Thursday, July 3, 2008


In the last couple of months, I have been deluged with requests from people to help with resume construction and mostly, reconstruction. It is a painful and laborious, bordering on gruesome, task. It's one of those talents that people find out what I do for a living, they immediately think that I do it for fun too. Yes, I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to spend my free time working on your resume. Writing your cover letter. Coaching you through the interview process. For free. Wouldn't think of taking a dime. I love this work. It's a calling. (As an aside, I also do a fair amount of computer work and it is striking to me how many people think I want to fix their machines for free, too).

I snicker at the inquiries from people I do not know who contact me and ask me to 'look over' their resume and when I let them know my rate, they are appalled. First, they didn't think I charge - why that is, I haven't a clue. And second, I charge a TON of money. Why? Because that is what my FREE time is worth. Not what YOU want to pay but it is what I have determined that giving up non-work time is worth to me. And it's my right.

I struggled with this post because there is nothing that I enjoy more than truly helping my friends. This is not meant to be a passive-aggressive deterrent to the people for whom I offer. What it IS meant to be is a warning to you, should you be seeking free professional services. Offer. Something. Anything. Reciprocity. A helping hand. Starbucks. It's appreciated.

Much like cover letters (that I personally think are the MOST important part of the package), I spend a great deal of my time reviewing resumes. And I am frequently stunned at the poor quality, lack of detail and work that candidates spend on them. Stunned. Think about the actions and consequences of this. If you, candidate, are so unwilling to spend the time and attention on a piece of paper representing YOU, what are you going to do on the job? What kind of product will you turn out? I shudder to think.

Over the course of the week, I will get inquiries from candidates who are systematically rejected as candidates. Some will email, some will call and want feedback, help, counsel on what they are doing wrong, what's wrong with the resume, cover letter, writing sample, etc. Folks, a bit of advice. It is NOT the Human Resources responsibility to coach and counsel you into a job. If I have to HELP you get a job, chances are likely that I am going to have to help you DO the job too. And while feasible, not likely. So take some initiative and make that resume sing.

One last helpful tidbit. Please don't use Microsoft's resume template. Just don't. There are fantastic sites offering free resume assistance. Use them. While searching in Google, use the site search feature and search only on education sites. They have hand's down the best resume assistance out in the wasteland.

Happy Writing.


Liz said...

Hi HR Maven

First of all thank you for reading my blog post on this topic and for posting a comment. I appreciate it.

Second. I love your post. I too am shocked at how poorly people communicate and also how poorly they organize resumes. I truly think that writing is a skill and I am shocked at how few people think it's important to develop that skill.

I loved the part of your post when you talk about what you charge for resumes and how you charge what your free time is worth. What a great way to talk about that. When I first starting writing resumes and cover letters for money I felt guilty sometimes for charging money -- I can't explain why except to say that I guess that is part of the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur. Anyway, now I no longer feel guilty at all and, in fact, resent people that want free advice and/or discounts. The exception to that are the people whom I know for a fact have few resources and whom I like....I will help them at a reduced rate or for free. But cheap attorneys who just want a discount to save a few bucks can take a flying leap!


Ask a Manager said...

I know this post is years old, but I just read it again and love it.

Deirdre Honner said...

Thanks Alison. Means an awful lot coming from you.