Books on Resumes

I would tread very carefully when buying a book on resume writing because of the expenditure of time.  One, is reading a book on resumes a good use of your time?  Two, Not sure you could find a single book that would contain all there is to know, all the different angles to resume writing as if there were a dozen or half dozen different angles to begin with.  I mean how many ways can one write a resume?  And if there were dozens or hundreds, is that worth your time to scour the best?  What’s important about a resume is the content, your list of measured accomplishments that can be proven.  Anything else or anything less is doubtful.  Doesn’t mean that doubtful can’t win you the job.   Here is an example, this one by James Storey, of the kind of advice you’ll get from a book on resume writing.  Here is a sampling from his Chapter One, titled “The Objective of Your Resume:

Resumes are documents that allow you to present different information about you (e.g., your skills, work experience, etc.).  You can use resumes for different purposes.  In most cases, however, you’ll use them for securing employment.

First, the document doesn’t “allow you to present different information,” rather it’s a specific document, one that is restricted to your skills, work history, and accomplishments.  The resume is your attempt to buy 15-to-60-minutes of interview time with a Human Resources manager.  What else is a resume is used for?  As to “securing employment,” sorry again.  A resume only works to get you an interview.  You submit a resume through the mail or email or online or in person, that last of which is the best.  But all it can do is carve out some time for you with that manager so you can prove yourself in person during the interview.  It cannot “secure employment” unless the author is using the term “secure” loosely.  And if he is, then what other phrases are rhetorical? 

Next, he writes

Effective resumes involve various elements, all of which apply, regardless if you’re a fresh graduate or a seasoned executive.  You’ll learn about these elements later.  For now, let’s discuss the main objectives of a resume.  These objectives are:

In that paragraph, I didn’t like the shift from one vague term, “various elements,” to another vague term, “objectives,” while assuming the reader knows what he is talking about.  That’s not helpful.  Ambiguity is interesting in poetry, useful when you want to sell disinformation, tell a joke, play with friends, or confuse your enemies.  But as a helpful guide toward the completion of something meaningful and valuable, ah, not so much.  We don’t use ambiguity when we’re sincere with our friends.  If someone is going to be helpful or instructive in writing, then do that.  Let’s see what these “objectives” are.  

Attract the Reader’s Attention

Your resume must attract and impress your readers (i.e., the HR personnel of the company you’re applying to).  Your chances of getting the job you want won’t increase just because you love your resume.  Rather, you should make sure that your actual readers will love the resume you’re working on.  That means you need to know your readers first before writing anything.

Your resume is fairly meaningless to most managers.  What attracts your readers, the HR manager, or owner is not the resume itself but the problem-solving skills that you detail ON YOUR RESUME.  Making sure that your “actual readers will love [your] resume” is almost impossible . . . unless you know in advance that your skills and achievements dovetail with what the manager knows his or her boss wants.  He finishes that paragraph with that standard 15-foot hurdle, “. . . you need to know your readers first before writing anything.”  So does a book on resume writing offer you tips on how to contact the manager or owner or supervisor or CEO BEFORE you write your resume?  That’s what I thought.  It goes on, improves only slightly, like an inch just below the lip of the curb, but for the most part, it drones on.  Like I said, it’s 10th grade English class.  No insights beyond that.  

If the position you’re applying for belongs to the “corporate” category, your resume must match it.  For instance, use bullet points to present your achievements.  Additionally, refrain from using decorative colors and/or fonts.  The resume of an artist, however, can contain fancy elements since their readers are creative and artistic.

Important Not: While proofreading your work, ask yourself whether your resume matches the position you are applying for.  If you are an HR executive, would you consider that as an effective resume?

If you truly want to learn how to write solid resumes for any employment filed, buy the AWAI Resume Writing course.  It costs $200 and you’ll have it forever.  Like I said, resumes don’t get you the job, they get you the interview.  Beyond that, it’s all on your and not on your resume after that point.  Warning: just as I pointed out mind-numbing redundancies in the book above, you’ll also find lots of redundancies in the writing course at AWAI, but they will offer you strategic pointers that will set your resume apart.  That phrase “set your resume apart” is pure copy.  What sets your resume apart is your consistent achievements through one job to the next.  If an employer sees continuity in skill, in work history, in achievement, you are gold.  

1. Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job, Nick Corcodilos, 1997.