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.
Actually asking for resume feedback at an interview is a faux pas. The employer isn’t there to help you with your next application!
Some major job search websites give free resume reviews, which are often more of a sales pitch than real, customized advice. More actionable reviews are available from individual resume writers. (I provide detailed resume reviews with “how to” advice for $80, or $45 with an interview coaching package.)
It can also be useful to get feedback from a variety of people, to benefit from varied viewpoints. But this can backfire.
As another fine job search blogger has written, “Be careful not to ask too many UNQUALIFIED people their opinion of the resume you just got. I asked people . . . and the information I got was misleading (making me think it was great, while it really kept me out of interviews).”
Here are some tips for getting resume input in a way that really works.
- Select people who know your industry, if possible and appropriate. People with strong writing or editorial skills can also be very helpful.
- 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 all 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 telling her or him that you’ll be seeking feedback from others. Have this conversation before you even agree to work together. 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 a broad view of what employers look for in a resume. This broad view may be more useful than direct input from one recruiter or manager, who may have individual idiosyncrasies and preferences that are not typical.
There is no resume that will impress every employer in the world, but with the right resume review/feedback and some diligent work, you can create one that will communicate powerfully to the vast majority of its readers – and open the right doors for you.