Reality Check

Today my colleague, Elizabeth Grin of Sunshine Design (Guelph), and I provided free resume assessments at the Halton Region Job Fair. We each chatted with 30 people, providing each with between 7 and 10 minutes of dedicated one-on-one attention. It's our fourth term working in tandem to help job seekers polish up their resumes in a bid to get that critical interview.

Now, prior to the door opening and the lineups beginning (we turned away many people), I strolled the employer booths and queried them on their biggest resume complaints. Here is what I heard:

  • typos and spelling errors
  • skimpy material that told them little about the person's abilities
  • unfocused, untargeted resumes, or put another way, "general resumes"

Although I didn't have time to fully read each person's resume today, I can say from experience that people don't reliably use the spell-check feature that MS Word offers - typos abound. But I saw plenty of skimpy resumes that lacked context to the point of turning the reader off. These are like homes prepared for sale by an owner who totally overdid the "purge and declutter" maxim. What's left is not a home that exudes a warm welcome, but a cold and forbidding home. The resumes did not exert influence, as they would if they answered the question "here's why you should hire me," rather they exerted a negative vibe, as in "I don't really know what I want to be/do, so here's a general outline and you figure it out for me!"

That doesn't work in the real world.