January 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM
"A bad resume won’t kill or maim you, but it is harmful to your job search and career growth."
Where’s My Great Career?
Patty Armstrong is a career counselor and educator on a mission to help people of all ages find careers they enjoy.
Flickr user: jeferonix
It makes me want to scream! Once again, I had a client come in with a nearly useless resume he created according to the instructions of his English teacher. He was wondering why no one was calling him for an interview. Aside from not addressing the job he was seeking or listing the skills he’s developed in his new career training, the resume had no dates for his education or experience -- the teacher told him that dates are no longer important to list. Excuse me? Maybe in creative writing, but not in a job search. He would've been better served getting instruction from human resources staff -- who might not have PhDs in English and extensive knowledge in vocabulary, grammar or writing. But at least the resume would be considered for employment, instead of thrown out as incomplete, irrelevant and ineligible for consideration.
Pretty resumes with photos, fancy fonts and interesting anecdotal experiences might meet your English class assignment, which is to learn the concept of resumes. Apologies to English teachers all over, for whom I have the greatest respect. I have a degree in English myself and am the daughter of two English professors. But English teachers are not career development professionals and they are not tuned into what is expected in today’s job search process. Resumes from English class are only first drafts of a professional resume suited for job search and educational opportunities. Resumes created by well-meaning friends or community members, or even resumes that landed you a job five or ten years ago, are not likely to suffice either.
Just because you are well educated and articulate does not mean you can create an effective resume without help from a seasoned career development facilitator with a track record of getting people hired. I can sew, but I wouldn’t dare create my own business suit. I leave that to professional designers and tailors who are tuned into today’s fashion trends, so that I can rest assured that my clothes don’t look strange or out-of-date. I can write, but I wouldn’t publish an article or book without the assistance of an editor to can catch my grammatical errors and to provide me with guidance on what sells in today’s market.
You don’t have to spend money to get expert help. But you should use good consumer skills to figure out if the person who offers you job help is going to be helpful. First of all, this person should be currently or working or very recently have worked in a college career center, an employment assistance company, or a Department of Labor office (in New Mexico it's called the Department of Labor New Mexico Workforce Solutions). Ask your resume “expert” how many people have been connected with jobs based on the resumes they created for others or advice they've given.
We’ve all heard the caution “Please Don’t Try This At Home” for various dangerous stunts. And car commercials tell you that the impressive driving on screen is conducted by a professional driver on a closed course. A bad resume won’t kill or maim you, but it is harmful to your job search and career growth. Get professional help for a professional presentation – and to seriously compete with other professionals in your field.