A Resume Word to the Wise

Last Saturday morning my husband and I went out to breakfast in a crowded restaurant and I happened to overhear part of a conversation at the table next to ours. A woman and her husband were breakfasting with an elderly friend or family member and using their meal time to get caught up on family news.

The woman was explaining to her elderly companion that someone they both knew had asked her to help him with his resume so he could apply for a job at a local health care company. The woman lamented that she knew next to nothing about resumes and thus didn’t know how to help this person.

Her husband then chimed in, “You don’t need to be an expert to write a resume. Just go on the Internet and find a resume of someone who’s in the same field as you. Choose a layout that you like and just copy it. That’s all you need to do.”

It took all the restraint I could muster not to insert my two-cents worth into their conversation. I couldn’t do it then, but I can now:

  • Sure, you can source new resume layouts all over the web, and some of them are quite good. But how overused are they? How many other candidates you will be competing against will use the same layout?
  • Even more importantly though, you should know that content is king. Layouts provide readability and visual branding, to be sure, but your resume’s content is what will get (or fail to get) you the interview.
  • Is your Career Summary as strong as it can be? Is your resume key-word optimized? Are your achievements as targeted as possible? Have you included your strongest skills, values, and personality traits? Have you portrayed your work history in the best way? Have you branded yourself successfully in your resume and cover letter? Have you made your Unique Value Proposition clear?

If you don’t have the funds to invest in a professionally designed resume, at least make sure you “copy” truly stellar resumes. If you’re going to base your career’s future on someone else’s resume, then make certain you choose the best possible example to follow.

After all, your future salary is at risk.