Saturday, April 12, 2008

Another Perspective - Resume Samples

Recently, on the PARW E-List, Frank Fox expressed his opinion that resume writers should not post resume samples on their website. He wrote, "Samples simply invite every visitor to be a critic!" He compared this to CPAs posting client tax returns on their website to demonstrate the tax refunds they were able to get for their clients. He asked, "Do those samples in any way provide assurance that you will have lots of deductions no other CPA would have uncovered...and that you, too, will get a really big refund?"

The problem with this analogy is that the federal government uses a standardized tax form, while resumes are highly customized. And, believe it or not, at least here in Nebraska, accountants *do* talk about how they are able to obtain bigger refunds for their clients. They might not show the actual tax form, but I've seen several of them provide a list of "actual" deductions they've been able to identify for their clients, compared to their competitors.

In fact, H&R Block is running a national campaign for their "Second Look" service:

A tax review service from H&R Block, is helping taxpayers maximize their refunds. With a Second Look review, H&R Block’s tax professionals check returns that were self-prepared or prepared by other tax professionals for missed tax benefits. Last year, H&R Block found bigger refunds for more than half of clients who received a Second Look review. The average additional refund was more than $1,300 for those who re-filed with H&R Block.

Regardless of who prepared their returns, taxpayers can bring in their current and previous three years’ returns for review by an H&R Block tax professional, who confirms the accuracy and ensures that all eligible credits and deductions have been claimed. In addition, the return is covered by the unique H&R Block Guarantee, which provides audit assistance and pays for any penalties and interest owed to the IRS due to an H&R Block error on a return. Last year, H&R Block tax professionals found errors in more than 80 percent of returns it reviewed as part of its Second Look service.

Is "showing rather than telling" more effective? In many cases, yes.

I'm still a huge proponent of including resume samples on your site -- just as I am in favor of resume writers publishing their work in books. Both of these techniques are proven business-builders.

Should clients just believe that we're as good as we claim? Well, it would be nice, but it's not realistic. As I've said before, if you don't post your resume samples because you think someone will just come to your website and steal them, it's true -- that MIGHT happen. But MORE likely is that they're seeking out your site -- and your services -- because they want your help. If your samples reflect the diversity of clients you work with -- and a unique look and content for each -- they will see what you mean by "custom" job search assistance.

There will always be people who want something for nothing. They're going to get it -- whether it's from your site or just Googling "free resume."

But there is a large group of people out there who are legitimately interested in hiring a resume writer -- and they don't know the difference between their lackluster, ineffective resume and your shining examples until they see if for themselves. (Of course, if your work sucks, don't put up samples!)

Frank writes, "Anyone coming to your site should assume that you can write a resume without showing a few samples to prove that you can. The only thing that really matters is the resume you will write for them!"

In response, I would say what I say to all my clients: "The best predictor of future performance is your past performance." If prospective clients see what you've done with your past clients (I love before-and-after examples with accompanying case histories for best showcasing your samples), they will believe you can do the same for them. I'd love to hear what you think about this issue -- e-mail me at or post a comment on this thread.

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