Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by lulu, Oct 2, 2012.
Does anyone have any past experience, good or bad, with using a professional resume writing company?
Not personally, but some of my students have used them.
I have very mixed feelings about the ones I've encountered. Maybe it's because the services want to take on a lot of clients and deal with them ASAP to generate maximum $$$$, but they seem to give very generic formatting/content advice that may not have a lot to do with what employers are actually looking for, or what a specific job or ad is seeking.
The ones whose work I've seen also seem to have very outdated ideas about what a good resume looks like or what it should contain.
But keep in mind that my experience is with the services that students can afford. There may be way better ones out there that are above that price range.
ETA: IMHO the responses here to questions about resumes or interviews have really good information. And that's free
I provide a professional resume writing service for both students and working people. I tailor a number of self-designed templates for skills, chronological and professional resumes and pay careful attention to formatting/visual appeal. And I match them to the job requirements (keywords and qualities) as well as ensure that they are 100% error-free - I've seen resumes done by HR companies with mistakes in them. Just one mistake can get you in the reject pile.
However, I don't churn them out - it's only part of what I do, I'd go a little nuts doing nothing but resumes day in, day out. And I'm not cheap. My prices are a bit lower than what an HR firm would charge but I can spend three-four hours on a two-page resume and the same or more on a cover letter. When I see people charging a flat rate of $30-$50 for a resume and $10-$20 for a cover letter I'm just
My viewpoint is that your future is resting on your resume/cover letter so paying a professional to do it well is a worthwhile expenditure. If you can't be bothered to get the money you need to have this done, or can't be bothered to put in the time and energy yourself, you are probably not serious about your job search.
And I think my resumes follow current trends such a verb parallelism and cover letters with bullet points (seen only recently). I see the resumes that business schools teach and also see HR firm resumes from time to time. However, the style isn't always consistent.
If I have questions, I agree with overedge that the best answers are here on FSU.
I've been thinking about this exact same thing. I'm finding plenty of interesting jobs to apply for but not getting much action from them. I'm not sure if it's the kinds of jobs I'm applying for, my experience, or my resume. Looking forward to seeing good replies on this thread.
I've never used one, but I have collaborated with co-workers and former managers to enhance mine. They know me, know what I've been good at, and know the areas where I struggle. Often, they give me the best words to use.
Get personal recommendations from someone who has used them, but I think outside help is always useful. I'm pretty much a professional writer, and as everyone needs an editor, my resume was just vastly improved by two friends who know me and my job market.
My putzy BIL used to do this for a living and judging by his writing skills in general, whoever paid him must have been pretty desperate. OTOH, he specialized in writing resumes to match government job KSAs and that's a narrow specialty.
I started doing that back in 1994 - good to know I'm ahead of the trend.
Lol. I remember doing up my resume back in 1994, too. I used a word processor, and the bullets were created by filling the lower case o in with black ink.
I do have a question, too. Since 2002, I have worked in insurance, with a one year stint at Comcast. Should I just list Comcast as an employer, and go into detail only about the insurance experience I am looking to stay in (claims), and how should I handle the three years I spent in Medicare sales?
I have had two experiences with so-called professional resume writers. One I paid and one was paid for by a company that laid me off. Both sucked really bad. I think the friend that knows your work route would probably work much better than paying a stranger, particularly if you are in a technical field like I am.
Formatting is only one of the things you need to pay attention to when writing a cover letter and resume. In addition to looking pretty, being legible, and concise, the content is all important.
The purpose of the cover letter is to get the reader to be interested enough to flip the page and look at the resume. The cover letter should state its purpose (I would like to apply for xyz job ...), provide some information about why you think you'd be a good candidate for the job, and close with "I look forward to talking with you about the job." When I taught technical writing, we had sessions on resume and cover letter writing. I always read the letters aloud (anonymously) to the class to get their reactions. We looked for essential content, formatting, and a "employer" orientation rather than an "I" orientation. It's so easy to start every sentence with "I" and not mention what you can do to benefit the employer.
The purpose of the resume is to get an interview. Most employers spend 30-60 seconds looking at the resume. You need to decide if a chronological or functional style is appropriate for what you are applying for. Most people use a chronological resume. Put your name and contact information at the top where it's easy to find. If you've just graduated, put your Education credentials next. If you have significant job experience, put your Experience first. Be sure to include a job title, employment dates (mm/yyyy), and job description that mentions keywords they are looking for if possible. Some large companies use computer programs to search for relevant keywords as a way to screen applicants. Also include Honors and Awards and Professional Memberships that are relevant to the job. Few people include References anymore - most just state that they are available on request. There just isn't room on one page to include them. Employers will usually ask for them when they invite you for an interview. Optional sections I've seen on resumes are Objectives and Skills ... personally I don't think the employer cares much about your objectives. A list of skills is only relevant if the job descriptions states they are looking for specific skills or certifications.
If you're having trouble fitting your information on one page, a skillful editor can make your wording more concise and can suggest content that you may be able to delete. As you gain more experience, you can trim off the least relevant and most distant jobs from your resume.
Be sure to tailor your resume for the job you are applying for. Rather than having a generic resume and cover letter (e.g. one size fits all), play up the skills, education and job experiences most relevant for a specific job.
Most importantly, follow up on your application a week or two after sending it. Call or email the employer to inquire if they received your application and ask about the timeframe for making a hiring decision. If you don't hear anything back withing a few weeks, contact them again. Sometimes there are good reasons why hiring is put on hold. At least you will not be left hanging with no response.
Thanks madm and everyone, you've been very helpful. I certainly plan on getting feedback, critiques and suggestions for my resume regardless of whether I go with a professional resume company, or not. If a professional company will help me produce a resume that can get me an interview, then that will be $ well spent. The problem is, trying to decide what company to go to.
My local library has a program where they review resumes, so I'll probably start there.
I have not updated my resume in the last few years- I have kind of given up on the idea of finding a better job, since I never been even called for an interview (well, since 2007 when I interviewed for my current job).
I am curious about what kind of money resume companies charge? In my previous jobs, the employer had arranged classes for the employees to learn how to write a better resume, so I never had to pay anyone for it. If I lose my current job, I may have to create a resume that would get me an interview.
For entry level they vary from $90 to $180, for professional they vary from to $200 to $250 (although most around $200) and for executive they vary from $170 to $400.
Of course, they all have different definitions of what a "professional" is or what an "executive" is as well.
That is in line with what I would charge, although professional resumes are necessarily any more than entry level if the page length and level of detail are the same.
If you don't want to spend money on your resume there are a ton of books with samples out there as well as advice and samples on the internet. If resume clients are concerned about keeping costs down I tell them that they can avoid putting time and energy into me if they put in the time and energy themselves. So long as you pay attention to details like verb parallelism, dynamic wording and an appealing template, you needn't spend any or a lot of money - especially if you have a few friends who are good with words look it over for you.
One simple way to get started is to find a resume that you like, maybe from a friend, and use that as your template. The headings, bullets, spacing, etc. will all be there and you will have an outline of what content should be included.
I helped my daughter's boyfriend create his first resume out of college, and he was able to use my daughter's resume as his template. He didn't have a lot of relevant job experience, so we expanded on his coursework, mentioning subjects he was knowledgeable about and projects he'd done. Presentations and published papers, professional societies, and certifications were also relevant. In the cover letter, he played up his communication, teamwork, and leadership skills.
You could use 'Insurance Experience' and 'Other Work Experience' as titles - although 'Other Employers' might be okay.
It is good to make all your experience count. Skills gained in sales can useful for insurance claims.
The Objectives section can be useful because it gives you a chance to state what your long term goals are. If you applying for an entry level position, it can indicate to the company that you are interested in advancement and making a long term commitment to them. You can also add 'which utilized my skills in ____ ' or 'allows me to develop my abilities in ____', which gives you a chance to highlight skills that may be very important to the employer right up top.
A list of skills can also be good if you are looking to transfer careers and have strong transferable skills, but not actual experience in the desired field.
Another category that is used sometimes in 'Profile', or alternatively 'Highlights', which lists key points in the resume. I find it useful in two cases. The first is when a resume is very detailed and complicated and a person has oodles of experience - the profile can summarize the qualifications neatly and persuasively at the top.
The second is when the resume is generally weak and/or the person doesn't have much experience. The 'Profile' can highlight skills gained through volunteer experience or as a student and highlight them in a way the other categories don't. It is 'filler', yes, but it can help get the interview.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that following an interview, you need to send a thank you note to the hiring manager. I recommend sending a gracious email within one day. It doesn't need to be elaborate. Just tell him or her how much you enjoyed the opportunity to interview for the job, fill in any information you may have told them you'd get (e.g. references), and tell them you look forward to hearing their decision soon. DO NOT ask more questions ... at this point you are done with the interview and you just have to wait. If they make you a job offer, at that time you can ask additional questions about salary/benefits, job duties, etc. Remember that you do not have to accept an offer immediately. You can tell the hiring person that you would like to think things over and get back to them with your decision within 1-2 days. If you have more interviews lined up, don't mention that as it will sound like you are fishing for a better offer and theirs isn't good enough.
Does this depend on the industry? I feel like this comes across as nagging. There are so many people applying for jobs these days that I wonder whether hiring managers want to be dealing with extra emails at any stage of the process. I had a friend who was did this and maybe it was something about the way she talked about it but it always sounded like it would just end up being irritating and potentially counter-productive to me.
Mine does this. It describes me in one sentence and then says "Selected Accomplishments Include:" and has four bullets with really name-brand accomplishments. So if they don't get to the 28 years experience and six different jobs, at least they know I can open a museum, launch an international advocacy campaign, redo your brand and maybe get you in the NY Times.
But it really is most useful for oldies like me.
Absolutely everything about finding a job depends on industry!
It is not the norm in my industry to send thank you notes or to keep your resume to 1 page, for example. In fact, it's the norm to fill up your resume with crap to make it longer IME. (And, FTR, as someone who interviews people and hires them, I hate that and it doesn't fool me that you have more experience than you do.)
I have been in this industry for over 35 years, my resume is 3 pages long, and it only covers from 1994 onward. My resume is considered very concise for my industry and I get a lot of job interviews out of it -- which means it serves its purpose.
Just a caution on this. In the past when my job included hiring, I received hundreds of resumes - and you can't believe the number that I opened only to find all the "track changes" fully visible.
Always go to a pdf when you are done. This also helps when you are sending resumes that might get printed, and you don't want your bottom line to flip to a second page (I've seen that too) or the printer to go haywire because you've used some fancy formatting that doesn't translate. And they use different paper sizes in different parts of the world, so for international applications, always format to their size (ie A4 in the UK).
In general, go with simple clean formatting and one of the basic fonts anyway - unless you are going for a visually creative job, the content should speak louder than the fancy fonts.
I've also read letters that sound familiar and lo and behold found the same copy somewhere else in my pile. While I am a believer in research and referencing, a cover letter is not the place I want to see that.
Some employers, depending on how closely they look and the type of job, will also check the properties of a document to see if it was created by the applicant or someone else.
I am old like you Haven't needed it in several years, but my most recent resume starts with a 3-bullet Professional Profile that says what kind of person I am, then the job listing (because hirers hate having to hunt for that), then Career Achievements, similar to what PRLady describes. The rest is on page 2, and there's a page 3 for certain circumstances.
A simple thank you note (2-4 lines long) is not nagging. It is courteous. And it keeps your name in front of the hiring manager. If other candidates do it and you do not, you will look less polite. If a hiring manager is swamped with daily emails, he/she can choose to ignore your note. What WOULD be irritating would be a phone call, because that would interrupt whatever the person is doing and force him/her to talk to you again.
What do FSUers think about printing a resume on colored or textured paper? Some people believe this makes your resume stand out from the average black and white laser-printed variety. Personally I have copied my resume at a print shop on nice paper (e.g. parchment) and used an off-white or beige color. As a hiring manager I would be irritated with a pastel or bright color paper. Also, printing professionally and/or on a laser printer ensures that your ink will not run if it gets wet, like ink jet ink does. God forbid that someone should spill a drop of coffee or water on the resume while reading it!
Also, what do you think about electronically submitted resumes? I agree with the post about using PDF format. This gives you total control over the appearance of the final document. If you submit a Word file rather than a PDF, you are relying on the recipient to have the same fonts as you. If your font is unusual, the resume could display strangely with a substitute font.
To be quite honest, I think it's a terrible idea. Some textured papers will jam in a photocopier feeder, which is a pain in the *ss if you are trying to run off copies of a bunch of resumes (e.g. to distribute to the members of a selection committee). Coloured paper may make it difficult for some people to read the document, and frankly I would question the professionalism of anyone who submitted a resume on a pastel or hot coloured paper.
The furthest I would go in terms of coloured paper is maybe a very pale ivory....i.e. not too far off from white. NO texture.
I agree with the PDF idea. I have had some horrible experiences with resumes submitted in Word, where something went sideways in transit with the formatting, and the document ended up with weird spacing or weird character substitutions. If that happens and the employer is using a program that scans and selects resumes based on keywords, the resume could get passed over even if its content is great, because the keyword gets missed.
I would agree with you IF that's what Objectives sections generally did. IME they don't and that's why I detest them.
Everyone says they are interested in long-term commitment and advancement. Everyone says they want to use their skills as a good communicator [which is often counteracted by the spelling and grammar mistakes elsewhere in the document, but that's another issue], to have the chance to be dynamic, hard working, a people person, etc, etc. And as someone doing the hiring, that gives me absolutely no help in determining who might be suitable and who isn't, because everyone says the same thing.
I like the idea of a Highlights or Selected Accomplishments section much better. That allows the person to show off what they can do or have done. And at the hiring end I can also tell from looking at the entries in that section whether they have read the job description, and if they have really thought about what they have that relates to this particular job.
For tech and 21st century companies, anything other than 20-24 lb bright white paper is a no-no. Why? Because they all go into the OCR scanner to be converted to data. No on fancy fonts, too. If it's not a standard font, it may not scan properly.
For the electronic resumes, if they need a special format (typically MS-Word 2007 or ASCII only), supply that format. If they don't specify a format, you can try PDF, but some PDF resumes may be rejected in the text to data conversion.
In my last 3 jobs, all converted resumes to data. The interviewer had the extract, not my "as submitted" resume. One interviewer was very happy that I had brought the real thing as his extract was very hard to read.
You should always bring at least 5 copies of your resume to a job interview as well as writing samples or other examples of your work. I would also bring a list of references with contact information in case they ask for that. Be prepared.
I find generic wording to be a problem in general. A lot of people also say that they are a 'strong team player who also works well independently'. Or in personal statements for medicine, that they are 'compassionate and want to help people'. Ect., etc., etc.
I prefer to show rather than tell, or use less generic wording such as 'able to build a rapport with clients' rather than 'strong communication skills' but when their is no experience to show the skill it can be a tough call whether or not to use the generic wording. Usually I err on the side of caution and include it, but try to find more unique and specific wording elsewhere. And some generic words are also keywords, so they have to be included.
Well, we landed a huge account at work today, but I sense thay are going to clean house. Since most of my co workers are lifers who never expressed interest in doing any other task, I may be safe, but better safe than sorry.
So, I really needs to do a good sales presentation-Convert features to benefits. Sounds like a busy weekend.
Again, this all depends on the industry and the job. Therefore, when getting advice, it's important to get advice from people in your industry ... preferably ones who actually do interviewing and hiring.
Personally, I have never needed 5 copies of my resume. At most I needed 1 for someone who forgot to bring theirs to the interview. That is because 100% of the time, the resume is submitted electronically and everyone prints their own copies and marks them up beforehand (or not.. sometimes the people interviewing me are woefully unprepared ) I generally bring 2 copies just in case, because I tend to be over-prepared.
I have never been asked for writing samples either. Never. Not even in the 80s when I was very junior. Once in a while I'm asked for code samples but that's unusual especially for a senior position. Instead, the trend is to make you write code on the board or to give you a coding problem to solve before you come in for the interview.
There's a lot of good information on here! I feel pretty good about the format of my resume; it was created by the career center at my college and I've kept it updated.
Now the next part is getting responses from some of my online job applications. I've applied for at least 15 different jobs in the last month and have had one interview. I work in retail and am looking for an entry level position in a corporate office. I'm not sure if there's a lot of applicants out there or if my experience isn't translating or what. Do you guys think it's annoying to follow up an application by phone call? I do it by e-mail when possible but there's some that I just haven't been able to find.
I am ALWAYS asked for writing samples, sometimes submitted with the resume, but my job is heavily dependent on first-rate writing. I am also asked for clips of stories I've placed with major media, which has gotten a lot easier with Internet links -- but I have to ensure the stories are still there! (I PDF major placements so I have them just in case.)
And here's a weird one..I've been asked to provide URLs of media appearances. Which I have. And then I show up at the interview and if it's a woman -- men are too afraid to look sexist -- she always says, wow your hair is different! Uh, yeah, I don't do blow-dried anchorwoman hair unless someone else is doing it for me.
Much of the advice here is great if you're applying for a job where they actually use your version of the printed resume. More an more, though, the resumes are going through an OCR scanner and into a database or are going directly from the web upload to a database. The employers query the database for applicants who match their keywords, then export the applicant data to a report that is sent to the screeners and hiring managers.
If you're applying in tech and pharma particularly, pay as much attention to your keywords as you do to your format. For your resume to pop out at the end of a query, you need the right keywords and need to repeat them. I try to include my keywords in the cover letter, in the work descriptions, and in a section called Keywords at the end of the resume.
There was a time when the worst threat to any written document was if the lawyers got hold of it. Now it's the SEO police.
While I understand such systems may be necessary for large companies hiring hundreds of people, where is the human touch? I've never applied for anything that insisted on electronic submissions (email OK, but not some program to fill out), and if I had known my application would first be judged by my ability to optimize for search, unless I was applying at Google or the like, I would absolutely not want to work for this company.
If this is how they hire, is it also how they manage people?
Forward thinking companies are getting away from the cattle call method of hiring and returning to more human forms of applicant review, looking for attitudes and qualities as much as actual education and experience. Is there a search program that can pick out those intangibles among the keywords? Sometimes out-of-the-box candidates are the best hires of all.
I don't know about that. Most of the companies I've worked for, including several that are known as "forward thinking", have taken HR completely out of the hiring process. The algorithms can pull a candidate with an MBA and 10+ years of experience, so there's no need for a human to do the initial screening. I do miss the opportunity to advance my candidacy through a phone call or email, but most companies don't even list a contact anymore. That's why it's so important to have an inside contact so that you can bypass the sorting hat.
That's exactly what I mean - sure there are some jobs that really do require a specific degree and very specific experience. But over the years, I've seen so many ads that begin with xx degree and xx years of experience in the exact same field or industry sector, when in reality you don't actually need those things to do a good job, and having those things doesn't guarantee you'll be any better than the next guy.
Or what if the program only pulls MBAs with 10+ years experience. What if there are awesome candidates who were educated in other countries, or who may not have had the means to pursue multiple degrees at A-list schools? What about people who have only 9 years experience? Or what if their experience is in another field where similar skills can be applied, but with fresh insights?
I once hired two people on the very same day. One had about 7 years experience doing exactly what the job required, and she had been to a top tier school. The other was a kid - a year out of a lesser school, with experience in the right profession but wrong industry. Naturally, given the parameters laid out by the company, the first person started at a salary well above the second.
But you guessed it - within weeks it was clear that it was the youngster who was the star - smart, a fast learner, well organized and able to take on more work than the position originally required, mature for her age and very responsible, and simply a star across the board. The other person - the one with the good school and experience - was good at her job too, but never progressed at all.
A program would have never given me the youngster among the hundreds of applications I had for that position, but because I read every one of them myself, I was able to look for clues to their attitudes and personal qualities that I knew I needed. If there's a computer program out there that can find me people with a sense of curiosity - seriously, a very important quality I was looking for in my team at that time - then I haven't heard of it.
And boy oh boy have I seen a lot of hires who came with MBAs and many years on their resumes and much fanfare who lasted no more than a few months on the job because they were completely the wrong fit for the company, brought the wrong attitudes and didn't actually have the skills required. The very definition of "looked good on paper."
I guess it comes down to how many applicants you expect to have vs. what special qualities you need that aren't easily found in a person's CV. My current company has over 100,000 employees, and we average 50+ applicants per posting. We currently have about 2,000 jobs open all over the world and most of them require specific experience. Some automation is needed, as none of our field locations have HR departments. The alternative would be to pull billable resources offline to screen resumes.
A few years ago I was looking around and noticed this, or something or similar. I had to put my experience in the company's website. This was a huge pain because it is double the work because they all ask for something different so you are putting in sometimes 4 hours per resume submission. Ack.
Separate names with a comma.