Monday, February 17, 2014

"I Showed The Resume You Wrote To My Friend and She Said..."

Ugh...there are few statements that elicit that feeling of dread for a resume writer than the one that starts with, "I showed the resume you wrote to my friend and she said..."

I received an email from a resume writing colleague today. She wondered what to say to a client who had circulated her resume to friends and family and received "mixed reviews."

Here was my response:

You tell your client, "I appreciate you showing your resume to others for their feedback. Everyone has an opinion about resumes, and sometimes the feedback can be useful and we can use it to improve your resume. I am happy to discuss any feedback you receive, including explaining the strategy behind why the information was presented the way that it is in your current resume. However, the ONLY opinion that matters when it comes to your resume is the hiring manager for the kind of job you're targeting. If you're submitting your resume for the kinds of jobs you and I targeted with this resume, and you're not getting interviews, then we need to chat. Otherwise, I'm confident that the document we've collaborated on is going to be effective in helping you reach your dream job."

If the client persists with wanting changes based on opinions from family and friends, you will agree to make changes — on two conditions:
  1. This will be considered an "additional version" of the resume, and you will charge them your hourly rate to make any changes (payable in advance) AND
  2. They will need to sign a hold-harmless statement that you are making the changes to their document against your professional judgment and that you will not stand behind that document like you would their original document (including any guarantees or warranties, either expressed or implied).

The most common reason for a jobseeker to ask others for feedback is fear and doubt. They are anxious about their job search and they are seeking reassurance from their friends and family members. Unfortunately, the people they are soliciting feedback from aren't the best judge of what they need in their job search. They may unintentionally sabotage the jobseeker because they want to "help."

Recognize that your client is operating from a place of uncertainty. Reassure them that they have made the right decision by engaging the services of an expert to help them in their job search — but that they need to trust your experience and expertise in order to be successful.


  1. Hi Bridget, I am a Resume Writer with a small career center. May I request that your articles be sent to my email (I am already receiving them on FB), but it would be something convenient we can use more if we could receive them in email format. My personal email is: (that 0 is a zero - as in 0141). Thank you so much. Love reading your brilliant articles!

    1. Hi! I've added a "Follow by email" option to my blog. It's on the right-hand side of the blog page, under my photo!

  2. Great post Bridget! The sequel might read "I sent my resume to an online critiquing service and they said..."

  3. Good post Bridget and any resume writer in business for long will experience this. Unfortunately, it's also true that many people ask friends and family to help them write resumes, which often don't resonate with employers. For the past several months when providing resume reviews at job fairs, I'm hearing employers now complain that candidates need to hire resume writers to create their documents. What's circulating is less than par and employers are growing weary of reviewing poorly written, uninformative resumes while searching for the one person desperately needed for their current job opening.
    Thanks for providing this insight for resume writers; it helps us all.

    1. So true, Linda! The latest statistic that I've heard is that jobseekers with professionally written resumes find a job 40% faster than those with self-written resumes. Professionally written resumes help candidates stand out, and help employers find great talent faster!

  4. I am currently working with a client who insists on forwarding articles about resume writing that he thinks might be helpful. However, this client is also resisting all my efforts to do exactly what these articles suggest, like focusing on achievements and using keywords. He is a highly qualified engineer and has some impressive credentials, but he doesn't seem to get that I am trying to help him. Sometimes clients require a lot of education and hand-holding just to get them out of their own way.

    As a side note, I am doing his resume because he is receiving help from a local non-profit that I do volunteer resume writing for.