One of the first steps in getting your resume
is having it analyzed by one or more resume
companies, to see what it's lacking and how it can be improved. Any good,
honest company will offer this analysis or critique for free. Usually what
happens is you send them your resume, and within a day or two you receive a
written analysis that details the weak points of the document, and gives you
some examples of how it can be strengthened.
The problem lies in interpreting that analysis.
Too many companies today have resorted to using
the resume critique
a sales tool rather than as a helpful guide. They fill their critiques with
buzzwords, confusing rules, and flowery prose designed to convince you to
purchase their resume package on the spot. I call this "WOWing" the
potential client, because a great majority of these companies always include
a section that says your resume is lacking in the "WOW" factor. Yet they
never tell you what the WOW factor is, or how to spot it.
Here are some helpful hints for breaking down a typical resume critique.
1. Understanding The WOW factor.
Many companies utilize form critiques, and one way to
distinguish them is if you see the phrase "Your resume is missing the 'WOW'
factor." They'll follow this statement with some generalized items your
resume is missing, but they'll never tell you what the "WOW" factor actually
is. Well, in simple English, the WOW factor means your resume presents your
accomplishments and skills in a manner that's easy to read and presents your
information in a logical manner.
2. Deciphering the lingo.
Do you know what
Core Competencies are? How about action verbs? Ever heard of the STAR
strategy? Most people outside the resume industry haven't, so when companies
include these terms in their critiques without explanation it's just a way
for them to sound important. Beware of firms that do this. (BTW, Core
Competencies are your job skills, action verbs describe things you've done,
and the STAR strategy is a way to group accomplishments and actions in a
3. Dealing with criticism.
Companies use critiques to sell
resumes. Frequently, this means the analysts are told to be harsh with their
comments, in order to convince people they need resumes right away. While
the goal of any critique is to point out flaws in a resume
many companies go too far, saying problems exist where there are none, and
even using "canned" critiques that aren't adjusted to each person's resume.
They'll soften the blow with smiley faces and kind words, but in the end
they'll tell you your entire resume is worthless. Be aware of this going in,
and know that it's not personal; it's just a sales tactic.
Weeding out the dishonest companies
- Get multiple critiques: Send your resume to as many
companies as you can. You'll soon see that many of the larger companies will
send back the same critique, almost word for word. When this happens, you'll
know to avoid them.
- Ask for clarification: If you're unsure about something
in the critique, ask for further explanation of what they mean. If they
don't provide it, odds are they don't know the answer.
- Look for mistakes: I
once had a client who received a critique from another company, and in it
the analyst stated the resume needed a Skill Sets section. Yet the resume
plainly had a Skill Sets section right at the top of page 1! This shows that
some companies use templates for their critiques.
- Beware the WOW: Anytime
you see the WOW factor mentioned in a critique, beware of the company. Odds
are they're using a standard form, rather than looking at your resume