Job Seekers Missing the Resume Boat

I certainly would not classify myself as a perfectionist, but I do make some effort with the clothes I wear being that what I wear represents me to others. I am aware that clothes influence people's perception of me. They cause people to look at me a certain way based on how I coordinate and display them. I know that I can do things with clothes to make myself appear anyway I want. I can make myself appear professional, serious, fun, or like a big dork.

It is not disputable that the clothes a person wears and how they groom themselves can say a lot about that person, whether it is accurate or not, and that is the key. Perception is reality. Sure, if I am heading to the store for a minute on a Saturday morning because I need something I am not going to be too concerned about how I look, although I probably will not look like a slob. If you meet me for a casual or formal business event, of course you are going to get a very polished looking person. The point is that you can control what others see in you and thereby influence them.

Here is what is so perplexing to me after many years in the recruiting business. Besides clothes and grooming, what other things are out there that we have complete control over and that we know will have an impact for a job seeker? You got it. A resume presentation. I doubt it is just me but day after day, month after month, and year after year I open resumes that are just horrible. I just shake my head. Not really at the resume, but the person behind the resume.

How is it that most people never internalize, or change their level of awareness, the critical point that when searching for a company to pay them money to provide a service that their resume is a direct reflection of them? It represents them and speaks volumes about who they are. In my wildish dreams I could not image sending to a recruiter or potential employer the resume I receive.

Here's the deal. A resume needs to open up and hit a person between the eyes as exuding polish and success. It is a written advertisement. An advertisement must be outstanding to work. It represents a person and the service they provide to companies. Think about it this way. Could you ever imagine in a million years a world-class company that is selling a product or service sending out what candidates are sending to potential customers? Could you ever see IBM for example sending out what these candidates are sending? No chance.

Well there is a difference some candidates might argue. How is that? Name one more valuable and useful product in the market today than a qualified candidate. You can't do it. Candidates need to market themselves like the world-class product and service they are. Perception really is reality. It does not matter if a candidate actually is the best whatever on the planet. If the perception is that they are not, then they're not. People need to upgrade their thinking and think like a business, because that is what they are.

I have had candidates tell me... "well I used a resume sample or template I found". I tell them that employers, your potential customers, do not want some refurbished resume template or free resume sample you found somewhere on the Internet. They do not want some resume builder that you plowed all of your stuff into. I say to them, ask yourself this. Does IBM or any other professional organization go scraping the Internet for free marketing brochures and free literature to send to potential customers? Not a chance. These companies know the importance of this area and they have entire marketing departments, or they outsource it, because they know just how critically important these items are.

I know as a recruiter that when I open a resume that is exceptional, which is honestly only a handful of times per year, I stop and say, wow, this is nice. This person gets it. The funny thing is that the person sometimes is in a low level position, probably not for long. Usually, the first thing I think is that they had it done somewhere. While I do believe many resume services are probably subpar factories, some are outstanding. I would certainly rather see a resume done by any service than the garbage candidates send. The worst part in all of this is that it's just such a missed opportunity for the job seeker to really help their cause.

There used to be a time when I would get a great candidate with an awful resume and I would spend the time redoing it. Not anymore. Life is too short to be doing for others what they should be doing for themselves. Half of the reason people are in the state they are in is because of this mentality. Now I just send it back letting them know that I won't send this to a hiring manager in its current state. It will negatively influence him or her and you really do only have that one shot to make a first impression. If not negatively influence the hiring manager, it certainly will not help the cause to secure an interview like an exceptional resume would.

Reprinted by Permission: Professional Recruiter Org