Top 5 Mistakes I See as a Certified Professional Resume Writer

I write resumes for a living. That’s what I do. I help people get jobs, or at least I help people take what is often the first step of getting a new job. I help all sorts of people in their job search pursuits, from recent college grads who don’t have a clue to over-the-hill boomers who aren’t in sync with today’s job market.

I help everyday job seekers trying to get ahead, those seeking career advancement, those in career transitions and more. Yet as diverse as my clients are, I see the same mistakes again and again when I write resumes regardless of the client’s particular background.

Here Are the Top 5 Resume Writing Slip-ups I See as a Certified Professional Resume Writer:

1.  They Don’t Seek the Help of a Professional Resume Writer Fast Enough
I see this one all the time and it perplexes me.  Clients who decide to hire the help of a Certified Professional Resume Writer only after they have been unemployed or underemployed for a year or longer. I don’t understand why people wait so long. Paying for professional resume writing services isn’t that expensive; it is surely something people can budget for.

After all, a job-winning resume pays for itself in no time. And let me add here that not every job seeker needs to hire a professional resume writer. But if you have actively been seeking a new job for several months and your efforts have proved fruitless, then please don’t wait to get the help you need.

2.  The Grisly, Poorly Formatted Resume
Though we might not want to admit it, most people including hiring managers and those in HR, are going to pass judgment on you based on the presentation or the outward appearance of your resume. This is human nature. I am especially bothered by a resume with good content but with slipshod formatting because I believe that to be an unfortunate waste.

Sloppy resumes make a bad first impression and scream lazy; they are like showing up to a job interview with spilled mustard on your tie and parsley in your teeth. Those in HR are flooded with resumes and a poorly formatted one gives them an easy excuse to trash it before they read a word.  So if you want anyone to take you or your resume writing seriously, take some time to format it properly.

3.  The Generic Objective Statement in Your Resume Writing
I see this one far too often despite so much information out there talking about how objective statements are dated and practically meaningless. Instead, use that all-important top-of-the-page section to sell yourself in a short summary that highlights your skills, accomplishments and experience.

You can include a specific objective within the summary, “seeking a leadership position in marketing and sales,” for instance. But it should be within the larger context of your background summary. For a recruiter, few things are worse than reading, “Actively seeking employment opportunity at a good company.” To that, my response is, “Yeah, you and everybody else on the planet. Next.”

4.  Far Too Much or Far Too Little Information
I’ve worked with management-level clients who provide me a five-page resume detailing every job they’ve ever had since they graduated high school 20 years ago. On the other hand, I’ve also worked with director-level clients who provide two or three little generic sentences per job, such as

“Responsible for business operations.”
“Managed a team of 15.”
“Oversaw supply chain.”

Information such as this is no better than a basic job description and it forces the reader to guess what the person actually did, a task the hiring manager is unlikely to do. Instead aim for 4-7 meaningful bullet points per job including both descriptive and achievement-oriented information. This is not an absolute rule but it should provide some guidance in your resume writing regarding length.

5.  Resume Writing with Potentially Discriminatory Information
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I still see plenty of resumes with identifying content that should be left out, such as age, race, country of origin, religion, etc.  Clients who are not native to the U.S. may not understand the somewhat unspoken rules about what to omit and to include in a resume. And many clients who haven’t had to write resume in 20-plus years may not realize the rules have changes.

There are, however, a few exceptions when it may be okay to include this sort of identifiable information. For example, if you are applying for a teaching position at a catholic school, you may opt to include “member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church” under your association or membership section. The key here is to do this subtly and without elaborating.

86 Keys is a full-service resume writing company offering results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn Profiles and more to job-seekers of all levels, professions and industries.


Tips for the Recent College Grad Resume

If you have recently walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” with family and friends cheering you on, then congratulations! Now that you have completed college and earned your degree (the easy part!), it’s time to take what you learned from your university education and apply it to the world we all live in.

Of course, the world of work looks very different from the world of college, and judging from most of the student resumes I review, it doesn’t seem like much is taught in today’s college classrooms about resume writing.

Does Your Entry level Resume Reflect What You’re Capable of?

As a Certified Professional Resume Writers (CPRW), we receive a lot of resume service requests from recent college graduates. Many of these otherwise smart and savvy grads, it appears, have little knowledge about how to properly construct, organize and write resumes.

This is unfortunate because no recent college grad wants to be overlooked as an applicant because of an inferior resume that doesn’t really represent their capabilities.

Resume Writing Advice for the Recent College Grad:

  • College grad resumes should list their education, relevant coursework, school projects and such before their experience, assuming they have little to no relevant experience.
  • If you have significant work or intern experience, considering listing it first instead of your education. Relevant work experience trumps school projects every time.
  • If you have work experience that is not directly related to your degree (you waited tables, worked in retail, etc.) list that separately in a section titled “work experience.” Internships or work performed related to your degree should be listed first in a section titled “professional experience.”
  • Your college student resume should also include your computer skills, language skills, your quantifiable and qualitative skills, your character traits, etc.
  • Feel free to briefly list your extracurricular activities as the last line on your entry level resume.
  • With few exceptions, entry level and recent college graduate resumes should be one page in length.

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What to Omit from a College Grad Resume

When working with college students to write resumes, we frequently get asked the same types of questions about what to put on – and leave off — a resume. When putting together your job-winning resume, omit the following:

  • Your GPA, unless it is 3.5 or higher. College students are generally surprised to learn that most employers put very little emphasis on grade point average.
  • Your SAT score. See above.
  • Every course you ever took in college or every club you ever participated in. Please only include relevant courses, skills, and traits.
  • Your personal identifiers, such as your race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, country of origin, etc. These types of characterizations were once common on resumes but today they are not permitted due to discriminatory statutes.

Other Concerns of College Student Resumes

It is worth mentioning here that your entry level resume is not the place to air or explain any disputes or issues you may have had earning your degree. If you have not yet been awarded your degree and are currently in dispute over this matter with the university, do not explain this on your resume.

Simply put the name of the degree you are earning and “Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2015” or something to that effect. Lying on your resume about having earned your degree, regardless of the rationale, will come back to haunt you.



Put Some Zest into Your Summer Job Search with Resume Services

Summer is upon us, and as June turns to July, and July to August, many people push the pause button on their job search because they believe, somewhat mistakenly, that hiring and recruiting slow down during the summer months.

Yet this isn’t quite true. Is summer the biggest month for hiring for most industries? Probably not. Do hiring managers, human resources professionals take vacations in the summer? Yes, some probably do. But that is quite a big difference from the old adage that says no one is hiring during the summer.

Use the Summer Slow-Down to Prepare Your Job-Winning Resume

Recruiters and Resume Writers may concede that hiring may slow a bit during the summer. But that by no means is the same as saying it stops.

In fact, sometimes recruiters looking to fill open positions have a harder time doing so during the summer months because there are fewer applicants during that time.  So if you are actively looking for a new job, whether employed or unemployed, don’t stop your job search – or your resume writing – just because it’s summer time.

If you are passively seeking a new gig, keeping your options open just in case a more suitable job opportunity presents itself, summer may be the best time to partner with resume writing services to create that job-winning resume.

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Resume Writers Know Your Career Doesn’t Rest, Even in the Summer  

Professional resume writing services are busy in the summer updating resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and more for clients who are in this passive job seeking stage. Whatever the season, resume writers and recruiters will tell you it is better to have a resume ready when you need one than to wait until the last minute to find a resume service.

In addition to considering resume writing services, summertime can be a great time to freshen up your skills, signup for an online professional development class, or just get updated on your industry. Fun summer networking opportunities abound.

So just because business may slow down a bit doesn’t mean your career can take a respite. Whether you are in need of professional resume writing services, job coaching, or need to learn new computer skills, summer time may in fact be your best time.


Do It Yourself or Hire a Resume Writer? A Closer Look at Your Choices

It is a question we get frequently as resume writers: Do I really need to hire a certified professional resume writer or is it okay if I just write my own resume? It’s a worthwhile question, and we understand why potential clients ask us this. After all, several years ago most people, aside from busy executives, probably wrote their own resumes themselves. Updating one’s own resume was sort of a rite of passage task similar to packing up your desk for a new job.

How Resume Writing Has Changed Over the Years

Fifteen years ago, searching for a job meant scanning the local newspaper’s help wanted section with a pen in hand. You’d probably submit your resume and cover letter via mail or fax and the receiver, an administrative assistant, would probably scan it and ready it word for word. Maybe a dozen or two people would apply for the same job, and, provided you met the qualifications, you had a good chance of landing an interview.

Things have changed a lot since those days, which is why resume writing services now are more of a necessity than a nicety. Today your resume is more likely to be scanned by a keyword software system rather than an actual a person. Lack the right formatting or keywords, your resume might be skipped despite your qualifications. Resume writers know how to incorporate the right keywords into your resume so it will tag as a match for what the employer is seeking.

When It Comes to Creating a Job-winning Resume, Why Take Chances

Moreover, many job openings today receive close to a hundred applicants meaning hiring managers have to take the time to sift through lots and lots of resumes. As such, they are looking for quick and easy ways to eliminate candidates, and an inferior resume serves this purpose well. Typos, spelling errors, hard-to-read sentences, and poor organization can get your resume tossed in no time.

Resume Writers Can Make Your Resume Pop

Even if your resume doesn’t have these obvious snafus, your resume writing must sing and sizzle rather than just state your work experience. Resume services for hire can help put together a resume that works as a marketing or sales piece capturing the reader’s attention, drawing them in and ultimately selling them on why you are the best candidate for the job.

So do you need professional resume writing services when applying for jobs? You might not need resume writing services in the same way you need water, food and shelter but hiring professionals who write resumes for a living will certainly give you a measurable advantage.

How to Choose a Resume Service?

Search for “resume writers” on any major search engine and you will receive more than 40 million returns. With so many options to choose from, how does a serious job seeker go about finding and hiring the right resume writer?

Before you put down your hard-earned money for resume services, consider what you are really looking for? Some resume writing mills out there seek to pump out as many resumes and cover letters as possible in the shortest period of time. With these outlets, you don’t really know who you are working with, what their qualifications are, or how long they have been writing resumes.  Though some sizable resume writing firms are legit, others hire college students or workers located overseas to churn out resumes as fast as they can.

Certification and Resume Writing Experience Matter Most
Since you want your resume to be written by a professional, it is a good idea to see if a Certified Professional Resume Writer will be working on your important job search document. Be sure to check the official site of the Professional Association of Resume Writers for legitimacy as some sites promise “certified” writers but lack the credentials.

Though certification is not absolutely necessary, consider hiring a pro who makes a career writing resumes. The certification, in part, shows the writer takes what they do seriously and likely earns their living creating job-winning resumes for clients. A college student who works on resumes on the side for some extra spending money may or may not be up to snuff for the job.

Decide How Much to Spend on Resume Writing Services

As with every purchase, cost matters so you should shop around to get an idea of what companies charge for resume services. We’ve seen prices as low as $20 for a resume to as high as $500 (really!). Yet spending more doesn’t always equate to a higher quality product. Both too-low and too-high price points should be viewed with skepticism as one points to a lack of experience and the other, well…too much ego perhaps.

Either way, experience level, certification, cost and results should each factor in to your selection of a resume writing service.