You Get What You Pay For

Today I was at a meeting where no one knew I was a professional resume writer. While at lunch, a nice lady sitting across from me was talking about working on her brother-in-law’s resume the night before. It seems she was up very late writing it up for him because he had an interview first thing this morning at a very high-profile, scientific research laboratory. She was not in a very good mood from her lack of sleep, to say the least.

I decided to keep mum on my chosen profession and just encouraged her to keep talking. Quite frankly, I was curious about the situation and the story she had. It seems her brother-in-law was a captain in the Marines stationed at Quantico, Virginia. He was considering retiring and getting a civilian job in the local area near his wife’s family. I was trying to make the connection between Marines and research lab so I must admit I was encouraging the lady to continue her story.

It seems that one of the reasons she was up so late working on his resume was because she could barely read his writing. He had written out long lists of his training and skills and she had trouble making heads or tails of it.

“I read one word as T-Y-M-O-C-A. I finally gave up and asked him what that was,” she said, “He laughed. He said that the word he had written was ‘thermal’ and it was some type of sight for one of the guns he listed. I just wrote it down as he spelled it for me along with the listing of all the other guns he was certified in using. I had never heard of it before but I figured someone would know what it was.”

Again, my mind starts thinking “Guns-research lab? Guns-research lab?” I just couldn’t make the connection. I finally had to ask, “Why were you listing the weapons he was familiar with? What kind of job is he interviewing for?” She said, “Oh I don’t know. I was just putting down everything he gave me.”

This is one of the dangers you run into when you have an amateur prepare your resume. Just because your sister-in-law has a college degree and can work a word-processing program does NOT mean she’s the person to write your resume. This lady, well-intentioned as she was, did not have a clue what she was doing and might even have damaged the man’s potential as a viable candidate for the position with her lousy work. She did not even know for what type of position he was interviewing! How could she craft a resume that would highlight his best skills and potential for the job?

“Typing up a resume” is not crafting a winning document. Considering the type of work this particular scientific research laboratory does, more than likely all this man’s weaponry skills were not relevant. It would be wasted space on the document that could have been better used to describe his managerial skills and leadership accomplishments. His security clearance would be a big seller with this particular employer but she did not mention it at all; in fact, she had not even thought about it until I asked her if he had one. She thought she was doing her brother-in-law a big favor when she was actually doing him a great disservice.

Did her brother-in-law save a few bucks by getting her to “type up his resume”? Not really when you consider it could have cost him a job with a very prestigious employer. Truthfully, that was probably the most expensive resume he could ever buy considering he was using it to try to snag a $100K+ job. It cost him a lot more than he would have paid any resume firm for a professionally crafted document that would have been a benefit rather than a detriment to his career search.

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