Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do I need a professionally written résumé?
A lot of people think hiring a resume writer is a big waste of time and money. If you’re one of these people, keep reading. I promise it’s well worth your time.
Unfortunately, many people settle and use resume templates (aka cookie-cutter resumes) because all they have to do is plug in their info. The one thing they don’t realize is that employers are looking for more than just basic information.
A resume writer committed to their field is also committed to seeing you get results from the work you do together. The resumes they write go WAY beyond listing your present and past employers with a laundry list of your core duties and responsibilities. And, a professional resume writer doesn’t use boring resume templates either.
Employers want to know what value you bring to the table. They want to know how you’ve contributed to companies you worked for and what contributions you’ve made for your current employer so far.
A resume template doesn’t guide you on how to include this kind of information in your resume. You’re unique, and likewise, your resume should be too.
An employer’s time is valuable and limited. Going through countless resumes with the bulk of them not having the kind of information they’re looking for is not only daunting, but it gets old fast. Your resume has to stand out if you want to get their attention—period.
If your resume doesn’t grab their attention quick, they have no problem tossing it out. Why? Because there’s a pile of other resumes on their desk waiting to be reviewed.
Employers wade through the “fluff” resumes and focus on the ones that present value and are achievement based. Template or cookie-cutter resumes, starting off with the infamous objective statement, or making general fluff statements like “possess excellent communication skills,” “fast learner,” “team player,” etc. doesn’t cut it.
Your resume needs to demonstrate your value, emphasize your skills and abilities, and include career achievements and contributions you’ve made to present and past employers.
Career achievements are key because they reveal your strengths in so many areas like problem solving, project management, time management, team leadership, employee relations, and communicating effectively just to name a few.
Keep in mind that any achievement you mention in your resume you must also be able to support. Anyone can claim to have achieved great things, but not everyone can support or prove that they actually did them. Be prepared to support your claim!
Employers appreciate candidates who know what they have to offer and have taken the time to go beyond submitting a template or mediocre resume. It sends the message the candidate understands the employer’s time is a precious commodity and they have no intention of wasting it.
Now you know what goes into a well-written resume and what motivates potential employers to put you in the “keep” pile. The question now is…does your resume meet the criteria? If not, seriously consider working with a professional resume writer.
You’ll quickly find that hiring a resume writer is completely worth it. You’re doing more than just hiring someone to type up your resume or do simple updates. You’re investing in you, your career. It’s an opportunity to land interviews for positions you know will prove to be personally and financially rewarding. It’s well worth the investment all around.
2. Why does a résumé cost so much?
There’s a story that Picasso was sitting in a bar in Paris and a woman approached him and asked if he could do a quick sketch for her on a napkin. He drew her portrait and handed her the drawing — and a request for a considerable amount of money. She was outraged. “But it only took you five minutes!” she protested. “No, madam, it took me all my life,” replied Picasso.
When you have your résumé created by a professional résumé writer, the time invested in crafting a custom document is not limited to the effort required to gather information about your job target, previous experience and accomplishments, education, and value to your next employer — although this is significant. It’s not limited to the several hours of time (and gallons of blood, sweat, and tears!) it takes your writer to carefully choose each word and phrase for maximum impact.
While there is significant time spent gathering and synthesizing the details of your career and designing a wholly unique and customized résumé, the value of your professionally written résumé originates in the skill of the writer — talent developed through study of effective résumés, training in modern communication techniques, and thousands of hours of writing experience.
You are also benefiting from what Picasso recognized as his biggest asset — a lifetime of knowledge and experience. Your professional résumé writer knows how to paint a custom word portrait for you that is a snapshot of your career progression and ambition, designed to attract job interviews. More than a few jobseekers have turned a single sheet of paper — their professionally written résumé — into the job of their dreams. Will you be next?
3. Why are résumés written without pronouns?
Résumés use a unique style of writing to emphasize brevity in order to maximize the reader’s time. This is especially important since the average résumé receives fewer than 30 seconds of the reader’s time upon first review.
Many people find this style of writing a bit confusing, so here is an explanation about “résumé speak.”
• Résumés use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I” / “me” / “my”).
• We use present tense for activities you currently perform, and past tense for past activities and achievements — particularly for older positions on your résumé, but also to describe responsibilities you once performed in your current job, but no longer do.
• To emphasize brevity, we remove most articles (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would hurt the readability of the sentence.
• We write in a strong, active style, emphasizing action verbs (“direct” / “manage” / “lead” / “conduct”) instead of passive descriptions of activity.
• Most often, numbers one through nine are spelled out; numbers 10 and above are expressed as numbers.
Thus, this paragraph is incorrect:
“I am a dedicated professional with extensive experience in corporate accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting. You will find me to be consistently successful in providing accurate information for management decision-making. I can develop and implement accounting training programs to increase staff efficiency and productivity. I am also an effective communicator with the ability to work with individuals at all levels of employment.”
Here is that same paragraph, rewritten in “résumé speak”:
Dedicated professional with extensive experience in corporate accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting. Consistently successful in providing accurate information for management decision-making. Develop and implement accounting training programs to increase staff efficiency and productivity. Effective communicator with the ability to work with individuals at all levels of employment.”
If you have any specific questions about the language used in your résumé, please let me know! Otherwise, please be assured that I have written your résumé to conform to generally accepted principles of résumé writing.
4. How long should the résumé be?
The answer is a bit of a riddle: Long enough to convince the hiring manager to interview you, and not a word longer.
In the days before online résumé submissions and applicant tracking systems, the one-page résumé myth was born. Today, that myth persists, but surveys and conversations with hiring managers consistently find that a one- OR two-page résumé is appropriate, as long as the information being shared supports the length. Thus, most new college graduates should have a one-page résumé, as they don’t have the depth of experience of a senior executive, who could have a two-page résumé (and perhaps even three).
However, for every “rule” there is an exception. If the information you are including on the résumé will help the hiring manager, it should be on your résumé. Thus, a college student who has worked numerous internships, completed significant classroom projects, held student leadership positions, had relevant work experience, and participated in industry associations could easily have a two-page résumé.
No matter the length of the résumé, the focus should be on highlighting the candidate’s accomplishments, not basic work responsibilities. Use section headers — such as Work Experience, Education, and Awards & Honors — to make information easy to find.
What should be immediately apparent to hiring managers, no matter the résumé length:
What sets you apart from other candidates
Your key strengths and accomplishments
What kind of position you’re targeting
If the résumé passes the initial screening, the additional detail provided on the résumé will help the hiring manager decide whether to schedule an interview.
5. Why do I need my résumé in multiple formats?
We provide your résumé in multiple formats because each format has a different function in your job search.
Here is a brief overview of the formats you will receive, and how each is used:
The Microsoft Word format is the most versatile. It is an editable document, so you can make changes to your address and contact information at any time. This format is best used when your résumé is requested by a hiring authority or recruiter, and can also be uploaded to career web sites when a Microsoft Word (or .doc or .docx) file is requested. Most applicant tracking systems can read Word-formatted documents, as long as they do not contain graphical elements such as columns, lines, tables, or charts.
The ASCII text format is required for submission on many online websites. This is the format you will use when you’re required to copy-and-paste your résumé into a text block. The ASCII format is designed for this request, as it removes all formatting problems.
Adobe Acrobat PDF. This format cannot be edited, but provides you with an original résumé file that retains all of the formatting and fonts as it was originally designed. Unless you need to edit the Microsoft Word file, this will be your best bet for printing résumés to submit by snail mail and in person. Some applicant tracking systems can accept PDF files; however, make sure that is the case before uploading the document.
6. Why does my résumé look different in Microsoft Word than it does as a PDF?
Because of differences between computer systems and software compatibility issues, you will likely experience formatting issues that cause your Microsoft Word résumé to look different from the Adobe Acrobat PDF file of your résumé.
This is normal in Microsoft Word as the software adapts to the printer and formatting settings on the recipient’s system. Most employers and recruiters are equipped to make the necessary changes to get your file to work with their systems. (If they express formatting concerns to you, you can offer to send them an Acrobat Adobe PDF instead.) Because each user’s system is different, we cannot provide technical support.
We recommend copying the files onto your hard disk and also creating a backup (on CD, DVD, or flash drive). For confidentiality reasons, do not copy these files onto your employer’s computer system.
Using Your Adobe PDF File
You will not be able to make changes from this file; however, if you open it, you will be able to print a copy of your résumé that can be used as an “original” and printed on résumé paper, or the PDF can be used for producing high-quality photocopies, if printed on a laser printer. Double-click on the PDF file. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for FREE from www.adobe.com.
Using Your Microsoft Word Résumé
First, open Microsoft Word on your computer. Then, choose “Open” from the “File” menu and locate the file. Make any changes necessary to correct font substitution and line spacing problems. (See below.) Note: You must have the Microsoft Word software application installed on your computer to manipulate the Word file.
Common Fixes to Problems with Your Word Résumé
1. After saving the file to your hard drive, open Microsoft Word FIRST. From the “File” menu, choose “Open,” and select the file from where you saved it on your computer.
2. For font substitutions, highlight the affected text and choose a font from your computer system to use instead. If the font that was substituted is too big (for example, your one-page résumé now runs 1-1/2 pages), go to the “Edit” menu and choose “Select all.” Then choose a smaller font (for example, Times New Roman). See if that fixes the issue.
3. If the résumé is running just a couple lines onto an additional page (or pages), adjust the document margins. (If the existing margin is 1 inch, change it to 0.9 inches and see if that makes a difference.) If that doesn’t work, change the margins again or choose a smaller font.
Sending Your Résumé as a Microsoft Word E-mail Attachment
Open your e-mail program. Address an e-mail and indicate in the body of the e-mail “Attached is my résumé, prepared in Microsoft Word. If you would prefer to receive my résumé as a text-only file, please contact me.”
Click on the icon to “attach file” and select the file.
Using Your ASCII (Text-Only) Résumé
This is the version of your résumé you should use when you are using a career web site that asks you to paste in a copy of your résumé. Have your text-only file open (first open your word processing program or text editor, then choose “open” from the “file” menu). Copy the text from your résumé and paste it into the space provided on the web site.
7. Isn't it best to have a one page résumé?
There is no “rule” that a résumé should be only one page. In fact, there are many instances when a multi-page résumé is not only appropriate, it’s expected.
Length is not the only consideration for a résumé’s effectiveness. Yet, the one-page résumé myth persists. Jobseekers are being misled that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a résumé that is longer than one page. That’s simply not true.
While recent research shows that a résumé will be read for only seconds when it is first screened, the first review is only to determine if it is a match for the position. If the jobseeker is considered a serious candidate, the résumé will be read again.
Jobseekers who believe a HR professional won’t read a two-page résumé should stop and consider the résumé screening process. The résumé screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with four or five people to bring in for an interview. If a candidate with 5-10 years of experience tries to condense that to fit an artificial one-page limitation, you’re asking that HR person to make a decision about you, based on what amounts to a few paragraphs.
Given a choice between a well-written two-page résumé or a cluttered one-page résumé which omits notable accomplishments in the interest of saving space, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer résumé.
If you submit a two-page résumé and the person reading it decides you’re not a match for the job, he or she will stop reading. But if you do seem to fit the job requirements, that person will want to know even more about you. A well-organized two-page résumé can actually make it easier for the screener to do his or her job by allowing him or her to easily determine if you’re a good match for the position.
So why does the one-page myth persist? Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page résumé. However, not all recruiters share this preference. There are certain recruiters who say they will only read one-page résumés. However, recruiters are responsible for placing fewer than 25% of candidates in new jobs, and not all recruiters subscribe to the one-page limit. If a particular recruiter requests a shorter résumé, you can always provide a one-page version to him or her.
When hiring managers and HR professionals are surveyed about résumé length, the majority express a preference for résumés that are one page OR two pages — the general consensus is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.”
College professors also share some of the blame for perpetuating the one-page résumé myth. Some professors — who have no connection to the employment world — believe “their way” is the right way to do things. They provide a template to their students and require advisees to use that format, even if the person is a non-traditional student who has an extensive work history or career path that sets them apart from other job candidates with similar educational backgrounds.
It would be unusual for most 21-year-old students to need two pages to describe their education and work history, but it’s not unrealistic to expect that an accomplished graduate might have internships, projects, activities, and honors that would make it necessary to exceed the one-page length.
If you doubt the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, ask any professor to see his or her résumé. Chances are, it will be at least two pages long to include consulting work and works published, in addition to classroom teaching experience. But professors call their résumés “curriculum vitas,” so they don’t have to follow their own one-page résumé limit.
Résumés submitted online are also less likely to be affected by the one-page résumé myth. That’s because the one-page format is unique to the printed page. Résumés uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits. Approximately 30 percent of résumés are only stored electronically. They’re never printed out, so the screener never knows it’s more than a one-page document.
Length does matter. Your résumé should only be as long as it needs to be to tell the reader exactly what he or she needs to know to call you in for an interview … and not one word more.
Here are some guidelines for deciding résumé length:
• If your résumé spills over onto a second page for only a few lines, it’s worth editing the text or adjusting the font, margins, and/or line spacing to fit it onto one page.
• Don’t bury key information on the second page. If the first page doesn’t hook the reader, he or she isn’t even going to make it to the second page.
• Don’t be afraid to go beyond two pages if your experience warrants it. Senior executives often require three- or four-page résumés, as do computer programmers and many professionals (physicians, lawyers, professors).
• Traditional college students and those with five years or less of experience should be able to fit their résumés onto one page. Most everyone else, however, can (and should) use one page OR two.
• Make sure that everything you include — regardless of length — is relevant to your job target and what the hiring manager will want to know about you!
8. Why does my résumé use this specific sentence structure?
Résumés use a unique style of writing to emphasize brevity in order to maximize the reader’s time. Many people find this style of writing a bit confusing when they first encounter it, so I wanted to clarify for you how résumés are written.
Résumés use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I” / “me” / “my”).
We use present tense for activities you currently perform, and past tense for past activities and achievements (particularly for older positions on your résumé, but also to describe responsibilities you once performed in your current job, but no longer do).
To emphasize brevity, we remove most articles (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would hurt the readability of the sentence.
We write in a strong, active style, emphasizing action verbs (“direct” / “manage” / “conduct” / “develop”) instead of passive descriptions of activity.
Most often, numbers one through nine are spelled out; numbers 10 and above are expressed as numbers.
If you have any specific questions about the language used in your résumé, let me know! Otherwise, please be assured that I have written your résumé to conform to the generally-accepted principles of résumé writing.
9. Why do I have to pay up-front?
Your résumé is customized just for you — no other jobseeker has the exact combination of experience, education, knowledge, and skills that you possess. Consequently, your résumé is a unique document designed to tell your personal story to capture the attention of the hiring manager and generate a request for an interview. Just like a custom suit, the résumé cannot be “tailored” to any other jobseeker. It tells your story, and only “fits” you.
It is customary practice in the résumé writing industry to collect payment in full, in advance, before beginning the résumé project. Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to collaborating with me to design powerful documents for you to use in your job search, it commits me to setting aside the time and energy to focus on your project. I only work with a limited number of clients at any one time, in order to provide you with personalized service.
Because of this commitment, the fees for your résumé development cannot be refunded once we begin working together, as you are not only securing my time and attention to support you in your job search, but you will also receive access to my proprietary processes that are designed to help you land interviews and job offers.
10. Can I Get A “Generic” Résumé?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to create an effective “generic” résumé that will be truly effective in helping you land your dream job. A résumé that is not tailored towards a specific type of position is a “career obituary” and tells the story of the past — not the potential you have to offer to a prospective employer and how your specific experience, education, and skills can benefit the company or organization.
An interview-winning résumé spells out the specific value that you have to offer the prospective employer without including additional, irrelevant experience. To create such a document, it is important to understand the specific needs of that particular role — and, in many cases, tailoring the résumé for the needs of a specific company.
With this in mind, it is important for you to identify a specific job title that you are pursuing, and even more helpful to collect 3-5 job postings for this type of position, even if these job postings are no longer active and even if you do not wish to apply to this specific company. Being able to incorporate relevant keywords while describing current and past work experience is one way to demonstrate value to a prospective employer. An analysis of relevant job postings helps make this possible.
Note, however, that you can craft multiple versions of your résumé in order to target different types of job postings — assuming, however, that your relevant experience and education is transferable to the different types of positions being pursued. In contrast, however, please note that you are limited to a single LinkedIn account, so it may be necessary for your LinkedIn profile to be a bit more “generic” than a customized résumé used to target a specific job type.
11. Why Do You Charge More Than Other Résumé Services?
Each résumé writer sets his or her own rates, depending on skills and specialization, certifications, knowledge, and experience. The price for your project will also depend on the level of the project — a résumé for a senior executive is obviously priced different than a résumé for a new college graduate.
Fit is most important when choosing a résumé writer to work with you. You want a résumé writer who you are comfortable working with, because developing your résumé is a collaborative process.
Working with a résumé writer is an investment in your career. Most jobseekers who work with a career professional find a job faster and earn more at their next job than they’re currently making. So, remember, it’s not about price — it’s about value. Make sure your résumé writer is the right fit for you!
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