Some of you might or might not know that I spent a good deal of my professional lifetime writing résumés for people. I executed documents mostly for business and creative folks in the fashion industry – mid-to-top-level management – but also for other professionals (lawyers, medical doctors, psychiatrists/psychologists), students, and more. Early on I got a reputation for taking badly written single pieces pages with random data and turning them into viable, strong job-search materials that got people jobs, and more often, made them think about who they were, what they really did, and where they wanted to go in their careers.
Talk about a gratifying gig –I worked for myself after “apprenticing” myself in a large national résumé writing company that at the time was the only operation that offered this service. Though the owner was truly nuts to think this kind of service was viable and profitable, he gets a lot of credit for this vision. He had three types of people working for him – 1] sales people who were between good sales jobs; 2] writers and other artists (I replaced the timpanist!) who needed a gig to make money – the writers to practice their craft; 3] people like me, both writer and salesperson, able to sell the product and know what they were talking about re: language, organization, grammar – what a concept!! Today there are hundreds of these companies; some owned by individuals who want to write and do not know what else to write so they can make a living. I am guilty of sorts at being that kind of résumé writer, but have to say this form taught me how to write barebones. My late-bloomed college coursework and truly innovative teachers brought poetry and other artful skills to my execution of language, with a greater critical thinking to my reading and writing.
The other truly unique fulfillment of this work was the ability to provide people with a sense of themselves they have never owned. I’d see light bulbs go off every time I finished a project (still do). It was as if for the very first time these individuals saw their worth. I was adamant they tell me the truth about their work and the things they achieved. One woman client, a truly remarkable person was a death camp survivor who father was a well-known composer in Europe in his time. With a background mostly in charitable work she felt she was not capable of finding “real” work. Her humility was terrific but over the top; she never saw the value of the work applied to other circumstances. In interviewing her deeply, the document I wrote for her enabled me to flaunt her true skills, allow those reading her résumé to best understand how her confluence of skills could work for their companies. Like many clients she became a repeat customer; I also got a lot of referrals from my clients because the work I did was constructive.
The most frequent line I heard after finishing a résumé for someone was: “I’d hire me!!!” In my long-time career in this area, I’ve created some great tools, and executed ideas that made employers think about the people they were hiring. The notion that people began to understand their worth was key.
Fast forward to this facockta (Yiddish for really crappy!) marketplace.
I am appalled at the continual contradictions so-called HR experts currently make in all their articles on résumé writing. Yesterday I read an article touting the top five résumé mistakes specifically stating that Times Roman as a job-search document font was passé, that résumé writers need to check into more interesting fonts; today the same “expert” claimed TR as the perfect font to avoid overdesign.
HUH???!!! (BTW, I hate Times Roman and use Garamond whenever possible or Ariel Narrow — elegant or straight-forward is the way to roll.)
Instead of over-writing the topic, these guys ought to make sure they read their own previous posts so they do not look like their agenda is more important than the information they give to poor job seekers. Looking for work is hard enough these days…doing it wrong in the eyes of such authorities is daunting especially for older workers who have real knowledge and capability yet are subject to ridicule by no-nothing “experts” who only have opinions — they have no research, no documentation and no clout in this field – they themselves more likely are unemployable.
I get that résumé styles have changed — but we seasoned (a deadly word on a résumé I’m told but I am not 12) résumé writers are slow to make changes suggested by people who cannot consistently back their opinions. Most articles I read now about résumé writing provide no real data; they merely show the view of the article writer; I find even employers are telling people things they themselves do not understand. My feeling is that no one knows how to get a job right now because those on the other side don’t know who they want to hire. OR why.
It is disconcerting, disheartening and disgusting.
I have always told clients to communicate their skills and accomplishments on résumés to propel their careers/job searches. That started 30 plus years ago — why is this suddenly the right view???? I cannot be the only person who functioned in HR that thought this. I used to chat up my recruiter friends to get their opinions since they were in the trenches, too, trying to help companies fill positions and candidates get jobs.
An old client, Annie, called me about a year ago asking me to redo her résumé. I had not — as with many of my clients — seen her in quite a while. The original I wrote for her was a really great template résumé: she was able to tweak it until she needed a new POV, a new fresh take on her career. This is where I shine. She’d submitted her documents to a website proclaiming to find jobs for professionals in the $100K plus bracket. The writer for that group wrote a critique of her resume that upset her so much she came running to me to redo the document – she DID NOT give him her business. Why? Because the idiot was hell-bent on telling her what HE thought about her résumé – not how he could intelligently fix it. He was rude, obnoxious and so desperate for her business that it never occurred to him to give her solutions. I probably charged her more than he would have but then I knew what to do and how to do it to get her results; we’ve been working together for 20 years and she trusts me.
Last summer a potential new client, a young engineering student in the Midwest found my website and called to get writing tips for his résumé. We spoke for two hours because I was anemic and all I could do was talk copiously (surprise!!!). The conversation was a pick-me-up for me as I had been lolling around doing nothing, horribly bored despite my exhaustion. It also educated me further to the idiots on parade claiming to know anything about HR. At a job fair each employer told Jake something different about his résumé – none of them told him anything of value; they basically made stuff up. I call this reinventing the wheel. Poor kid was so confused. He lucked out finding me – tho I was not looking for work because of my illness I opted to do his document because I knew it’d be simple and help him. Turns out the changes I made to his résumé got him the internship desired and the employer in turn hired him full-time after he graduated – I know because he took the time to call to tell me…
I vent verbally and rant frequently on this subject –it’s not personal; it is about all the writers on this topic who are misinformed and who misinform their readers. People need jobs and if 10 people tell you 10 different ways to write a résumé or how to conduct a job search then that proves there is no consensus and or intelligent thinking about the subject. I find this bothersome: to jobseekers; and to those of us who aim to truly help jobseekers find new paths.
It’s 2011 — don’t let the idiots get you down!!!