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WE COMMUNICATE YOU

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Services

We’ve just begun to develop this page.
General questions will be answered by our Resumé Glossary—especially questions about
terminology, types of resumés, and resumé technology.
For information about the process of working with us, see the Process page.
For our business policies, see the Policies page.

 

 

 

Tips

OUR #1 RESUMÉ TIP:

• Our #1 resumé tip is: Beware of resumé tips. (And beware of supposed conventional wisdom.) Don’t ignore them—a lot of the tips and conventional wisdom are pure gold. But you have to think critically, because much of what’s written about resumés (and about job hunting) is just “recycled” from other sources—which were themselves recycled from older sources, and so on.

Some of it has become badly outdated since it was first written. That doesn’t stop it from being recycled. And a lot of it also gets taken badly out of context in the process. For instance, some of the conventional resumé advice (like “keep it on one page”) was originally aimed at junior job-seekers, and never did apply to more experienced people.

A lot of resumé tips were originally do-it-yourself advice, meant to show an untrained person how to produce a mediocre but safe resumé. Professionals can cut things a lot finer, and get better results. It’s not a question of breaking the rules. It’s a question of knowing all the rules—editorial, typographic, and technical—, knowing when they apply and when they don’t, and knowing the best tradeoffs when the rules conflict, as they sometimes do.

Many of those who recycle erroneous, outdated, or out-of-context resumé information are just writing filler articles for Web media, newspapers, or magazines that want to fill the “news hole”—the space between the ads—as cheaply, quickly and uncontroversially as possible. The cheapest, quickest, and (in many people’s eyes) the safest way to fill space with words is to copy what other people are saying. The Web makes this easier than ever. You just change the words around a bit so no-one can say you’re copying. When people who don’t understand the subject matter change wording and combine information from different sources, the information degrades further. The result is sometimes a travesty even of the outdated information they were copying.

And since bad information is so widespread, people you know are likely to recycle it to you when they give you advice. That includes friends, relatives, and, unfortunately, also many recruiters, counselors and teachers who’ve never explored the subject beyond the surface, and so have no idea how unreliable most of the easily available information is.

We’ve built our resumé services, procedures, and technology standards on our own independent research, and on years of experience in writing, research, typography, and technical production. You’ll see a lot of that research and expertise summarized on this site.

 


 

TIPS ON SHOPPING FOR RESUMÉ SERVICES

• If you shop around, you’ll find that there are no general standards for anything in the resumé business. Products, services, and terminology will vary from one resumé service to another. And it’s “buyer beware” all the way—there are no credentials or affiliations that are guarantees of quality. The resumé business is wide open—there’s nothing to deter sleaze, and there’s no bureaucracy to get in the way of top performers. Some of the biggest are shoddy, some of the shoddiest are “certified,” and some of the best are successful small shops who see no reason to get “certified”.

Size is no guarantee of quality. Neither are affiliations (“partnerships”) with nationally-known job sites, media, or employment firms. When these firms look for resumé services to “partner” with, size is an essential criterion—they’re getting a cut of the fees, so they want a “partner” who does a large volume of business.

Resumé writers who are really good can do better working for themselves than they can working for a big resumé mill. But there aren’t many such writers. That’s why your best bet may be a small firm—often a one-man operation. (Of course, that’s what we are.)

But there are plenty of small and shoddy operations too. A lot of people think that there isn’t much to preparing resumés, and many of them go into the resumé business—because it’s an easy business to get into if that’s your attitude. There are even people making money showing others how easy it is to open a resumé service.

It’s also pretty easy to get “certified.” Of the several certification programs out there, the most demanding represents only about a college quarter’s worth of coursework. (So few people completed that program that the organization that offers it stopped listing the graduates on its site.) We’ve seen some awfully bad work from certified resumé writers. You’ll see it too, soon enough, if you actually read the samples on the Web sites of resumé services.

So if you want to get your money’s worth, you’ll have to put some effort into shopping. You’re going to be spending at least several hundred dollars on something that could make or break your job prospects, so it makes sense to shop carefully.

Before you call anyone to ask questions, get on the Web and compare a number of resumé services, of various types. We’d say at least a half a dozen, better a dozen. It will probably change the way you think about getting a resumé prepared. Use your own judgment. Don’t rely on second-hand guidelines, or wait for someone to tell you something that makes you feel right. If you do, you’re the natural prey of people who devote their efforts not to producing good resumés but to taking advantage of popular misinformation (there’s lots of it about job-hunting) or to manipulating people’s weaknesses.

• Resumé services vary widely in their range of service and the contents of their standard packages, and also in price and in value for money. $50 is likely to get you just the information that you yourself provide, with minimal modification, slapped into a one-size-fits-all resumé template, with no quality control. But we know of at least one nationally-known service that will charge $800 for the same thing, perhaps with a scripted phone interview thrown in. Elsewhere, $200 to $900 (depending on your experience level and your field) might get you a careful, individual consultation and a well-written and well-formatted resumé, crafted and tweaked to give the best presentation of your background for your specific job market. Or it might not. At the low end of that price range, delivering quality resumés for experienced people is not sustainable. Again, shop carefully.

• Job-hunting consultants who comment on resumé prices sometimes say that you won’t get anything worthwhile that involves real individualized attention for under about $150. But this is a minimum price, which pertains to very junior job-seekers with basic resumés and fairly simple job-hunting situations.

When a resumé service has one-size-fits-all pricing, that should be a red flag. You should expect a resumé service’s prices to vary depending on your level of experience. The longer you’ve been working, the more information there is that has to be interpreted and visually presented in your resumé. And as you climb higher in the ranks, there’s more need—and a bigger payoff—for carefully tailoring your presentation to your market and your specialty. That means more work, and more time—and good resumé production involves several specialized skills, and is priced accordingly. It’s not cheap.

You will probably need to discuss your project with the resumé service before they can give you an exact price.

Your own background and experience isn’t the only factor that determines the price. Is the resumé preparer simply working over your existing resumé, or are they helping you create a resumé from scratch? Gathering all the information needed to work from scratch takes more time and should cost more. And if they are interviewing you and helping you explore your background for selling points, and determining your objectives so as to tailor your resumé for your desired path, that takes a good deal more time and work (and skill).

Another major factor is letters. A good cover letter has to be carefully individualized, and allow tailoring for each job application. That takes time and skill, and should cost extra.

And there’s more. Will you be able to make changes in your resumé documents yourself, or do you have to go back to the resumé service for revisions? Will you get your resumé only in Word (.docx) format, or will you also get it in plain text format, which (if properly done, and not just converted from Word) works a lot better than Word for pasting into online forms? Will you also get the other formats that are sometimes needed: .doc, .pdf, and .rtf?

So, when comparing prices, be sure you also compare what’s being offered for the price.

Whatever services are being offered, some resumé specialists will put more time and knowledge into the job than others. That has to be reflected in the price, and people with exceptional skills command a high price for their time. On the other hand, however, a high price doesn’t guarantee a good resumé.

• There’s lots of terminology hype about resumés at all price levels, including the high end. If you compare carefully, and do the research (as we have), you’ll find that even basic terminology is often used inconsistently or just erroneously, that simple things (especially technological novelties) are often given high-sounding names, and that terms and concepts sometimes continue to be used for years after technology has made them obsolete.

A comprehensive case of hype, jargon, and obsolescence combining and synergizing over a period of years to create massive confusion is the history of the term “scannable resumé.” We give a detailed history on our More About Scannable Resumés page.

Another common example of terminology hype is talk about “functional” versus “chronological” resumés. The “functional resumé” is a killer myth that can wreck your job search. When people call us and say that they’ve sent out lots of resumés and gotten no response whatever, the usual reason is that they’re using a “functional resumé.” See “The Functional Resumé” in our section on Resumé Myths, below. Better yet, just keep reading and read through the whole Resumé Myths section as well. You’ll probably be quite surprised. And it could be some of the most profitable reading you’ve ever done about job hunting.

• Beware the “free resumé critique.” These are usually just a sales tool, and the advice is usually worthless. See our detailed discussion of this in the section on Resumé Myths, below.

• If you’re shopping for a resumé service, you’re looking to hire someone to help present you to a prospective employer. You should look closely at how they present themselves to you. We wrote, designed, and produced this site ourselves. It’s meant to show you something about our skills in writing, editorial design, graphic design, technology, and quality control—and about the way we’ll work on your resumé. (To see what our actual resumés look like, go to the Work & Testimonials page.)

 


 

Resume Glossary

We’ve just begun to develop this section. There’s a world of misinformation out there about anything that pertains to finding a job. This includes some “Killer Myths”—misinformation that can totally wreck your job search even if you do everything else right. Many related topics are covered our Resumé Glossary.

 

KILLER MYTH #1: “KEEP IT ON ONE PAGE” (and how long your resumé should  be)

The one-page resumé is the most pervasive and misleading myth about resumés. “Keep it on one page” is good advice for someone who’s just entering the job market, or for people who have only a few years of experience in jobs with fairly straightforward responsibilities, or many years of experience in some blue-collar jobs. In some fields, a significant number of the people who read entry-level or junior resumés will literally throw out any resumé that runs longer than one page. For those job seekers, we write one-page resumés.

But for other job seekers, few things will sink your job search faster than a one-page resumé.

When you get much beyond the entry-level or semi-skilled stage, your resumé will eventually go onto a second page. Depending on your field, once you’ve had five or ten years of experience, you’ll usually need two or three pages, and in some specialties sometimes more. In most fields, once you’ve acquired some experience, you just can’t get enough on one page to get across everything that qualifies you for a responsible job, that makes you stand out from other applicants, and that covers all the likely possibilities for what a given employer will be looking for in a resumé. A smart, experienced hiring manager or HR person, who is looking for someone to take on important responsibilities in a difficult job, is probably going to toss a one-page resumé in the trash.

For job-seekers with substantial experience in responsible positions, an effective resumé is one that starts out with key points and a professional appearance, to give an employer incentives to keep reading, and then backs up those points and that appearance by setting forth all the concrete background an employer might want to see, fully and clearly but without wasting words or space. An effective resumé should also facilitate both scanning for main points and reading in detail—each of these is critical at different stages of the hiring process. “Too long” isn’t a function of how many pages, but of how efficiently the information is conveyed.

Unfortunately, since everyone has heard the “keep it on one page” line when they were starting out, and since it’s applicable to so many people even later in their careers, that advice is all over the place. It’s repeated constantly by people who “read it somewhere” or “saw it on TV.” It’s usually taken out of context, by people who don’t realize that it only applies to less qualified job-seekers. Many of the people who repeat it without knowing what it really means are just writing filler articles for newspapers, magazines, or Web media. Some of them write books, too—a lot of people will buy anything that promises to help them find work, so there’s a huge and safe market for half-baked resumé advice. In any case, they’re just copying what they saw somewhere else. Low-end resumé services also sometimes talk as if a one-page resumé is all anyone needs—because a page of obvious bullet points is all they’re capable of doing (especially at bargain-basement prices). Because it’s in print (and on the Web), “keep it on one page” is also repeated out of context by career counselors trying to help adults who are farther on in their careers.

For this reason, “keep it on one page” has become an extremely widespread myth. This means that occasionally you may run into a hiring manager or HR person who believes it too, even when they’re hiring for highly skilled positions in fields where resumés normally run two or three pages, or even more. They may persist in that belief for a while, because few people will dare to correct them. We’ve seen this happen even with managers in specialties like I.T., where conventional wisdom is that resumés should run from two pages for junior people to five pages for managers. That shouldn’t be surprising. If you’ve been around for a while, you undoubtedly know that by no means all hiring managers are competent in their fields, and that the connection between HR and reality is not always tight. And in any case, everyone has some blind spots.

There are limits to resumé length, of course. Three pages is the practical maximum for most resumés. I.T. resumés may run to four or even five. (In fact, we hardly ever go beyond three even for senior I.T. resumés. But we like to think we write more effectively than most, and we can certainly get more on a page than most without having it look crowded.) Professional or academic CVs, which list publications, seminars, etc., can go to six or eight pages if there’s enough material.

Your resumé doesn’t have to keep growing in length with the years. As you add recent experience relevant to your evolving goals, you’ll just condense or weed out the older information that either isn’t relevant to your current objectives, or gives more space than is needed to experience that is duplicated in your more recent job history. (You still, of course, have to show that your experience in key areas goes back a ways.)

The important thing to remember is that no competent manager or HR person ever bounced a resumé for a mid-level or senior position just because it ran to more than one page. And on the other hand, it’s the smartest and most knowledgeable managers who are impressed by full detail (with no wasted words, of course). In your job search, you’ll be running into incompetent people and smart people. Which group do you want to please?

KILLER MYTH #2: THE “FUNCTIONAL RESUME”

A very common example of terminology hype is the talk about “functional” versus “chronological” resumés. Functional/chronological is a mildly interesting theoretical distinction, and can help you learn about how to approach the treatment of certain elements within a resumé. But in practice, virtually all good resumés will use a combination of the two approaches—with chronology very much dominant. (Professionals in healthcare and other fields may use purely chronological resumés.) The art is finding the right balance for each job-seeker, and using each in the right place in the resumé. However, some nationally known and highly certified resumé consultants have taken to touting resumés that are almost purely “functional”—that is, they list most or all major skills and achievements separately from your job history.

HR people and hiring managers HATE these resumés, since they don’t back up your claims with a concrete, verifiable history, don’t allow readers to form a picture of what you did at each job, and give no idea of how recent is your experience in any particular subspecialty. When people call us and say that they’ve sent out lots of resumés and gotten no response whatever, the usual reason is that they’re using a “functional resumé.”

The so-called resumé “experts” who tout functional resumés didn’t anticipate this rather obvious problem, and don’t seem to have gotten the word that their resumés are being tossed into the trash. That’s probably because these are people who, though they may have started out writing resumés professionally, now make their real money from lecturing and selling books. (That’s one of the economic realities of the resumé business.) They clearly have no serious professional writing or editing background, and don’t do research to see if their practices actually work.

Don’t take our word for it:

Check the LinkedIn discussion thread on this topic, for recruiter feedback about functional resumés. You can also Google the following words: functional resumes don’t work. You’ll see many discussions of that topic, and if you read the comment threads you find, you’ll see many comments from HR people to the effect that functional resumés get thrown immediately in the trash.

KILLER MYTH #3: OUTLOOK.COM, HOTMAIL, MSN.COM, LIVE.COM (why you shouldn’t use them)

Do you tell prospective employers to contact you at an Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN.com, or Live.com e-mail address? If you do, there’s a small but real chance that the employer will respond to you, but Microsoft will block their e-mail. You’ll never get the e-mail, and will never know it was sent. The employer may never know that you didn’t receive it, and even if they do, they’re not likely to make any further effort to contact you.

This is a problem only with Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN.com, and Live.com—all of which are owned by Microsoft. This can affect all e-mails sent to Outlook, Hotmail, MSN, and Live e-mail addresses—not just responses to job applications. No other e-mail services arbitrarily block e-mails from other reputable e-mail services or ISPs like this. This has been going on with Microsoft e-mail services since at least 2003. It seems to have gotten worse since about 2012. Microsoft’s changeover to Outlook.com (in 2013/2014) hasn’t had any effect on this problem.

The e-mails that are blocked are legitimate e-mails. They’re not spam, they don’t come from suspicious sources, and they aren’t being transmitted through suspicious e-mail services or ISPs (Internet Service Providers). The sources and ISPs are not on any of the blacklists used by IT security firms to identify spam sources. Only Microsoft is blocking these e-mails.

A large number of reputable, long-established ISPs and their customers are affected. These include major ISPs such as Comcast and GoDaddy.

All of a sudden, an entire company (in one case, an entire university) finds that e-mails sent to people with Outlook, Hotmail, MSN.com, or Live.com addresses aren’t getting through. Sometimes the sender gets a bounceback message. Sometimes they don’t even get that, so they don’t know the e-mail was lost.

What this means for you is that if you contact a prospective employer using your Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN.com, or Live.com address, it’s possible that the mail they send back to you will be blocked. This is an especially serious problem for job inquiries. That’s because if an employer who sees that e-mails sent to you are bouncing, they will probably make no effort to re-contact you. Sometimes the employer may not even be notified that the e-mail bounced. Even if they do re-contact you, the same problem will recur at every stage of the hiring process, with every person from that company who e-mails you.

This isn’t happening to everyone with an Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN.com, or Live.com address. But it’s happened to a lot of people, it’s been going on for a long time, and there’s no reason to expect it to change soon. With all the trouble you take over a job inquiry, with all you’ve got riding on it, why take a chance with something like this?

The problem is definitely at Microsoft’s end. There is nothing you can do about it, except to use another address for e-mails, an address that isn’t managed by Microsoft. There is nothing that the employer can do about it, and if there were, there’s no chance that they’d take the trouble. There is nothing that the ISPs and non-Microsoft e-mail services can do about it. ISPs are constantly contacting Microsoft about this. Each occurrence of the problem is eventually fixed, but Microsoft is very uncooperative, they can take a very long time to fix it (weeks, often months), and the problem constantly recurs. Microsoft claims that there is a simple technical solution that ISPs can use. But it obviously isn’t working very well in practice.

Microsoft says that the blocking is caused by false alarms from their spam-detection systems, which automatically block certain servers used by various ISPs. Microsoft acknowledges that they’re false alarms. Nobody else’s spam-detection systems have this problem. Since the same problem has persisted for more than ten years, it obviously reflects either a deliberate policy of Microsoft, or an astonishing degree of technical and organizational incompetence over a long period of time.

SOLUTION: We strongly recommend that, if you use a Hotmail, MSN.com, or Live.com e-mail address, you switch to using a Google gmail address, at least for your job search, and for other critical e-mails to total strangers who won’t take any trouble to deal with communications problems.

Gmail addresses are also good to use for signups and communications with Web services and merchants, who may sell every bit of customer information they get their hands on, and spam any e-mail address registered with them. Gmail addresses are easy to change to escape this mail. By that time you need to do this, any potential employers won’t need to use that address to reach you. They will either no longer be total strangers, or they will have forgotten you. HR rarely bothers to look at old files. It is extremely unlikely that an employer will contact you several years from now on the basis of an e-mail you send them today.

It’s also handy to have a backup address in case there are problems with your main e-mail address.

We have our reservations about Google, but at least gmail doesn’t arbitrarily block emails the way Microsoft does, so anything the employer sends to you at a gmail address will get through. (Also, anything you send from a gmail address won’t be blocked even if the recipient has a Microsoft address. To the best of our knowledge, Microsoft has never blocked mail sent from gmail addresses. Others who have looked into this problem say the same thing. Apparently even Microsoft doesn’t dare mess with that large a user-base.)

We don’t recommend Yahoo because they have occasional problems of their own. But if you’re already using a Yahoo address, there’s no reason to change. If you have an AOL address, keep in mind that this dates you—AOL hasn’t been popular for a long, long time.

For your main e-mail address (which you’ll use with your friends, and give to an employer after they’ve hired you), the best solution is a paid, private e-mail service, which makes its money by serving you, rather than by spamming you, pushing ads at you, selling the information you provide, and wasting your time with efforts to hook you onto signing up for features that cost money. Paid private e-mail services are available alone, or in combination with Web hosting services that can host your Web site. They can be quite affordable.

We’re in the process of replacing the private e-mail/hosting service that we use, and we don’t know of any specific providers that we could confidently recommend to our customers. From what we’ve seen so far, it may be that, in this field, smaller is better—small operations, perhaps even one-person operations, may provide better service than the big firms. Keep in mind that a surprisingly large number of hosting firms—big and medium-sized, including the smaller end of medium-sized, and many well-known names—are owned by a company called Endurance International Group (EIG). EIG does not seem to have a good reputation, and the quality of service at the firms they acquire is said to fall off badly post-acquisition. (For a list of their holdings, look up their entry on Wikipedia.) If you’re willing to do some digging to find a private hosting service, and have some tolerance for under-the-hood technicalities, we’ve seen some interesting discussions on the forums on http://www.webhostingtalk.com.

Don’t take our word for it:

Do a Web search for the following phrase (include the quotation marks): “Reasons for rejection may be related to content with spam-like characteristics”. (This wording is from Microsoft’s standard bounceback message.) You’ll see many postings by IT people reporting this problem. Many will be from 2012 or later.

There’s a 2014 thread on this at webhostingtalk.com.

In 2007, Dan Goodin, an internationally-recognized IT security expert, wrote an article about this in The Register: “Hotmail’s antispam measures snuff out legit emails, too.” It’s exactly the same thing that is occurring now.

And back in 2003, CNET reported on exactly the same problem: “MSN blocks e-mail from rival ISPs.”

THE LADDERS

Some cautionary information on TheLadders.com: their claims that their listings are 1) exclusive and 2) limited to $100K+ jobs are, shall we say, widely disputed. Some job hunters recognize this but still think them a worthwhile job search tool. Others who have tried them emphatically condemn them. So if you’re thinking of using The Ladders, do your homework first. And if you do use them, be very skeptical. Above all, we don’t think you should ever sign up for any paid services with them—or with any other sites, for that matter (including LinkedIn).

One thing there is total agreement about is their resumé writing service. If you’re working with us, hopefully you will agree that you’re already well taken care of as far as resumé services go. But if you’re considering having them do your resumé—and especially if you’re thinking of sending our resumé to them for a “free critique” as a means of checking our work—then you really should check out the links below, to find out why we won’t pay any attention to what they say.

Don’t take our word for it:

Google “theladders.com complaints” and “ladders resume writing reviews.” To get the full story, read the comments in the discussion threads you’ll find, as well as the articles.

And here’s a link to a LinkedIn discussion of The Ladders resumé writing service:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/career-education/resume-writing/CAR_RSW/962870-22726024

ON-LINE JOB SITES (what they’re good for and what they’re not)

You’re better off sticking with the free sites, and staying away from any paid on-line job search tools. Indeed.com is a good free job site, which can pick up a few postings from the career pages on corporate websites that the other big job sites miss. Monster.com is still worth checking. So is CareerBuilder.com, but they aren’t as good as they were when they established their reputation—there are a lot more “spam” listings for bogus opportunities like work-at-home schemes. Simplyhired.com is also well spoken of, though we haven’t looked into them much. After you’ve been to two or three big job sites, you’ll see that (except for Indeed.com), they all have pretty much the same postings. There are also lots of industry-specific job sites. Some of these are major resources, but many others may have so few job postings they’re not worth bothering with.

Be very skeptical of any online job-hunting tools, paid or free. Even if you don’t spend a lot of money on them, you could find yourself blowing a lot of time for which you have a better use. Even if a service isn’t worthless, it may well not be worth the time it takes to use. Many such sites are designed to keep you on-line and involved for as long as possible to increase the chance of your signing up for something that costs money—or just to increase the ad exposures or page views on the site, which may be a major source of revenue for the site’s owners.

One thing you should never do, except as an absolute last resort, is to apply for a job through a third-party job site like Monster or CareerBuilders. They have their own agenda for anything you send through them, and that adds a lot of complications to the processing of your application. This increases the chances that some glitch will leave you in doubt as to whether or not your application even went through. This can happen fairly often on third-party job sites. If you see a job you want to apply for, you’re much better off going to the employer’s company site and applying there. Sometimes a posting on a third-party job site will send you directly to the employer’s site, and if that happens, good. But if you don’t see any information in the posting that enables you to find the employer, try Googling some distinctive key phrases from the posting, along with the job title. There’s a good chance you’ll find the same posting elsewhere, either on the employer’s site or on a third-party site with information about the employer. If you don’t, wait a few days and try again.

Keep in mind that in most fields, only a tiny fraction of jobs (on the order of one or two percent) are filled through online job sites. The percentage that are filled from resumés posted on these sites by job seekers, rather than through direct responses to postings, is probably a lot smaller. Employers and recruiters don’t, as a rule, go looking on the Web for resumés. Often they don’t even look for resumés in their own files. The normal procedure for most job openings is to post an ad and wait for job seekers to contact them. Employers and recruiters will, it is true, actively search for people in certain specialties—but those people are highly-qualified people with very specialized skills, the kind who are accustomed to getting unsolicited job offers and calls from headhunters. If you don’t get unsolicited offers from good employers, you’re not one of these people. Even in these fields, hiring and job-searching are normally through networking, or through research in trade media, etc. In some fields, it may not be the best employers who search out people on the Web.

For this reason, unless you’re in the sought-after category, we’re doubtful about posting your resumé on job boards. (I tried it for a few years when I was freelancing, and would never do it again. Never made a dime that way, though the same resumé got me plenty of work through shoe-leather sales efforts. In any case, most of my new clients came through word of mouth.—Ken.) If you do post your resumé, don’t put your address or phone number on it. Any resumé posted on the Web will generate a lot of spam e-mail. Anything at all posted on the Web will be in the databanks of criminals and sleazebags within days or even hours.

So third-party online job sites are probably not going to produce a job for most people.

But there are some things third-party job sites ARE good for:

One thing job boards are very good for is general market research—getting an idea of what sort of jobs are out there, finding out what skills and qualifications employers are looking for at the moment—and also about the latest hiring buzzwords. All of this can be very handy, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a few years.

Even though little hiring is done through third-party sites, HR people like to post jobs there. It makes them look like they’re covering all the bases, and doing something cutting-edge. It probably helps with affirmative-action compliance, since it shows that they publicized the opening. In any case, their bosses probably wouldn’t understand if they stopped using these sites.

It can, in fact, be worth posting a resumé on an employer’s career site. (It can often be conveniently attached to applications made through the site.) But even there, don’t expect too much from it. HR people may not look through posted resumés on the company site even when there’s an opening to fill. The usual attitude in HR is to make the job seeker do all the work. They won’t get “proactive” unless people with the desired skills are extremely scarce—and maybe not even then. Also, the site may be less than functional, and features on company career sites that alert job-seekers to openings may not work very well—especially if the position you’re looking for is not directly involved in producing the employer’s characteristic products. (In other words, job-seekers with general skills such as finance, marketing, or IT may not be well served.) So if you’re really interested in a particular employer, keep an eye on their career sites even if your resumé is on file there. If you don’t do so already, schedule twice weekly searches of third-party sites and of the career sites of employers you’re particularly interested in. Learn to use the search keywords that give the best matches for you, and write them down in a computer file to help you make the search a quick and routine chore.

In sum, the Web can offer some nice tools, but there’s an awful lot of hype and snake oil out there—beware of anything that poses as in any degree a substitute for a good reputation and diligent personal digging. (And a good resumé.) A lot of the time people spend on Web job-search tools might often be better spent taking care of other things—or just taking a break, to keep you relaxed, alert to opportunities, and ready to jump on one when it comes up.

FREE RESUMÉ CRITIQUES

If you bring your car in for an oil change, and they tell you that you need hundreds of dollars worth of additional work, you’d be suspicious, wouldn’t you? They might be right, of course. Cars, like resumés, often do need a lot of work, especially when they haven’t had professional attention for a while. But if you’ve owned a car for a long time, you know that this sort of thing is a common scam. And knowing that, you’d be particularly suspicious of a mechanic who offered free oil changes to all comers.

It’s the same with “free resume critiques.” These are usually just a sales tool—the people who offer them give you an awful review of whatever you send—spouting lots of buzzwords and bogus “rules”—hoping you will then hire them to fix it up. (TheLadders.com is notorious for this.)

If you let someone sell you resumé writing on the basis of a free critique, try an experiment. Wait a few months and send them the resumé they did for you and ask for a free critique. They will tell you it’s terrible (and it probably will be) and offer to fix it up for a fee.

There are doubtless some resumé services who offer free resumé critiques in good faith. But those critiques are apt to be superficial—anything more would take more time than a serious business can afford to give away. The practice of offering free resumé critiques is not well regarded among high-end resumé writers. In fact, most resumé services don’t offer critiques even as a paid service, because providing a really useful, thorough, professional critique is more work than just re-doing the resumé, and they’d have to charge more for it. Even so, it wouldn’t cover all the points on a given resumé: nothing less than a book-length critique could possibly cover the hundreds of little details that go into creating an effective resumé.

 

 


FAQ

STANDARD DOCUMENT FORMATS

Even the common resumé and letter document formats (like Word and plain-text) can be tricky. If you do your own format conversions and aren’t familiar with the technology, it’s easy to send something that’s unreadable at the employer’s end. (Even many resumé services produce documents that are less than fully functional.) We’ve done the research and testing, including cross-platform and cross-version issues. In particular, our plain-text resumés are formatted to meet the special requirements of this medium. With professionally formatted documents, you can devote your attention to your job hunt without taking time out at a critical moment to produce a resumé or letter in a format you don’t have and may not be familiar with.

Word—(That is, Microsoft Word.) The most widely used word-processor format for resumés, often requested by recruiters and Human Resources departments. We provide Word files in both .docx and .doc formats. (For more information on the Word format, and about when and how to use it, see the entry on Word in our Resumé Glossary.)

Plain text (also known as ASCII)—The standard for text-only resumés, essential for pasting your resumé into an e-mail or into forms on Web sites.

(Note: Some resumé consultants still refer to plain-text resumés as “scannable resumés,” “Web resumés,” or “Web-ready resumés.” But they have nothing special to do with the Web, and are NOT the same thing as HTML resumés that can be displayed as Web pages. For more information on the plain-text format, and about when and how to use it, see “plain-text” in our Resumé Glossary.)

PDF (Portable Document Format)—The PDF format lets you send a graphically formatted resumé, with all the visual features of your Word or Typeset resumé. In some situations within certain industries, Word documents aren’t welcomed, but PDFs are. HOWEVER, you should never send a PDF to someone unless they specifically state that they prefer it to Word. The applicant-tracking systems used by many employers are not compatible with PDFs. As a rule of thumb, send PDF resumés only to decision-makers outside of HR who are accustomed to using PDFs in their daily work. These will most likely be hiring managers in certain fields, including engineering, IT, and graphic arts. If there’s the slightest doubt, don’t send a PDF unless the person you’re sending it to actually says he prefers PDFs over other formats.

PDF is also, in one sense, the most stable format: almost anyone can print out a PDF, even if they don’t have a word processor, and it will always look exactly the same no matter what fonts, software, or operating system are used by the person you send it to. PDFs can be read on Windows, Mac, Linux, several other Unix flavors, and on some handheld devices. (For more information on the PDF format, and about when and how to use it, see “PDF” in our Resumé Glossary.)

RTF (Rich Text Format)—A universal word processor format. Some employers may prefer to receive resumés in RTF format, rather than Microsoft Word. (This was more common before Word 2007+, with its new .docx format, became standard. Before then, .doc Word files were notorious virus carriers.) RTF documents are also compatible with a wider range of software than are Word documents. One thing will always be true: since RTF is a standard, non-proprietary format (unlike Word) you will always be able to find some software that will open your files, no matter what Microsoft or anyone else does five years from now. As of 2014, that’s the main reason we send RTF versions as part of our standard package. (For more information on the RTF format, and about when and how to use it, see “RTF” in our Resumé Glossary.)

More that you should know:

Word, plain-text, and RTF files are editable—you can revise them yourself as needed. (Some resumé consultants don’t provide editable files, or charge extra for releasing editable Word files.) PDF files, by their nature, cannot be edited (see “PDF” in our Resumé Glossary). But it’s not difficult to save an edited Word document as a PDF.

Our extras (cover letters, salary histories, etc.), will be delivered in all the formats useful for each piece; some of the standard formats above don’t apply to all the extras. (For instance, you won’t need a PDF of a cover letter, since letters have to be customized for each recipient. Typeset resumés, on the other hand, are delivered only in PDF format.)

In writing and design, we use techniques specifically appropriate to resumés, and adapt them as needed to each field and, to the extent appropriate, to each customer’s style. Word, plain-text, and, if you order them as extras, Typeset or HTML resumés, are designed from scratch in each format, in order to make the most of each format’s advantages and strengths, with the least restriction from each format’s limitations.

Paper printouts of your resumé and other pieces are available as an option, for an additional charge. (See Paper Output for details.) Fine business stationery paper will be used: 24-pound bond, without patterns or watermarks, of a near-white shade that provides good contrast and readability but is easy on the eye, thus giving an elegant and pleasant impression.

Most people, however, print their files out themselves, or take them to a copy shop. (You will need to bring paper resumés to an interview.) As a matter of fact, we’ve never yet had anyone order paper from us, though a few people have asked about it. If your job search would really benefit from using finer paper, get paper like that described above, and use that to print on. (20-pound is fine, and is much easier to get.) Many copy shops will print on paper supplied by customers.

 


 

HTML RESUMÉS: BEAUTY IS IN THE COMPUTER OF THE BEHOLDER (and README FOR UNIX USERS)

The appearance of HTML resumés depends on the hardware and software setup at the viewer’s end. So the way your HTML resumé looks on your computer may not be what an employer sees. Part of the craft of HTML design is making sure the page looks as consistent as possible from one computer to another, and as good as possible regardless of any variations that do occur.

Occasionally, tradeoffs have to be made. In those cases we give preference to the technical requirements for the best appearance at the employer’s end. (You may be happy running several generations behind current hardware and software, but it’s extremely unlikely that a prospective employer will have a setup quite that old. It’s also unlikely that someone in HR will be viewing your resumé on your favorite cutting-edge handheld device.) We base our decisions on current use statistics for the various browsers and operating systems, weighted for other practical considerations such as upward or downward trends, corporate- versus home-use practices, and niche importance.

The Universal HTML resumé shown on our Work & Testimonials page is not an actual HTML resumé. It is a screen shot showing what at least 95% of employer personnel using Windows or Mac will see. If they don’t see this, they’ll see something that still looks good. (Percentages are based on recent surveys. Unlike the screen shot, actual Universal HTML resumés do not have a fixed page width: the text will re-run to fill the screen, at whatever width the viewer chooses.)

If you’re in a Unix market, we’ll design your Universal HTML resumé (and its font stack) for Windows, Mac, and Unix. It will look like the Universal HTML resumé on our Work & Testimonials page when viewed on Windows or Mac boxes; when viewed on at least 75% of Unix systems, it will look very similar to our screen shot—in fact, it will be déjà vu all over again. We produce HTML resumés using techniques, typefaces, and specifications similar to those used on this Web site, so the appearance of this site on a given computer will be a good indication of how our resumés will look on that computer.

 


 

OUR PRICING SYSTEM

Pricing depends on the type and level of position you’re seeking. The longer you’ve been working, the more there is to present about you. And certain fields and markets require more elaborate presentations, more fine-tuning, and more extensive research and interviewing.

We want to keep our pricing system as simple and transparent as possible, so you’ll know in advance what sort of prices you would be looking at for the services you might like. At the same time, we want to keep our prices fair to you and to us, and that requires a certain amount of fine-tuning in matching prices to the amount of work done.

Our solution is a fairly detailed system of job-search types and price levels.

We use five price levels, from Price Level 1, which covers services for people just entering the job market, to Price Level 5, which covers services for VP- or C-level executives. A single price level can cover more than one job-search type, since different job-search types may require about the same amount of work, and thus the same pricing.

To find out which price level applies to you, look at the list of job-search types below, to find the job-search type that best fits your job search, and see which price level it belongs to. You should usually be able to find one of these job-search types that fits you. If you can’t, come as close as possible.

When the number of jobs you have held is a criterion for determining your price level, any job for which responsibilities and accomplishments are described is counted as a job. Each period when you were freelancing, temping, or doing contract work for a number of clients, all of which would be described in a single section of your resumé, is normally counted as one job.

In the service descriptions on the Services page, you’ll see prices for each service and product, at each price level.

ENTRY-LEVEL/STUDENT: PRICE LEVEL 1

Entry-level (except Tech/IT): People new to the job market, with less than two years of work experience, not counting employment during high school or college. (Career-changers do not go in this category.)

Student: College applicants & students applying for graduate programs (masters, doctoral).

Typically a one-page resumé, but we’ll go longer if that’s what it takes and if it’s acceptable in your field.

GENERAL BUSINESS: (2 job-search types, below)

The General Business 1 and 2 job-search types cover pretty much anything that doesn’t obviously belong to any of the other groups. They each cover a fairly broad range of responsibilities, experience, and activities, but with similar cost requirements for resumé writing.

These job-search types include most business and manufacturing jobs, including management and supervisory positions with small numbers of people (up to about ten) reporting to you, but no primary authority over budgeting, hiring, policy, etc. Also included are retail sales positions and local territory sales positions; those seeking sales positions with large territories or management responsibilities should go to the General Business: Management and Senior Sales job-search type. Other types of work covered by these job-search types include office support, arts & letters, entertainment, specialized instructors.

— General Business 1: PRICE LEVEL 2

2–7 years experience and 1–3 professionally-relevant jobs in your field. (If you have more than 3 jobs in your field, use the General Business 2 job-search type. Any job for which responsibilities and accomplishments are described is considered a professionally-relevant job.)

Typically a one- to two-page resumé, often including short narrative discussions of responsibilities and accomplishments.

— General Business 2: PRICE LEVEL 3

8+ years experience or 4+ professionally-relevant jobs in your field. (Anyone with 8+ years of experience usually belongs in this level, even with less than four jobs. Any job for which responsibilities and accomplishments are described is considered a professionally-relevant job.)

Typically a two-page resumé, often including short narrative discussions of responsibilities and accomplishments.

TECH/IT—JUNIOR: TECH SUPPORT, TECHNICIAN, ETC.: PRICE LEVEL 3

Technicians, researchers, Information Technology specialists: 0–5 years experience or up to 3 jobs in your field.

Typically a one- to two-page resumé with a lot of technical detail that requires some extra time and effort on our part to collect, write, and present clearly and accurately.

TECH/IT—SENIOR: PROJECT MANAGERS, SYSTEMS ENGINEERS, ETC.: PRICE LEVEL 4

Technicians, researchers, Information Technology specialists: 5+ years experience or 4+ jobs in your field.

Executives in these fields should go to the Executive job-search type. Those requiring credentials of the sort peculiar to curricula vitae should go to the CV job-search type.

Typically a two- to three-page resumé with a lot of technical detail that requires some extra time and effort on our part to collect, write, and present clearly and accurately.

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT & SENIOR SALES: PRICE LEVEL 4

Corporate managers who aren’t executives or directors, but who have authority over budgeting, hiring, policy, etc. Top-level people at smaller firms may also fit here. Also sales positions with large territories or management responsibilities.

Typically a tightly written and carefully presented resumé two or three pages long, including short narrative discussions of responsibilities and accomplishments. Resumés in this level require greater detail and precision in writing and presentation, and more extensive interviewing to get at the needed details of experience and skills.

PROFESSIONAL: PRICE LEVEL 4

“The professions”—fields with traditionally recognized special credentials: accountants, engineers, architects, lawyers, physicians, and most healthcare providers.

Executives in these fields should go to the Executive job-search type. Those who need to present credentials of the sort peculiar to CVs should go to the CV job-search type.

Typically a two- to three-page resumé with technical and/or professional detail that requires some extra time and effort on our part to collect, write, and present clearly and accurately.

EXECUTIVE: PRICE LEVEL 5

Those seeking senior management positions, typically Director, VP, President, or C-level. A lot will depend on the size of the company, of course.

Typically a tightly written and carefully presented two- or three-page resumé, including specially developed presentations of responsibilities and accomplishments, requiring more questioning, and especially thoughtful writing.

MILITARY TRANSITION: PRICE LEVEL 2–5

Pick the job search type that best fits both the position you are seeking and the duration of your relevant experience in the armed forces. We’ll be sure to make the most of your transferable skills.

CAREER-CHANGE: PRICE LEVEL 3–5

Pick the job-search type and price level from 3 to 5 that fits either the position you are seeking or your previous work experience, whichever is more senior. We’ll be sure to make the most of your transferable skills.

CV: MEDICAL/ACADEMIC/SCIENTIFIC: PRICE LEVELS 3–5 (typically)

A CV (curriculum vitae, or “vitae”) lists, in addition to the material found in a resumé, such credentials as: dissertations, publications and conference papers, residencies, lectureships, special research activities, organizational responsibilities, etc. This requires substantial additional work; CV services are priced separately under each applicable price level. (Depending on the amount of actual content, some professional CVs, including most nursing CVs, may be priced as resumés.)

If you need both a curriculum vitae and a resumé, see the notes in the pricing tables for our standard service packages, on the Services page.

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Advice can get you into more trouble than a gun can.
—Will Rogers

 

The greatest passion of mankind is not love or hate, but the need to  change  alter someone else’s copy.
—seen in an old typeface specimen book
(H.G. Wells and Arthur Evans made similar comments.)

 

Propaganda: “That branch of the art of lying which consists in very nearly deceiving your friends
without quite deceiving your enemies.”
—F.M. Cornford (Microcosmographia Academica, preface to the 1922 ed.)

 

The man who sees two or three generations is like someone who sits in a conjurer’s booth at a fair
and sees the tricks two or three times. They are meant to be seen only once.
—Arthur Schopenhauer

 

 

 

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