Career Advice – Beware the $700 Resume

June 1, 2009

Got a call the other day from a friend of mine who is currently in between positions, and he told me that he was on The Ladders, and had applied for a resume critique.   After submitting his resume, he was sent an e-mail from a resume reviewer that basically dissected his resume and provided him with some high level generic feedback.  These recommendations included things like elevating his language/vocabulary, omitting the year that he graduated college, formatting and visual design, and defining a specific job title that applies to his experiences.  

On its own, I would tell you that some of the feedback had some merit; however there were items that I did not agree with.  For instance, if a company is going to discriminate against me by knowing my age (whether I am either too old or too young) I would like to know before I waste my time in interviewing.

However there was a catch.

All of this feedback was packaged nicely around carefully crafted language that in my opinion is a poorly designed sales pitch.  The words that they used stated that “THE BEST RESUMES -NOT CANDIDATES receive attention”, “your resume goes FIRST and it’s their ONLY impression of YOU,” “Managers are interested in IMPACT over action.”

I cannot deny that these statements are indeed factual and make a great deal of sense.  I did get a chuckle of how they decided to capitalize and bold some of the words to draw emphasis.  FOR EFFECT I WILL CONTINUE ON USING THEIR STYLE. 

As you read on The Ladders critique instructs the candidate to “go back and reread your resume, and you will see that this document is selling you short. The bottom line: Your resume simply does not reflect your professional caliber at all. You have an excellent background…you have the qualifications…but you are just not making that first impression count.”

THIS STATEMENT IS PATRONIZING AT BEST.  I ALWAYS APPRECIATE A GOOD BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT.

The Ladders writes “You are a premium member of TheLadders.com BECAUSE you’ve got the valuable experience, the superior skills, the unique qualifications and most importantly the DRIVE to get that next 100k+ job (yes, we redirect people who don’t fit our profile; it is in our best interest to do so).”

THIS IS YOUR CUE TO BEGIN FEELING SPECIAL.  STATING THAT YOU SHOULD BE PRVILIGED TO BE INCLUDED AS A MEMBER OF THE LADDERS, WHOSE BARRIER TO ENTRY IS EITHER YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OR YOUR MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP FEE, IS QUITE AN HONOR!

The Ladders writes “On paper, your wording and presentation leave much to be desired. Your resume does NOT generate excitement and professionalism. These two elements combine to make you the ideal candidate for a resume rewrite. We are here to make your job search QUICK and SUCCESSFUL! To this end, it is crucial that your document look as impressive as you do, and that you do not LOSE interviews in the process.”

THIS CONFIRMS THAT NOT ONLY ARE YOU DEFICIENT IN YOUR PRESENTATION, BUT YOU ARE ALSO A POOR COMMUNCATOR (OF COURSE SO ARE ALL THE OTHERS) ,BUT OTHER THAN THAT YOU HAVE GREAT SKILLS.  FEAR NOT – HOPE IS ON THE WAY (Begin Playing Superhero Theme Song of Your Choice) IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT YOU (AND ANY ONE ELSE WHO ASKED FOR THIS CRITIQUE) ARE THE “IDEAL CANDIDATE”FOR THIS SERVICE.  WE DESIGNED THIS WITH YOU IN MIND!  NOTHING SAYS SPECIAL LIKE A FORM LETTER!

The Ladders writes – “Most people are like you—they struggle to put themselves down on paper effectively—but that’s where we come in, because we are experts at knowing the best way to present you. Most competing professionals employ the services of professional resume writers, creating a disadvantage for those that make the attempt alone.”

THIS IS MY FAVORITE- DO NOT FEEL ALONE.  YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL. EVERYONE NEEDS OUR HELP.  HOWEVER ONLY THE WISE CHOSE TO ACCEPT IT (AND OF COURSE HAVE A VALID CREDIT CARD).  THEN THEY TELL YOU THIS CAN ALL BE YOURS FOR THE LOW RETAIL PRICE OF $700. 

Please understand that I am not writing this to single out The Ladders or any other resume writing service, but $700 is a lot of money.   I am sure that many have received value for this service and are happy with the results.  What I want to explain that YOU ARE CLEARLY BEING SOLD TO!

Unfortunately, there are many who seek to profit from others during times when they are most vulnerable.  As you can tell from the critique above, the key statement that they make, is that you are clearly at a competitive disadvantage is you DO NOT do this.

I do believe that resume writing assistance is valuable and that if used correctly, it can be the difference in providing you the opportunity to be included in the interview process and being considered for a position.   I am also a firm believer that those “WHO RECEIVE FREE ADVICE, TRADITIONALLY GET WHAT THEY PAY FOR.”

I understand that companies, like The Ladders, are in business to make money and are not run like charities.  But there is a time and place for everything.  To make promises that this type of investment will produce results and help you get employed quicker, is not 100% truthful.  I am pretty confident  that there is some strong legal language and disclaimers attached to this service agreement. 

 

I am a big believer that the time to make this investment is when your career is in good shape, and you are in good financial health.  I think that is not a great business practice to ask people for money in times when they need it the most.   

Here are some guidelines that I can give you when considering a resume writing/preparation service:

1) Find someone who understands the Information Security industry, your marketable skills, and your target audiences.  This will be incredibly helpful in helping you market yourself effectively to the companies that are looking for talents like the ones you possess.

2) Understand from the resume service what their success rate is in working with people with your talent and at your level of employment.  When possible ask for references.  Ask your peers if they can recommend anyone in particular.  Make some of their fee contingent upon receiving a result.  For example, 50% percent of the fee to be paid up front, and the remainder to be paid upon getting an interview- based on this new resume. 

3) Find someone that you already have a previously developed trusted relationship with to help you.  Granted this may be a “free service” like a member of your network or a mentor, who will be happy to give you some advice and guidance.  It can even be a recruitment firm or career coach that has helped you in the past, who offers this as a “fee based” service.   As a general guideline, if you have a previous relationship, you are already have an understanding of what your expected level of service will be.  

4) Figure out the “fair value” for their service.  You can do this by applying a dollar value to their time. As a guideline, think about what your “hourly rate” would be, and use that as a number. 

For example, if your compensation is $100 an hour, and it will take three hours, fair value for the service would be $300.  You can pay $150 up front, and $150 after you go on your first interview.

In closing, please be careful on whom you trust with your career and which services that you pay for.    Make sure that the service providers are motivated by the development of a lasting relationship, not just a short term transaction!

Remember – THIS BLOG IS FULL OF FREE ADVICE, YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR!

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Planning 

Comments

One Response to “Career Advice – Beware the $700 Resume”

  1. Rob Traver on June 10th, 2009 7:56 am

    In your article you recommend working with Resume Services that specialize in information security. Can you offer a recommended link?