How to Spot Bad Resume Advice

Published: Apr 10, 2017

Topics: Career Readiness       Job Search       Resumes & Cover Letters       

Nowadays, it seems as though everyone and their grandma is a self-professed expert on resume writing. You can find advice on it just about everywhere you turn online. However, this advice is not always sound, and often even contradictory. One source might tell you that your resume should be chronological, while another claims that functional is the way to go. Some "experts" say to always include your GPA, while other "experts" say that it depends. With all these conflicting viewpoints and ideas of what works and what doesn’t, how can you tell which sources are accurate and which aren’t? With all that in mind, here are a few things you should keep in the back of your mind when someone offers you a resume tip. 

Is this person qualified to give resume advice?

With how easy it is for just about anyone to create a website or blog, the amount of worthless content on the web has proliferated over the years. It is more important now than ever to figure out whether the author of any article or blog post is qualified or not. Would you value an anonymous Yelp review the same way you’d value a review published in The New York Times? I hope not.

Sometimes, bad advice can come from a well-intentioned person. While your parents certainly want you to land your dream job, their opinion is likely no better than your own when it comes to writing resumes. They're not purposely trying to offer you poor recommendations, of course, but they're simply not experts at this part of the job search. Your parents are also likely not aware of how resume writing standards have changed over the past several decades. Opinions are meaningless unless they're backed by knowledge and experience.

Does this person have an agenda? 

While your family and friends may try to give you well-intentioned, albeit possibly misguided, advice on your resume, the same is not always true when you go online to seek help. Many websites out there offer free critiques of your resume; you simply upload a copy of your resume, and someone from the website gives you advice on how to improve it at no charge. Sounds awesome, right?

The problem with these services is that the person assessing your resume has a hidden agenda. The people who provide these free resume critiques are trying to sell their own resume writing services — often at a rather hefty price. They may deliberately point out flaws in your resume, even inventing some if there are none, just to demonstrate their supposed expertise and persuade you to buy their resume writing packages. Even some of the largest resume writing companies have been accused of fabricating mistakes in their initial resume appraisals just to lure in more customers. You may want to do you research and make sure that you're only using the most reputable resume writing services to assist you.

Does this person understand my personal situation?

When it comes to resume writing, one size certainly does not fit all. What may work for one person may completely destroy another person's job prospects. In order to write someone's resume, it's important to have a complete understanding of his or her background. What academic credentials does this person have? What types of work experience does this person possess? What industry is this person in? What kinds of jobs is this person applying for? These factors are vital in answering questions such as whether or not your resume should include an objective statement, or how long your resume should be. Be very wary of anyone who claims to know how to write your resume without having a nuanced understanding of your unique background.

Frank Abrams is the Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Resume Writer at ResumeGo, an online resume writing service for job seekers looking to advance their careers. Prior to ResumeGo, Frank worked as a hiring manager for Borders Group, Inc., and as a recruiter for Wells Fargo & Company, where he reviewed thousands of job applications and hired hundreds of employees.