Monday, March 17, 2008

JIST Wants Your Work ... But They Don't Value It (Apparently)

Thanks to John Donovan, of CRS Resume Service, for bringing this issue to our attention.

Mike Farr is an career industry author who has written more than 20 books. He is also the founder of JIST Publishing.

CareerOINK is a division of JIST Publishing, which is probably best known by resume writers for their "Gallery of Best Resumes" books. The "Gallery" series, published by David F. Noble, contains compilations of the work of professional resume writers.

In the foreword to the "Gallery of Best Resumes: Third Edition," Noble writes:
"While most books are based on one person's opinion of what makes a good resume, Gallery of Best Resumes includes resumes written by dozens of professional resume writers. These people make their living helping others produce good resumes, and they sent us their best work."

On CareerOINK, Farr offers "Mike Farr's Online Get a Job Workshop."

The first tip on the page is:

Write it yourself.
It's okay to look at other resumes for ideas, but write your own yourself. It will force you to organize your thoughts and background.

Ironically, in the foreword to "Gallery of Best Resumes: Third Edition," Farr writes:

"This book features resumes from writers who share several important qualities: Good listening skills, a sense of what details are appropriate for a particular resume, and flexibility in selecting and arranging the resume's sections. By "hearing between" a client's statements, the perceptive resume writer can detect what kind of job the client really wants. The writer then chooses the information that will best represent the client for the job being sought. Finally, the writer decides on the best arrangement of the information, often from the most important the least important, for that job."

He then provided contact information for the major professional associations.

It's understandable that Michael Farr wants people to write their own resumes -- of course, with the help of the books that JIST publishes. But encouraging professional resume writers to submit their best work and then writing on his CareerOINK site that resume writers are just "designers" (even if he wrote something different in the foreword of the "Gallery" book) makes me wonder if the professional resume writing community should be helping him make more money.

I wrote the following response to JIST (and I encourage you to submit your own comments to

As a professional resume writer and editor of a trade newsletter for professional resume writers, I am disappointed in Michael Farr's suggestion that people write their own resume -- without providing a caveat that for individuals who have a difficult time communicating what it is they do (or their accomplishments) that professional assistance is available for more than just "design and printing."

On the CareerOINK site, Farr writes:
Get professional help with design and printing if necessary. Many resume writers and print shops have desktop publishing services and can do design for you.

The professional resume writing community is not a group of desktop publishers. Our skills combine expert writing, marketing, public relations, and design capabilities ... which, from evaluating thousands of resumes myself over the years, most members of the public do not possess.

Most professional resume writers will involve the client heavily in the development process, asking them tough questions about their skills, abilities, and achievements. We welcome individuals to assess their strengths and gather information for their resume development -- but I find that most individuals are not prepared to objectively assess their qualifications in the way that is most relevant for the hiring manager reading the resume.

Mr. Farr's comments are akin to suggesting that everyone prepare their own taxes, or represent themselves in court, without taking into account that sometimes handling things yourself can be a mistake. Reading a book on tax preparation can be useful, but it won't necessarily make me ready to complete my 1040 and supporting schedules. Just because I watch Law & Order doesn't prepare me to defend myself in a civil trial.

I understand that Mr. Farr is the author of numerous self-help career-oriented books (I've reviewed several of them in our publication), but he is doing a disservice to his readers (and the professional resume writers that contribute to many of JIST's books) by not educating them about the availability of professionals to help them with this aspect of their job search -- and not just helping them "design" a resume they write themselves.

Previously, I have offered JIST books for sale to our readers -- and have encouraged resume writers to contribute their work to JIST-published books, such as "Gallery of Best Resumes"; however, I will be revisiting this in light of this statement on a JIST-owned website, unless Mr. Farr modifies these guidelines.

I appreciate your prompt response.


Resume writers -- what do you think??

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