Everything your resume writer didn’t tell you

Resume writer secrets

Resume writers, as other professionals who work closely with their clients, often can’t tell about the clients about their most important mistakes. This is caused by the fear of offending a client. Being perceived as offensive, could mean a client not coming back for a repeat consultation. Hence, some job seekers end up not getting all of their money’s worth because of professional attitudes and behaviour rules.

Money Bear Club readers will be able to tap into the potential of ideas that CV writers don’t tell to their clients. Using these ideas may help job seekers make better CV writing choices. Also, they may contribute to increasing the chances of getting hired. Read an account of resume writing problems, from a person who has worked as a resume writer.

Scroll down to find more about resume content, writing, and design secrets that resume writers don’t tell their clients.

Simplicity is the key

A part some job seekers tend to over-focus on is the design of their resume. The variety of resume templates and CV design guides, articles, and even books (yes, they exist), attest to the fact that there is a niche of job seekers who believe that the design of their resume is an important factor in the hiring process.

everything your resume writer didnt tell you and money bear club
Simplicity in resume creation. Copyright: Money Bear Club.

The resume design importance ends when the point of “good enough” is reached. Sure, looking at an aesthetically pleasing resume may be enjoyable to the job seeker. An aesthetically impressive resume is an additional goal for a job seeker to reach, and it provides a sense of accomplishment and sureness in the volatile process of job searching.

However, even the perfect resume design won’t help the candidate unless he or she has the qualities for the job position. In my experience as a resume writer, the candidates with the least experience, tend to provide the most aesthetically advanced resumes. One very experienced public security professional (with the right qualifications), provided a simple resume with no additional design. Only certain phrases were marked in bold.

There are exceptions to this case. A certified food industry professional provided a resume whose design obviously came from a CV-writing company. The multiple, bright, and also professional colours (please avoid colours like red, yellow, and green in resumes), contributed to a nice colour scheme. However, the large amounts of text, and the oversimplification of the job seeker’s accomplishments, put the client at a disadvantage.

Using a simple resume template and tweaking it a bit is enough. I haven’t met an HR industry professional who would prioritize the design of a resume in the hiring process. A resume with many additional design details, can even create a bad impression of a job seeker.

In own experience as the person choosing the candidates for a job position, the one part which matters the most in a resume? The things or metrics a potential employee has achieved. If it’s a position where a lot of technical skill is required, the qualifications of a candidate, is the area where an employer will place their focus on.

Simplicity is also important in the language and phrases a job seeker uses in their CV. I have had clients, whose resume texts were very difficult to read. If the “experience” portion of a resume requires a double-take to read it, a job seeker will encounter difficulties in getting hired.

Complex phrases and flowery language have many appropriate applications, but a resume isn’t one of them. Not to be confused with making the most out of a work experience (cashier at McDonald’s >> client finance assistant); language with a high Flesch-Kincaid grade level has no place in a resume.

From a personal opinion, overtly complicated work position titles also can cause difficulties for job seekers. Clients who had titles of “Customer Happiness Engineers” or similar positions in their resumes, were victims of some complex corporate practices. And it hurt them in their search for a better job.

Companies will rename positions like “Customer Service Agent” into titles which sound far better, and make the candidate feel good about their job. The problem is that, while in the short-term it all looks good on the paper, in the long-term, it will hurt job seekers if they don’t take appropriate measures.

There’s no shame in being a customer service agent or an assistant. However, when a potential employee finds a title that suggests a senior position, and the job seeker is actually a lower level employee, the whole resume may cause suspicion.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way out of this problem. There’s nothing wrong with renaming complicated and not 100% accurate job titles, into ones, which reflect the real job experiences of a candidate.

It’s possible to be a superstar

Some job seekers I have had the opportunity to work with, were too shy about their accomplishments, and it reflected on their resumes. Some were genuinely shy about their accomplishments, and some just didn’t know that accomplishments matter far more than position names, or companies they were working in.

Let’s consider the example of a scientist I worked with. She had accomplishments in her CV that only a few people in the world will get the opportunity to have. She not only had the industry qualifications, and experience, but also a world-class research background. How did her resume look at first?

The world-class accomplishments were hidden in the middle of her resume, and the very rare opportunities that she fully took advantage of, were mentioned in just one short sentence.

The introductory section of a resume is there for candidates to introduce their expertise and focus, and to show off their accomplishments. When job candidates just list off the basics of their experience and education in the introductory section, they just come off as unimpressive. Even if the basics involve experience at prestigious companies and educational institution, the candidate does not come across as someone extraordinary.

A candidate should provide information about rare opportunities or accomplishments in the introductory part of their resume – only then the resume will stand out. The first sentences in a resume, are the ones that will be in the back of the mind of a recruiter, when they’ll be making decisions related to a candidate.

Impressive accomplishments in the beginning of a resume, will guarantee a favourable first impression. Moreover, these accomplishments will be the ones that will be judged against the accomplishments of other candidates.

If the introductory part of a CV just lists off general information about a potential employee, then the potential employee’s general information will be judged against the best accomplishments of other candidates.

Some job seekers reading this article, will think that they haven’t achieved impressive accomplishments in their careers.

Most likely, they are wrong. Improving operational efficiency by 20%, sales by 10%, or some similar metric, is an impressive accomplishment. Earning certificates in courses that few employees in the industry are able to complete, is an impressive accomplishment. Even finding and implementing strategies for managing difficult clients, is also an impressive accomplishment.

Don’t undersell the most important product in your life – yourself. Candidates often forget their past accomplishments, and instead focus on their present. A legal professional “forgot” to share his most important accomplishment. It was his leadership in an important case, in the top court of his country. If this mistake wasn’t corrected, he would have had encountered far more difficulties when getting hired.

The accomplishments that may seem insignificant to ourselves, are often far more impressive to others. Focusing on accomplishments even if they seem small, will greatly increase the chances of getting hired.

Suggestions don’t help

Some of the clients I have written resumes for, liked to get involved in the writing process. And that involvement manifested itself in unhelpful suggestions, which were not supported by arguments.

A resume writer will never directly tell that the suggestions of their clients are unhelpful. That would be bad for the business. Nonetheless, some suggestions of my clients were counterproductive, and just increased the time it took to write a resume. Moreover, they didn’t add any additional value to a resume.

It’s important to remember that every resume is written for a specific sector, or more commonly, for a specific job posting. That’s why successful candidates, often customize their resumes for each and every one job posting they are responding to.

The same is true for resume writers. We write resumes so that they show off the best qualities of candidates, in the most appropriate way for a specific job.

When a client tells us to change one or another part of their resume into something else, and doesn’t explain their logic, they are just creating a disadvantage for themselves.

Even in resume content mills, resume writers are strictly supervised, and have to adhere to very rigid CV writing guidelines. When a job seeker responds to a CV draft with suggestions that aren’t supported by arguments, they just make the CV writer’s job harder.

Providing suggestions with arguments to back them up, will help both your resume, and the writer of your resume. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a product made just how you envision it. However, putting some trust into the expertise of professionals, is required for most client and service provider relationships.

For those who write their resumes on their own, the idea of suggestions being backed by arguments, may also help in their job search. Editing a resume only when the action is supported by a sound argument of why the editing must be done, is the better way to approach resume writing. Not only does this make every edit a more rational decision, but it also can show which ideas work for the client’s resume, and which don’t.

Tell us more

Suggestions from clients most often don’t help. However, when a resume writer does not have enough information, they may turn a CV into one largely written according to their ideas about the client.

If a job seeker buys a resume writing or editing service, they essentially buy the services of their own personal copywriter. A resume writer is able to spin the experience of entry-level jobs into something far greater.

So when a client just provides their old CV and nothing more, the most a resume writer can do, is to find better phrases and design for the CV.

If a resume writer doesn’t have strong ethical standards, and enough information, they may create not entirely truthful statements in the resumes of their clients. Some clients may even like it.

However, this can turn into a big problem. A client might not be able to tell more about these statements in their job interview.

Few resume writers do this. Nonetheless, the pressure to deliver work on time, and the lack of information from a client, may be the push to make an unethical choice.

How to avoid this situation? When a resume writer asks to provide more information, provide as much as possible. Be clear in communications with the writer, and tell more than is needed.

Candidates often forget that most unlikely jobs can help them in getting a completely different job from their previous ones. Incorrect views about suitable previous jobs lead to missing time periods in the work experience sections of resumes. And the subsequent quest of resume writers to cover these missing periods.

It’s often not the position that matters, but the accomplishments of a potential employee. An engineer who forged successful relationships with clients, can apply to sales-related positions and get hired solely because of their experience. Hence, providing as much information as possible, can be beneficial both for the job seeker and for the CV writer.

Aiming high

When writing resumes, it’s important to be a great marketer. Resume writers sometimes have to make the experiences of common jobs into something that will fit a prestigious position.

Nevertheless, there are people who seem to be stuck in the comfort zone. They don’t apply for jobs above their experience level. Even if they are fully qualified for them.

One resource extraction professional was working in the industry for the past two decades. He was more than qualified for his work roles, and held more certificates than any other client I have worked with.

What roles was he aiming for? Middle management positions. He was already in middle management, demonstrated solid leadership for over a decade, and was still aiming for positions in his comfort zone.

It can be speculated that some people just don’t want the added responsibility of the senior level executive positions. That may have been the case for the resource extraction professional. For other job seekers, it’s not always the case of preferring work with less responsibility.

For a fraction of job seekers, aiming for high positions is an idea that may sound good, but will never materialise into a real desire to get them. Overcoming mental blocks that separate these job seekers, from opportunities they have the experience for, is essential.

Better jobs come with higher salaries, more fulfilling tasks. and often a better work environment. Hence, aiming for job positions which may seem to be out of reach, is often just a matter of overcoming own insecurities.

Tone down the personality

This client’s resume still makes me smile even after a long period of time. We have a capable worker aiming for management positions in customer service. He has been working at a low-level customer service position. However, this clients has very big goals. How does he spin his low-level work in customer service into something greater?

He writes that he gets delegated more responsibilities because of his good looks. No, that’s not a fictional story. A real person has had enough bravado to write this very self-loving sentence in a resume. The client could have confidently written about the metrics he has achieved, or the troubleshooting he has provided. Instead, he chose to wrote about something entirely subjective.

Not that there’s something wrong with feeling good about yourself. However, a CV is not the text type for subjective opinions. More so, if the worker doesn’t have the achievements or recommendations to base them on.

This client would have had far better job opportunities if he toned down his bravado, and aimed for professionalism. A struggling hero story sells far better than a story about an egomaniac.

Yes, talking about your achievements in plain language and under-selling yourself is not a good strategy to get hired. However, if there’s even a small suspicion that your resume will make your resume writer laugh, then, please, refrain from writing subjective opinions.

Some ego showing through may be allowed for job positions in the art and entertainment industries. A performer, for example, must have some eccentricity to stand out among others. However, for all other positions in the largely corporate world, being results-oriented (and it being reflected in the resume) is a much better strategy for getting hired.

Seeking perfection

For job seekers, desire for perfection often results in overtly impersonal resumes. Resumes without a drop of personality exude professionalism, but do not create a connection between the reader and the potential employee.

Resume creation should not be only focused on seeking out the most useful resume writing advice, and creating a CV without any flaws. An imperfect resume often can be more than enough in the eyes of recruiters.

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