I amJob Search Success System fortunate this week to share a guest blog from Mary Elizabeth Bradford, award-winning creator of the Job Search Success System. She warns, “This article contains some “tough talk” and will probably offend some readers.” Since her article did not offend me and in fact rather inspired me, I’m posting it here with Mary Elizabeth’s blessing! Remember as you read this article, as I pointed out in my article What Do Recruiters Want in a Resume? Answers Within, you only need to impress one person with your resume–and that’s the person who hires you!


“Hi There Networking Contact… What Do You Think of My Resume?”
(& Other Things You Wish You Never Said)
How to Network Without Losing Your Confidence or Your Mind
By Mary Elizabeth Bradford

*Warning: this article contains some “tough talk” and will probably offend some readers.

Sometimes I will have a client call me and share that while networking, they showed their new professionally designed resume to:

  1. Their friend or business mentor whose opinion they trust
  2. A powerful networking connection
  3. A human resources person
  4. A recruiter

And my client posed the question, “what do you think of my resume?”

Well, a large amount of the time, if you have had your resume professionally written by an experienced and certified writer, the response will be positive.

But sometimes they will interpret your question as an opportunity to attack your resume using all their powers of critical analysis – in the name of “helping you” (gee, thanks).

If you have ever been in this situation, you know the result – your confidence is shaken; you begin to doubt yourself; the focus becomes that there is something “wrong” with your resume. You call your writer demanding to know why they used that particular color or font because Suzie who just got a job in the HR department at Target last week knows well that this font color will keep you from realizing your dreams – or at least ever landing a job at Target.

Okay, I am being a little sarcastic, but isn’t that the weight that we end up putting on all these opinions we open ourselves up to? Some people are very caustic; they will tell you with authority they absolutely know what they are talking about (I have seen this to be true especially with College Career Counselors and recruiters. No offense – just stating fact).

So who, or what are you to believe?

  • In a job search, common sense tells us we must preserve our energy, our positive attitude and our confidence. Rather than asking everyone who will give you 5 minutes what they think of your resume, the wisest thing to do is ASK A CERTIFIED, EXPERIENCED RESUME WRITER. This does not mean asking THE LADDERS or JOB FOX, who will give you a free “resume critique,” and no matter how wonderful your resume is and how much you invested to have it properly done, they will most likely tell you it stinks and you need to pay them $700 to rewrite it. No, I mean going to Career Directors International and looking up the award winning writers, the Certified Writers, the Writers who have their work in reputable Resume and Career books and/or the writers who may specialize in your field. And although this does not completely shield you from conflicting advice, it does dramatically improve your chances of getting a professional and discerning critique of what your resume truly needs (or might already have) in order for you to achieve your career goals.
  • Please, refrain from asking everyone what they think of your resume. This opens you up to criticism from people who are may only be partially (at best), qualified to critique how your resume lines you up for your next career move. Instead, get a clear focus of direction on what you want including industry, position title and your driving motivators like ideal companies and positions, your compensation range, where you want to live, and how much you will travel, to name a few things. Couple that with a little research on growing and stable industries.
  • Don’t say you are “wide open” to explore a wide range of opportunities, because in today’s job market, you have to demonstrate your value very specifically (this is part of the whole “branding” thing you hear everyone talking about). You need to demonstrate that you know what you want. This builds your network’s confidence IN YOU. You don’t have the luxury of “being wide open,” so please start taking control of your situation and embrace a self-directed and entrepreneurial approach to your job search. This is what is working in today’s job market.
  • Once you have your game plan down regarding your focus of direction and where you want to steer your career, ask your friends how they can help you with that. Don’t ask them to help you find a job and don’t ask them who is hiring and don’t ask them what they think of your resume! This is a waste of your time! Learn how to network so that you stay in control of the conversation. I think the reason people hate job searching the most is because they feel they have to take such a passive, submissive role in it. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! You don’t have to feel hat-in-hand, begging for a job. I teach my clients in my Job Search Success System how to network in a confident and dignified way and they love it. It preserves their sanity, confidence and gets them great results! There is absolutely no reason why you have to roll over in complete submission just because you are in a job search.
  • Do not discount the power of critical feedback! You may LOVE your resume and so do 50 other people, but I have seen it time and time again that a single negative critique will leave you doubting everything you ever thought was true! You cannot afford to “go there” in your job search! It’s not the most exacting comparison, but will 50 people look at a piece of famous art from an abstract expressionist and have the same exact option about it? I think you know the answer.
  • If you have not had your resume professionally written and you want someone to critique it, your best and safest bet is to go to Career Directors International and look for help and support there. Generally speaking, resume writers are a heart-centered group (especially women) and they find genuinely helping others get what they want in their careers deeply satisfying. You have a great shot at talking to a person who really cares and can really help you at CDI. Writers who take the time to obtain difficult certifications and pay money to keep them current every year generally take their career as seriously as you probably do. And in an unregulated industry such as Career Services, you need that insurance to help protect your interests and investment.
  • If you HAVE had your resume professionally done, then I will share with you what I share with all my clients, which is this – you need 3 main things in your job search to be successful:
    • A clear focus of direction.
    • A great resume and value proposition (cover) letter that supports your focus
    • The right job search strategies

As a general rule, after you have paid a certified writer to analyze your career situation and craft you a resume to get you where you want to go, your entire focus should be on the right job search strategies. I am primarily focused on showing my clients how to go direct to companies by tapping the hidden job market because it works so well, but every job search is different and some job search strategies will work better than others. You may take a multi-pronged approach to your job search strategies, which could include recruiter, venture capital and/or private equity firm distributions, direct mail, targeted networking, working through associations, and learning how to use social networking like LinkedIn to land interviews, to name a few. [These strategies are all taught in the Job Search Success System, an easy, affordable way to get the advice you need).

In closing, I have not seen it beneficial for you as a job seeker to hold up your resume and state “WHAT DO YOU THINK?” Not because I as a writer am trying to avoid criticism, nor because I am trying to protect other professional resume writers. And I am not stating that there might indeed be things in your resume that need improving. But if you want the right advice, your safest bet is to go to the experts. Doing otherwise may derail you and detract from your ultimate goal.

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