Were you gung ho to receive a resume critique
but are now faced with a seemingly insurmountable list of
suggested changes? If you're feeling overwhelmed, follow these
tips to get your resume on track.
Consider the Source
Critiques from professional resume writers
or hiring managers in your industry should be given careful
consideration. But if you've received negative feedback from
a friend who is unfamiliar with your field or whose last job
search coincided with the market launch of the Rubik's Cube,
consider the source, and seek out additional opinions.
Absorb the Feedback
"What I have found in more than 19 years
in the resume-writing business is that job seekers get overwhelmed
by the feedback," says Kathy Sweeney, a resume writer and
president of the nonprofit National Resume Writers' Association.
Even with detailed recommendations, job seekers can find it
challenging to incorporate suggestions, she adds.
Sweeney advises job seekers to avoid getting
defensive when faced with criticism and take time to absorb
the feedback. She recommends studying job postings to identify
the credentials employers find desirable, comparing your findings
to the resume advice received and incorporating changes to
your resume that show how you meet or exceed employers' requirements.
Don't Take It Personally
"Honest criticism is hard to take, especially
from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger,"
author Franklin P. Jones once joked. But there's truth to
this statement. Keep in mind why you asked for feedback in
the first place. It wasn't to bask in praise but to collect
solid, constructive advice.
"Writing an outstanding resume is not something
that is taught in schools," observes Sweeney. So don't be
too hard on yourself. "Resume-speak" is a unique form of written
communication, and even accomplished writers can find it challenging
to convey their achievements on paper.
Daniel Drubin, PhD, author of Letting Go
of Your Bananas: How to Become More Successful by Getting
Rid of Everything Rotten in Your Life, points out that negative
feedback on your resume is not the same thing as negative
feedback on you as a person. "Your resume may tell what you
have done but does not necessarily indicate the quality of
your character," Drubin explains. "The better you feel about
who you are, the less sensitive you will be to the opinions
Let Go of the Past
Most job seekers are grateful to have spelling
or grammatical errors detected, and these are usually easy
fixes. But criticisms of your resume's content can be tougher
For example, a systems analyst spent months
on a Y2K readiness project and gave it top billing in her
resume. Her resume reviewer suggested she omit the project,
because it is not as relevant as her more recent accomplishments.
The job seeker invested hundreds of hours on this project,
so it was hard for her to accept this advice.
Drubin calls this letting go of your "rotten
bananas" -- overcoming barriers hindering your success by
moving beyond the past and finding the courage to make changes.
"You let go of your rotten resume bananas by living in the
'now,'" he says.
Don't be afraid to ask questions if the
advice is unclear or you're unsure how to proceed with revisions.
Also, consult the resources available at your local library,
bookstore or online that offer resume tips and examples of
winning resumes. If you find sample resumes that mirror the
suggestions you've received, this is a good indicator the
feedback has merit.
Road-Test Your Revised Resume
If the critique is from a qualified professional,
incorporate the changes, and take your resume for a test drive.
"I usually tell my clients they should receive at least one
interview for every 20 resumes sent out," says Sweeney. "The
caveat to this advice is they have to be applying for positions
for which they are qualified." She adds that employers want
employees who can "hit the ground running."
Your resume may take a few tries before
it is perfect, but with diligence and an open mind, you can
turn negative feedback into a recipe for career success.