Maybe your resume isn’t getting you as many interviews as you’d like. You want to find out why. Who do you ask? recruiters are usually too busy to give resume advice, and the compliments you may get from hiring managers at interviews don’t tell you much. In fact, asking for resume feedback at an interview is a faux pas. The employer isn’t there to help you with your next application!
Once you decide who ask, how can you make sure you get feedback that’s actually helpful?
The following suggestions will help you find out what’s working in your resume, and what you need to change.
How to ask for resume feedback:
- Some major job search websites give free resume reviews, which are often more of a sales pitch than real, customized advice. More useful reviews are available from individual resume writers and resume coaches, such as myself. In most cases there will be a charge for this service, but it’s worth it to gain a professional perspective.
- If you are thinking about hiring a resume writer, caveat emptor–buyer, beware!
- Know anybody who’s been on a hiring committee? Your sister-in-law who’s a manager, or your friend who works in human resources? They’re good people to ask, even if they’re not in your field.
- Of course, ask colleagues in your own field, as long as you’re not worried about them “spilling the beans” to your current boss.
- Make sure your reviewers know the requirements of the job you’re targeting. Show them a written job posting if possible.
- Ask them these questions: “If you take just 10 seconds to skim this resume, what’s your first impression? Then, after reading it more thoroughly, what impresses you most? And what could be better?”
- Take their opinions with a grain of salt. If you show your resume to five people, you will hear five different viewpoints, some of which may directly contradict the others! Look for common themes and use your own judgment.
- If you are working with a professional resume writer, be collaborative by informing them in advance that you’ll be seeking feedback from others. Discuss how best to bring the outside input into the agreed-upon writing process. If the process includes a draft before the final resume, it’s usually best to gather input at that point, rather than when the final product has been delivered.
Keep in mind that skilled resume writers study surveys of employers’ preferences in resumes, so they have the broadeset view of what employers look for in a resume. This perspective may be more useful than direct input from one recruiter or manager, who may have individual preferences and idiosyncracies that are not typical.
There is no resume that will impress everyone, but with the right resume feedback and some diligent work, you can create an effective resume that will communicate powerfully to the majority of its readers – and open doors for you. (This article was first published in 2014 and has been updated.)