9 Lives for Women Blog

Don’t Let Anyone Write Your Resume | February 8th, 2013

Resume writing has become quite a big business. There are nearly 3,500 resume writers listed on Linkedin alone. With so many people out of work, the services of these business wordsmiths are in hot demand.

Though my consulting practice includes resume writing for women, I’m pretty sure I have a different approach than many of my peers. I don’t write anyone’s resume…I help a lot of women write their own resume.

I know, I know–it’s easier to just hand over the task to someone else. Many people do not count writing as one of their top skills. Many have not written a resume for more than a decade.  All reasons why there’s an obvious value in hiring someone who knows how to structure and write a persuasive document that struts your stuff.

So, if you’re inclined to hire a resume writer, definitely make the call. My advice is just to be sure that you are completely involved in the writing and editing process. Don’t go to a meeting with a resume writer empty-handed, tell your career story and leave. In this scenario, after one conversation that may inadvertently exclude some key information about your career (think of how many times you forget to tell the doctor things you later realize were important), you give the resume writer the job of sifting through all your skills, strengths and career data. You let the resume writer analyze and draw conclusions about where there are common career threads. And you assume that the resume writer can tell a better story about your career.

As painful as this news may be, good things happen when you draft your own resume. Your first draft needn’t be perfect prose and may be nothing more than a few headings with bullet points about your accomplishments and experience. However poorly written this first draft may be, you’ve started the process with a document that took some careful thought and analysis to prepare. Then you and the resume writer have a good foundation for an initial conversation. You will also be in a better position to absorb advice on how to flesh out your position descriptions, how to add the metrics to prove that you were successful and how to add a summary statement that ties it all in a bow.

If you take the reins and use all the good advice from the resume writer to revise your draft, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll think of other details, skills or accomplishments you should include. You’ll have a better idea of how and why your career path twisted and turned, and you’ll immerse yourself in your career story. Most of all, being in the trenches with your resume helps you remember what you have enjoyed most throughout your career and where you have found the best fit.

So yes, hire a resume writer to be your advisor—not your surrogate self. This person can refine even a sketchy draft, help you highlight skills, draw out and give structure to your story, write parts of it, give you good words and phrases, tie everything together, make formatting a snap and generally give you the confidence that your resume meets or exceeds the standards top employers expect today.

But to really own, internalize and be able to use your resume as a sales document that fully reflects your professional self, you should definitely be in on the writing process, too.  –KAS

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