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How can you know whether or not your resume passes muster? I hear many people say, “I respect my dad’s opinion and he says it is wonderful,” or “My friend is in management and does a lot of hiring, so s/he’s an expert,” or “I know it’s good because my friend who has a master’s degree in English wrote it.”

You can share your resume with 20 different people and get 20 different opinions and suggestions for improving it. How do you know whose advice to take? Do you take the advice of the person you trust the most, whether or not that person knows much about strategy, targeting, formatting and grammar, or do you take the advice of a recruiter who looks at resumes all the time and “should know”?

I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is far easier to judge a good resume than to write one, and that’s the reason I write for managers and executives in career fields that you would think could do their own writing: communications, marketing and human resources. Note also that there are far more truly awful resumes out there than there are superb ones.

Being objective about your strengths, weaknesses and value is difficult, no matter your academic preparation or career field. Knowing what to include . . . or not . . . is also difficult. Have you provided enough information for a recruiter to determine whether or not you have the right skills and experience? Is the text easily readable, understandable and relevant? Does what you say provide context and make sense? Are all the words used correctly and spelled correctly? Do you follow writing trends and know what is appropriate for various career fields? Is your grammar flawless? And how do you pare down 4 or more pages of accomplishments over the last 20 years?

Do you visit your local interior decorator when you have a toothache or ask the opinion of a medical receptionist rather than the physician who is trained to diagnose your condition and authorize a prescription for pain?

A resume writer (preferably a certified writer with experience writing for high achievers) is your best source of information regarding a “good” resume. That’s because this is what they are trained to do for a living . . . trust me!

Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC