The 3 types of resume feedback you’ll get

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While putting the finishing touches on a resume, some of my clients get feedback on the document–some of it solicited, some of it unsolicited.

Over the years, I’ve found that this feedback runs the gamut; some is helpful, some is “happy to glad,” and some is out-of-touch.

Out-of-touch feedback

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of outdated resume advice circulating. Self-anointed experts share this advice on LinkedIn and in articles on various websites (some of them otherwise trustworthy). Then, people who don’t know that much about current resume trends and best practices read these tips and articles, believe them to be reliable, and share them with friends and family members.

Then there’s the folks who presumably have some expertise–someone who worked in HR 10 years ago, for example. This can be tricky. Hiring trends have changed a lot in the last decade. LinkedIn and resume best practices are constantly evolving, and someone whose experience was years ago simply might not be familiar with current practices.

Then there are the executives, managers, HR people, college career counselors, and even resume writers whose understanding of resume best practices is based on what they learned 20 years ago. The knowledge from 20 years ago helped them land a job, and they just assume nothing has changed.

So they might think that all resumes should be one page, have an objective at the top, and be black and white without even the most conservative color accents.

There’s also flawed advice circulating about how to make a resume ATS-friendly (for employers’ applicant tracking software). Some of it is based on what was needed back when companies were scanning paper resumes using OCR and primitive ATS, circa 2001.

“Happy-to-glad” feedback

Some of the feedback you’ll receive is fairly benign, yet inconsequential. Example: “Use Arial, not Calibri” for the font. Or say “developed” instead of “formulated.” Why would someone even waste their time (and yours) with these kinds of suggestions? Simple: it makes them feel important! If you’ve read Dale Carnegie’s work, you know how significant that is.

Having nothing to say presumably happens when someone lacks the knowledge to share any expertise!

Helpful feedback

Sometimes we get resume feedback that is truly helpful. A suggestion about a bullet that might be added, for example. Some of the best advice often comes from people who have hired for the roles you’re seeking. In other words, someone at the level of your would-be boss. It might even be a former boss of yours. Just bear in mind that these folks often give a mix of helpful, “happy-to-glad,” and out-of-touch feedback! So you’ll need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff–that’s something I help my clients do.

In fact, more often than not I find that advice coming from a particular person doesn’t ALL fall under one category. That’s what can make it so tricky–if one suggestion is solid, it’s easy to assume the rest are, too.

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

Why you shouldn’t use an objective on your resume

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Ah, the resume objective. They were once a requirement for the top of your resume.

Now, those who are savvy about modern resume trends know that objectives are considered outdated and ineffective in today’s job market.

A couple of the key reasons objectives have fallen out of favor are:

  • The objective statement focuses heavily on what you are seeking rather than what you have to offer.
  • Most job seekers end up writing cliche-filled objective statements that are likely to result in readers rolling their eyes.

Here are a couple examples of objective statements people might have used in the past:

  • “Objective: A rewarding position within a dynamic, growing company”
  • “Objective: A software sales executive position with unlimited growth opportunities”

Doesn’t everyone want a rewarding position? Does anyone want to be in a shrinking company? What does this tell the employer, other than the fact that the person wants a marketing position (which is way too vague–there are so many flavors of marketing)?

The objective statement was intended to inform potential employers about what type of positions you are seeking and suitable for, but there are other ways to accomplish this.
What to do Instead of an Objective

You can use a summary, and possibly a headline, to convey your qualifications and the type of position you’re seeking.

Examples of headlines:

  • “Award-winning digital marketer with history of boosting website traffic, increasing conversions, and growing e-commerce revenue”
  • “Senior-level software sales executive fueling profitable growth through strategic partnerships”

Does that tell the employer more right off the bat compared to the objective statement example above? Of course it does! It hits on exactly the types of things an employer would want in a digital marketer. And there isn’t any question about what type of jobs you’re seeking–you’re obviously seeking digital marketing jobs; no confusion there, and no objective needed.

Your sizzling headline can then be followed by a summary consisting of a few bullet points, or a paragraph, or a short paragraph followed by a few bullet points. You can also include a core competencies section (a list of skills) if you want.

Nails in the coffin of the objective statement

Resume experts started using headlines and summaries instead of objectives about a decade ago, but it takes a VERY long time for every professional, executive, and career counselor to hear about the latest trends in resume writing. So there are still a fair number of folks who are using objectives and recommending objectives.

If you have a resume book that recommends the use of an objective, check to see when the book was published. Any book published more than a decade ago is likely to contain a lot of outdated information.

Here are a couple relatively recent books that emphasize the use of a summary instead of an objective:

  • Resumes for Dummies, 8th Ed. (Wiley, 2019) [I was a contributor to this book]
  • Modernize Your Resume (Emerald Career Publishing, 2016)

This article first appeared on KellyDonovan.com