As someone that *has* a resume consulting business, obviously I believe that having your resume written professionally can be a major benefit overall. That being said, everyone that *has* a resume should ideally learn how to write their own. If you do decide to pay someone else, what should you look for?
I’ve seen more bad advice given by Career Counselors regarding resumes than I care to comment on lately. So how do you figure out if you are getting good advice? The trick is going to be finding out how close they are to the tools that store your resume (databases such as Monster, CareerBuilder, corporate websites, etc.). Applicant Tracking Systems, the databases that store resumes for both specific and generic jobs, have evolved in the last five years as technology has gotten more advanced. Here are a few questions to ask:
1) What Applicant Tracking Systems are you familiar with? (Some of the better known ones out there are Taleo, Unicru, WebHire, Prohire, iCIMS and Vurv.) If they don’t give you at least *two names* of systems you can Google to verify, they aren’t in touch with today’s technology and probably their methods are out of date.
2) What keywords would you recommend for my industry/discipline? Recruiters run searches based on very specific keywords. For example, in recruiting they should mention things like: ATS, applicant tracking, screen, interview, source, negotiate, account management, OFCCP, and maybe visa. Every job and industry has keyword concepts and “buzz” words that are part of what a resume should reflect. For example, recently I saw a request for someone to work on a biotech resume. I don’t feel confident enough in my knowledge of this field to follow up on the request.
3) How long should my resume be? This is a tricky question, because there is still a debate going on about how long is too long. I’m of the general opinion that two pages is OK if you have more than 5-7 years of experience, but many people still counsel one page is better. The best rule of thumb is whether your career includes more then two or three companies. Each entry takes up at least 2-4 lines just for the “entry” (employer, location, dates, job title, white space, etc.) If they categorically say “one page”, ask them how they structure the document to achieve this. If they say less is more, then seriously consider if they know what they are doing.
4) Do you suggest an objective or a summary statement? In today’s recruiting and resume “style” format, Summary Statements are preferred. Objectives are left over from the 80’s. They can be effective but again, if the person says “I always use an objective”, they may be seriously out of touch with the current market.
5) How would you advise me to prepare for our first meeting? How long should I expect our first meeting to last (can be live or over the phone)?If they don’t tell you to bring a few job descriptions, a list of your job history for the last five years and don’t tell you to set aside at least 45 minutes, they aren’t planning on giving you full attention and tailoring your resume to *you*, your aspirations, your goals.
6) Should I use a skill based resume, or a chronological version? *If* you are in job or industry where you work with *multiple clients* at the same time using the same skill, the answer should be skill based or combination. If you have been working for single employers most/all of your career, the answer should be reverse chronologic with a skills *section*. If they only answer they give you is “skill based” then they don’t know the current technology and what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.
I cannot advise on prices, as this varies widely based on location, but you should get an upfront fee in writing, and it should include one document (.doc, .pdf) *and* one .txt version for copy/pasting to databases.
Finally, you should have an understanding of *how* the consultant constructed your resume based on the experience.
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