it’s more what we do when the errors come to light than the error’s themselves depending on the scope of what we’ve tripped ourselves up on. I got lucky here as it is just my reputation and pride that got slightly dinged. I can live with this.

Sometimes however, the errors we make can also work to our favour. In this case I feel fortunate that this brought her back into the Centre where I work, and it gave me the opportunity to touch base with her. She still really appreciates the overall resume, and it is far better and stronger than what she had when we first met. How I responded to her by immediately owning the error I’d made, allowed her to just see the humour along with me. Had I somehow blamed her for not proofreading it better herself or blamed the noise around us etc. she might have actually thought less of me yesterday.

I admit this is a small error in the grand scheme of things. If you error and people suffer for it, or a company loses a great deal of money over it, the stakes for you personally can be huge. However it is the measure of a person in how quickly they own up to their errors and face the consequences that is important. Mistakes can cost us our jobs and sometimes damage our reputations, but flaws in our character by lying about things or denying responsibility tend to stick much longer and do more long-term damage.

When you goof up – and you will, I pray that your mistake is as small and easily fixed as mine.

Specific Help For YOUR Resume

This entire blog is going to be devoted to a single concept which if you take heed and implement will have the impact of strengthening your entire resume. By the time you are done, you will look at the finished product and feel a rise in your self-esteem, feel more confident about your overall applications in the future and be proud of how you look on paper.

I’m referring to the content of each bullet or line under you various work or volunteer roles. Instead of just putting done a few succinct words that say what you did, indicate your understanding of why you did the work you did and how that benefited your employer. Then as a potential employer reads it, they will understand that you get ‘it’; and if you understood your role for someone else, you will get ‘it’ when working for them. Not everybody gets ‘it’.

So right about now I bet a concrete example would help with your understanding of what it is I’m saying. Fair enough. Suppose the resume you are making is for a job as a Cashier in a grocery store. I like using examples of common jobs we all experience so that the majority of readers can relate. Okay so suppose the resume said this:

– Took money, ran till and bagged groceries

In the above bullet there are three job requirements and responsibilities being performed. Usually when I ask real people who have items like the above on their own resumes WHY they did those things, they reply by telling me it was their job, and they look at me like it’s an obvious answer that anyone should know.

But here’s the key thing. If you are only putting the absolute minimum on the resume of things you’ve done, and the only reason you did them was because the job description or boss told you to do it, you don’t get it! You are not marketing yourself to the best of your abilities and an employer can hire just about anyone to do those three things I think you’d agree, so why then don’t they hire just anyone? Why do they keep going through resumes until they settle on a select few to interview, and in the interview why not hire just anyone? No they keep looking for the right people. In both the resume and the interview they are looking for someone who will communicate to their satisfaction that they get it; and ‘it’ represents what exactly?

‘It’ is the understanding of the role you are applying for and how it fits into the overall business. So again, let’s look at that revised bullet first and then break down what’s being communicated.

– Entrusted to receive and accurately process payments including debit, cash and credit card transactions
– Carefully and quickly bagged groceries for customers to keep lines moving, all the while smiling and chatting with customers, thanking them for shopping with us and encouraging them to return which creates strong customer loyalty

Okay so it took two lines on a resume to get those same three job requirements. Can you see now however as this revision not only says what the person has done, but it demonstrates that they go about doing their job understanding that their role in the big picture is to be friendly, helpful, and by doing things this way they encourage repeat business which increases a stores profitability? I also point out the simple word, ‘”Entrusted’. This single word strengthens the words which follow because it states they trusted you and the implied message is that the person reading the resume considering you can trust you in the future.

Words that set up or add descriptions to words that follow beef up a resume and make the reading more interesting. You go from what I call a, ‘Tarzan’ or ‘Caveman’ kind of resume to one that is rich and brands you as someone who can not only do the job, but goes about the job with a higher purpose and understanding of how that job fits in the organization.

So imagine a store where people go about their business and all of them are, ‘just doing what’s in my job description’. Now imagine that same grocery store where people go about their business with purpose, with a greater understanding of their role in the overall operation. The people in the second example are going to do more, and do it with a smile, take a genuine interest in helping their customers, and the customers are going to flock to that second store because the experience – and that’s the key – the experience is much more enjoyable and they’ll want to repeat that experience again and again.

So back to the resume. Imagine now each and every bullet on your resume being rich and showing that you get ‘it’. The overall impact is going to land you more interviews no matter what job you’ve done and are talking about. Try searching online and look for, ‘action words for resumes’. You’ll get reams of good words to start each bullet and will be on the way to making a better and stronger resume that gets more results.

If you want true success, ensure each bullet on your resume doesn’t just state what you’ve done in a job, but shows why you did it, and the best bullets always relate these to the job you are now applying for.

Good luck!

Good Resume Writers Work With You

Recently I had reason to speak with someone looking for employment. They said to me that they had been approached by someone who was offering to write their resume for them. After a few questions, I determined that the suggestion was for the person to send their existing resume by email to the, ‘expert’, and the ‘expert’ would re-do it and mail it back.

If you yourself ever get someone offering to do the same, you should be cautious about doing so. The flaw in going about having your resume done this way is that the person who is now putting your resume together is doing it without the advantage of consulting with you; you the person who worked those jobs, went to those schools, took that education. How do they know without asking what your vocabulary is as well? So it won’t be composed in a way that makes sense for you personally, nor will it be the best it can be.

Look at it this way if you will: a mechanic can install brakes on your car and do a professional job without you around. The reason? The right brakes are the ones matched to the make of the car and comes standardized from the manufacturer of the vehicle. Again and again for every customer, the same brakes go on the same types of vehicles. A different kind of vehicle than yours will get the right brakes made for that make or model. You don’t need to be there.

However when it comes to resumes, no two should be identical. Your past combination of jobs, experience, education, volunteer placements and accomplishments are unique to you. The jobs you are applying for have slightly or very different skill and qualification requirements. So to make a resume that is showing you at your best, you have to either be making your own resume, or present and able to be consulted by someone else doing your resume for you.

For this reason more than any other, if you are going to have someone offer to do your resume for you who wants you to pay them for their time but they aren’t going to actually speak with you, then be cautious.

Now I myself have had people send me resumes and ask me to tell them what I think. I will go about making some suggestions, fixing some grammar and spelling errors and re-word some things to strengthen what I’ve been sent. In other words, because a spelling error is a spelling error no matter where you live, I can fix it with confidence. And with confidence I can add a required section to a resume that the original author didn’t use. I may even take a shot at adding lines to a person’s resume about what they did in a job and how it relates to the job they are applying for, if the job on the resume is a standard well-known job, and I know what someone in that role does.

But the resume isn’t really complete when I send it back to them. Nope. That resume should go back and forth and the person who has their name at the top of the resume should be reading it and not afraid to make changes if someone on it isn’t accurate or is in language they don’t understand.

So what’s the difference between what I’m doing and what this other ‘expert’ is doing? Well this other expert was actually never named. A Recruiter contacted the job seeker and sent an email saying, “Hey before I pass on your resume to the employer, it needs re-writing. I know someone who is an expert and they usually charge $150.00. Let me know if you want me to send your resume to them.” So who is this expert anyhow? Could it be the Recruiter just wants to pocket $150 from the applicant and they’ll do it themselves and say it was done by some anonymous expert? Surely the Recruiter has seen enough resumes that they themselves would meet with the job applicant and together re-do the resume?

A good practice is to meet face-to-face with someone you are having help you with your resume. Lots of questions should go back and forth, such as, “Tell me what you accomplished in this job you did back in 2008?” Armed with this information, the experienced resume writer can then pick and choose the most relevant and important things to add to the resume. If there are therefore many miles that separate the ‘expert’ from the applicant, email becomes one way to have it done, but I’d suggest some free emails back and forth to answer questions posed by the ‘expert’ are a good idea.

Of course there are other ways to go about this too. A face-to-face meeting could be held using your computer, or a phone call might be the answer. The bottom line is communication should be occurring. And when the resume is submitted for review and changes, you should include the posting you are applying, for.

Should you pay for someone to do your resume at all? Under some circumstances, yes. But before paying, ask how many revisions you are allowed if any, for the same fee. And you should get an electronic copy of the resume, not just paper versions in the post.

A $100 Resume Critique

Recently I had the opportunity to spend 5 hours sitting and listening to an individual speak about resumes and the online application process. At the outset of the presentation, each of us was given a softcover book the person had written and advised it was a $30 value. Inside that book was a slip of paper requesting the favour of a positive review on the internet and in exchange for that, we would receive a critique of our own resume; a $100 value.

$100. And just for a split second I thought to myself, “Are there people out there who will pay $100 for a resume critique? Really? And I have come to the conclusion that like anything else, yes there are people willing to pay that much and more.

Late in the day, the speaker put a resume up for all to view on a screen and I got to see presumably what $100 looks like. And there it was; your typical resume if you can imagine that with balloons in each section (I counted 7). Each balloon when clicked on, opened up and there were her thoughts and suggestions for the reader to see and hopefully then have the skills to act on.

But did you catch that last line? I repeat, she made suggestions which the person who wrote the resume now has to have the necessary skills to apply, in order to strengthen the resume. After the person makes those changes, it is more than likely that the changes themselves should be reviewed and critiqued for spelling, grammar, strength, etc. Bear in mind, this is only one resume. If as most resume ‘experts’ suggest, people should be making one resume for each job they apply to, then that $100 had better be paid by someone who has the necessary skills to take the helpful suggestions on one of their resumes and be able to apply the advice to all future resumes.

The speaker also mentioned that the thought of spending 40 hours on a single resume doesn’t appeal to everyone initially, so she asks them to do the math. If successful, say you get a job worth $50,000.00. Divide it by 40 hours, and you invest $1,250 per hour on your job search including research on-line, writing it and the cover letter. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have never invested 40 hours in applying for a single job. Taking your time and doing your homework is one thing, but 40 hours seems excessive. And the purpose of the math left me scratching my head too.

My advice however would be to never to pay anyone $100 for a resume critique. It may be helpful to be sure, but the advice she was providing to us who were all from community agencies is advice we can easily locate, or in my own case and that of my colleague who attended with me, advice given for free. $100 vs. free; and your choice would be…..?

Pick up a book on resume writing at a local library where it’s free, or sit in a bookstore with your favourite beverage and read it for free. Or scour the internet looking for free resources on how to make an effective resume and you might not only find that, but perhaps someone who will critique yours at no charge. Sure you should be wary of the source and their credentials. But this is one area where you don’t ‘get what you pay for’. Paying $100 doesn’t guarantee you’ll get anything better than something you paid nothing for.

Sure people have to make a living, and if this is the way the individual is supporting themselves; doing presentations, charging for her book, taking money from people to have their resumes critiqued, well good for her. Why not? But while that defence works for her, it doesn’t follow that you who may be unemployed and tight for money have to pay for the services you could find elsewhere for free, especially at a time where your money might be very tight.

Am I lobbying for people who read this blog to flood me with their own resumes for critique just because I do it for free? Absolutely not. After all, why would I do that to myself and what would be my motive? And if people did do that, wouldn’t I be flooded and find doing a superior job for each person impossible? You bet. But I’d say in the last two weeks, I’ve critiqued at least 30. Imagine how I’d feel if all 30 paid me $100 each!
But I’ll share with you this: the information that was passed along in that 5 hour presentation broke down like this:
• new information I wasn’t aware of – 10 minutes
• information I already knew and dispense every single day – 4 hours and 30 minutes
• information I provided which the presenter said was new to her – 20 minutes

And the point of that breakdown is this: you can find knowledgeable people around the globe who have the expertise and willingness to share that expertise if you look, you ask, and you follow-up on leads from others. If you find money is tight, be frugal. If you want to pay for your information, there will always be people thankful for your money.

But maybe I’m wrong. Anyone willing to pay me $100 for a resume critique is welcome to send it my way!

The Resume Expert

Ah, yet another somebody has some ‘new’ take on your resume. Yes, you’ve taken your tweaked resume to somebody who professes to know a thing or two about resumes, and instead of giving you a thumbs up, they don’t even take their eye off your resume and say, “Do you mind if I mark it up with some changes?” And that’s when it hits you like a brick on the forehead – is there ever a resume that everybody would agree is fine just the way it is?!

Here is the basic thing you have to know about a resume. THERE IS NO SINGLE PERFECT RESUME THAT PROFESSIONALS WILL ALL AGREE IS FABULOUS. When you ask a professional to assess your resume, here are some tips that might help you determine if you are in good hands or not.

1) Did the ‘Expert’ ask you what kind of response the resume you’ve handed them has been getting before they start editing? In other words, is the current resume working for you or not?

The reason this is important is that even an effective resume needs to be circulated and used to apply for work in order to determine if it is getting you interviews. If you’ve had your resume done for you and 3 months later you’ve only applied for two jobs with no response, there isn’t enough data to know if it’s effective or not.

2) Did the ‘Expert’ ask to see the posting that the resume was designed for or just start editing?

In todays competitive market, a resume needs to be specifically crafted to address a single posting. One resume for one job. How then, can anyone evaluate the appropriateness of the resume without first seeing and reading the posting that the resume is designed to match? If the ‘Expert’ doesn’t ask to see the posting, maybe they aren’t the Expert they clain to be.

3) Did the ‘Expert’ share the reasons behind their thinking or just do it for you?

Real Experts, the kind with integrity will spend some time with you and explain the rationale for making the suggestions that they do. They know that if you come to understand why something is important to consider, you are far more likely to be able in the future to make your own changes with confidence. If the ‘Expert’ asks you to leave it with them and they produce a great looking resume in your absence, you may be hooked in to seeking their help again and again, which if you are paying for their service will cost you dearly in the end.

4) Did the ‘Expert’ take into consideration your vocabulary?

Nothing is worse that going to an interview and having the interviewer ask you for some clarification of a word or two on your resume that you don’t even understand the meaning of. So what are you to do – tell the interviewer that somebody did it for you? Make sure the language in the resume meets the job posting but that you understand each and every word or phrase. It’s YOUR resume afterall.

5) Did the ‘Expert’ give you time to critique it yourself?

When you are handed your resume, take a few seconds to think, “Wow!” but, don’t be so impressed and grateful that you get up and leave. Stay seated and read it slowly…more slowly than you would normally. Look for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, punctuation problems, mismatched bullets, different sized fonts, formatting problems, errors in your phone number or email address, columns that don’t line up perfectly. You can bet that employers will notice these little things – they are trained to do so. Failing to see these problems shows a lack of concern or attention to detail on your part. If you find a mistake, insist on the correction.

There are many things to consider when you request help in putting your resume together. There are books, on-line tutorials, manuals, templates, etc. etc. etc. all designed to do two things – take your money and give you a resume. No matter what decision you make on who to ask to help you produce yours, consider the after sale service – just as you would if you were buying a car. If you need additional copies, or minor changes, or a futher consultation will you have an easy time or a hard time sitting down with the person who is offering to help you now?

Resumes are important documents that you should think of as your personal marketing tool. It’s a reflection of who you are on paper. Give your resume a lot of attention and think carefully about how you want to portray yourself on those one or two pages.