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How much do you charge to re-write my resume?

Updated: Jun 10

When a client calls for career coaching, it typically starts with “how much do you charge to re-write my resume?” In short. Nothing. Because I don't write resumes. Wait.. what did you say?

Example of a basic resume for a non-basic person.
Is this your best foot forward?

Yep. That came out exactly the way I intended it to. I will help you "right" your resume, but there will be no effort on my part to actually craft up a word document summarizing a client's work experience.

So what do I do? I look over what they send me because I’m trying to learn something about how this person views the world and themselves.  What I normally see is a grab bag of every task they’ve ever done for money, broken out by one-to-two word lists of random skills in an attempt to connect with the keyword gods and get through the filtering process, with zero regard to what they found joy doing as an employee throughout their career. Basically their custom written advertisement for legalized prostitution.

The other big thing that I find is a header statement that usually begins with “driven, self-starter with proven track record for leading…” you know that sentence. It’s way too long and layered with descriptions that are too big and overflowing with confusing adjectives. The flow is awkward because it is robotic, not natural English, not personal, non-descriptive, and overall… a generic waste of space and anyone's time. It's there because we were told it is supposed to be there.

I typically go through the whole document to get an idea of how desperate this person is for employment and then close it. Forever. Re-writing for effectiveness is impossible at this point. My first task to them is to go through and get rid of ALL THE CRAP that you never want to do again. Stop advertising everything you’ve ever done for money in an attempt to get a job… You’re not seeking a different opportunity to do those same things again. Are you? If so, why are you leaving? It’s like going to a restaurant and saying “I’ve eaten all of these styles of food before, so I’m up for anything I’ve eaten before. Even if it makes me sick. I’ve had diarrhea before, and I didn't really learn a lesson from it. It's just part of the experience. Right?” Trust me when I say that I’ve seen some weird combos on resumes before. 

As a career coach, I drill into someone’s motivation pretty hard in order to figure out exactly “what it is they are wanting to do next.” It’s the interrogator in me. Interrogators ask interrogatives. We question everything. I don’t need 5-6 pages of EVERYTHING you’ve ever done. I’ve reviewed resumes as a hiring agent as well, and I’ve wondered to myself “why did they tell me about this?” It’s a learning and development job. Do I need to know that you drove a school bus for 6 months back in 2017? Are you wanting to drive a school bus for us… or anyone? We don’t have that as a required or preferred skill. Is it highlighting your flexibility to do anything? It is actually highlighting your desperation. 

That my friend is how you end up in abusive relationships with an employer. That is how you start down the road towards burnout because burnout is simply abusing yourself to the point that you can no longer ignore it. Burnout is when you collapse at the thought of starting a new project aaaaand you find yourself looking for the “easy apply” button on LinkedIn for any job that is close enough that you can transition into without having to really look at what you’re putting forward.

"If I have to write a cover letter… I’m out. If the title is close enough, I’ll just send them the resume on file and wing it in the interview if they call." 

If the phrase “and other duties as assigned” doesn’t trigger a question in your mind, then you may not have learned the lesson that made you bail from the previous positions. It means that the hiring manager is not sure about what they need, and you’re saying you have no boundaries for what you’ll do by showing me all the random stuff that you did in the past. Is that really the “sweet spot” of the hiring market that you’re targeting? I’ve done anything for money before, and I’ll do anything for money again. Please hire me. I’m desperate.

These are common traps that we fall into that literally re-create the same suffering cycle over and over for us. 

Going forward:

  1. Objectively look at your resume as a summary of what you want to do again. That is the literal meaning of a resume. 

  2. Get rid of any line with a skill you never want to leverage again. Stop advertising it. Stop asking for an opportunity for it to move forward with you. File is as a lesson learned and leave it with the old job. 

  3. Emphasize the great part of your experiences. What are the areas that you loved? Where is your passion?

  4. Reduce “non-pertinent” employment history to a minimal space on your resume. It says “and I’ve done other things, but I don’t need to discuss them today.”  That’s preferable to any hiring manager who is objectively looking for the perfect fit. 

  5. Don’t go into those areas when asked. If someone probes into an area that isn’t in scope for the interview, utilize your boundaries. A simple “none of the work history from that portion of my resume is pertinent to this job role.” Move on. They will recognize your boundaries and respect your honesty. If they do not respect that… Do you really want to sign on with them? Really think about their motives for asking you to divulge something that you’re not comfortable divulging and take charge of the situation with questions of your own. “Is there an unlisted portion of this current job description that I have not addressed in my application or discussion thus far? If so, what would those be?” 

  6. Lead all conversations back to a point of clarity. You are worth clarity. I’ve personally been hired for positions that were DRASTICALLY different from the advertised job description. I’ve also had managers tell me in passing “we are going to be changing up the job role starting in Q2 but it hasn’t been finalized.” Push back. What does that mean? What if things are added or subtracted that I’m not comfortable with? What happens if I lose an area of passion or what happens if I adopt new responsibilities that I don’t want to do?

I’ve seen some bizarrely comprehensive job summaries on resumes for clients that I’ve worked with, and if I can’t extract your passion… as your coach… then trust me when I say that any hiring manager will be equally lost. And sadly, it is true that your resume only gets about 30 seconds worth of screen time during the review process. My most recent job postings were active on LinkedIn for about 3-4 days and I had 1000+ applicant submissions per job posting. 90% of them had master's degrees and met the basic criteria for moving forward. 95% of them had confusing resumes that didn't help me understand what they wanted to do. 95% of them applied to those jobs out of desperation.  

I want the people who leave my services to apply for their next position and be passionate, concise, and to know exactly who they are. Part of my process is to guide people down the path so that they can discern their next job from just “another '' job. 

My ideal client doesn't need me to “write” anything on their resume. We work together to “right” their motivations and aspirations. Then, the resume will “right” itself by reflecting which lines, words, and phrases get to “resume” their place in their life going forward.

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