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 Post subject: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:28 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
Hello,

I hope this fits into this forum, it's not directly about money and financial self development but more about professional self development. For a while now I've been taunting the idea of having my resume re-written by a professional. Not necessarily by one of those resume mills that are out there, but rather by someone that will both interview me personally, write my resume, and then edit it together with me.

I am the first to admit, I don't know much about a good resume, although I've had 3-4 jobs where my resume, at the time, got me the job. The problem now is that I am starting to target $100k+ jobs, which is in line with my type of work (Solutions Engineering) and my experience level (5+ years). I've submitted my resume to quite a number of jobs and haven't gotten the responses I was hoping for, whereas in the past, jobs have most always found me, i.e. I used to get calls from recruiters having found my resume somewhere.

I could blame the economy, if it where this time around last year, but it's not, and I know the job I am looking for is out there.
The writer I am looking at right now is certified by the resume writer association along with a number of other certifications, and from his writing samples, you can tell he's done this for many many years. Of course, this kind of experience comes at a price, about $700 for a professionally written resume.

I wonder if others here have had something like this done before and whether it was worth the expense.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:14 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5398
First off, $700 is small change if it lands you a $100+k job.

But I am skeptical of the need for this kind of thing. I have been in a position where I hired high end people like yourself and I can tell you that I was more interested in solid and relevent experience than in a professional resume.

It's true that you often need to get past a gatekeeper if there is a lot of competition for the positions. But once the resume gets in the hands of the type of person who will be your boss, the "professionally written" resumes can be a turn off because they do not give a good sense of the person who wrote it.

If I were you I would get peers to review it before spending $700.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:32 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1356
I agree with Doing Homework. Also, once you get into the $100K realm, people reviewing your resume will probably have a good idea of what was entailed in your previous jobs simply by your job title. Once you get to a certain level, your experience speaks for itself and you could practically get called in for an interview based on a list of your previous job titles and employers alone.

The "ideal" resume varies widely from industry to industry. I was taught early on to avoid the "obituary" style resume in which I list my jobs from most recent to oldest, and instead focus on presenting my skills (listing my relevant jobs or achievements under each set of skills). That has worked well for me, but I know this kind of approach wouldn't go over well in some professions where they are used to seeing obituary-style resumes and are looking for conformists, not the ones who stand out from the pack.

I've broken many of the supposed rules of resume writing over the years (I've never had a one-page resume, it's always been at least two pages, for example), and I don't think it has affected my ability to get interviews. I also take a lot of care with cover letters, customizing them for each job I apply for and never using a form letter. I never use the standard BS about "seeking a position in which I can apply my skills in xyz" because everyone's looking for a position in which they can apply their skills. Instead, I might talk about how I would approach the job, or I would draw the reader's attention to one particular job or responsibility I had that is a close fit for the requirements of the job I'm applying for.

I spent about five years hiring people in one of my jobs, and I saw hundreds and hundreds of resumes. The ones we set aside for further review were the ones with strong cover letters and focused resumes that made it easy for us to see how the applicant's skills and experience might match with what we were looking for.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:25 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
First, thanks for both of your responses, I feel you both have valid points, yet at the same time, I feel they may not be fully applicable to my situation.
I've always kept an obituary style resume in the past, until I did some reading and took in different suggestions from different sources, trying to optimise pieces (for example, I've worked for a lot of small, start-up companies and can't really show more than one large corporation on my resume, which is fine for what I do and want to do, so what I've done is explain in a sentence or two about what each company I worked for does and how they impact the market). To sum things up, I ended up with a 4 page resume, which in the feedback I've gotten is too much. I used to have a 2-pager obituary style resume, but it didn't get me the results I wanted. The 4-pager did neither however, even though it's better written than the 2-pager.

I will give it a try, $700 is a lot of money, however, at the same time, I consider it an investment, albeit one with a lot of risk. If it works out, the potential return is significant, if it doesn't, I am down $700, but this isn't money I wouldn't be willing to spend.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:16 pm 
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I've personally never liked the type of narrative resume you are describing. I actually want to know what job title you had. I want to know that you were a "Senior Engineer" because that gives me some idea of your level of responsibility, authority, and autonomy. If you tell me in one sentence that "I designed bridges" then I really have no idea what your level of involvement was. I also want to see a progression in responsibility and promotion.

When I have done this in the past I have usually had an HR screener that specifically looked for previous job titles. With a narrative resume it is far too easy for someone to exaggerate - say she designed bridges when instead it was more like selecting the paint or analyzing one of the connections.

It might be different in creative fields but in my experience in engineering it is best to use the traditional format. It's fine to summarize your role/skills/accomplishments for each employer in a sentence or two. But I am really going to be annoyed if you don't tell me your job titles in some kind of chronological order!

I also think that 4 pages is fairly reasonable for a senior position. My nominal professional resume is 3 packed pages. I have an academic resume that goes to 12 pages. Rather than focus on the number of pages, think about what you are including. I serve on a national panel that sets technical guidelines that turn into far reaching US government policy. The extra inch or two that that adds are worth it even if they bump a page. On the other hand, a couple of jobs I held 20 years ago I don't even include because they are not so relevant.

I have had people submit 1-2 page resumes for a high level engineering position. They generally do not get very far because I am looking for more accomplishments and experience. For a lower level position though that is fine. If I get a 6+ page resume for a senior engineering position I would think it came from someone who can't focus and prioritize. Do you see what I mean?

This is not a great time to be looking for a job so I can understand why you might want to shake things up. And as I said before, $700 might be a good investment in your case. But I really think YOU need to put yourself in the shoes of the person who would hire you. This person would probably have risen from a similar background as you and is now supervising/coordinating a few people just like you. So what would that person want to know about you. If you were in their shoes how would you want the information presented?

I'm not familiar with your specific field so I'm not saying your approach is wrong. But I am saying that it would not get you very far with me in my previous role hiring engineers.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:58 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
I'm an engineer, and if you've only been out of school for only 5 years, you don't need a 4 page resume. If you've worked at that many companies, something's up. Your internships may matter, but sparingly if they apply to the job in which you're applying.

I don't think the $700 approach is going to benefit you.

From my experiences, you want to tailor your resume to the job you want. You may have to change your resume around every time you apply for a different job, but people want to see that you know what you're talking about. Key words are big. Use words that are used in your industry. Did you validate stuff, integrate stuff, optimize stuff? Use those key words right next to your bullets under the company you worked for.
I'm not sure what Solutions Engineer means, but most engineers solve problems, so we're all solution engineers. What makes you a "solutions" engineer?

Engineers are different than artists. Artists can have funky fonts, and colored paper. Engineers don't. The proof is in the words. Explain to me what you did in a simple font, and I'll give you the job. I want to see someone serious who konws what their doing, someone who stands out by merit, not because they use calligraphy on their resume.

Looks like you're set on the $700 buck guy. Let us know how that goes.


Last edited by peachy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
Thank you everyone, this has been very interesting, let me clarify what a Solutions Engineer is, because it's not really what you'd expect a "traditional" engineer to be... Solutions Engineers are also known as Sales Engineers, the title is largely interchangeable, my official title right now is Solutions Engineer, but I've been called "Sales Engineer", "Post Sales Engineer", "Pre Sales Engineer" etc... I am not classically trained as an Engineer, I have a degree in Information Systems and Technology, and most my peers that do the same thing have similar degrees. Really, I am the technical advisor to Sales and the one that drives product demonstration, product integration, product requirements gathering, product development communications, etc... From my personal assessment, my job is 60% selling and 40% technical. Solutions Engineering positions are usually also commissioned, in my case, about 15% of my annual earnings are based on how well the company does in it's goals (industry standard is closer to 20%, verified by doing research, asking peers at other companies, etc...).
Now, some of the things I am responsible for are very technical. Currently working in a small high tech software company, I am the operating system engineering person. If our product needs a modification to the operating system it runs on (we sell an appliance based solution, so everything is vendor controlled, similar to Cisco, you can't install our product on just any hardware/operating system, it ships as a unified solution), I am the one that does the research, makes the changes, tests them, etc... all while doing the "normal" duties of my position. I hold a lot of the "keys" to the product, which is both rewarding and stressful at times.
I hope this sheds some light on what this position really is, because a lot of folks I talk to outside of work don't really understand it.
That being said, I've only had a few years out of college, however, I am also not a traditional college student. I've worked the past 10 years, in and outside the US, and slowly completed my degree because I was focused on not going into debt for it, while at the same time consistently progressing in my career. Well, that's with exception of my internships, they where required by my degree program, but really a step back from the jobs I've had before and after. It's been very hard making employers understand that just because I've only graduated recently, I do have the same experience that someone would have that had graduated 10 years ago. It usually gets easier during interviews, because I am very much a matter of fact kind of person, I will tell you what I've done and where I've been, but I think my resume has hindered me in getting past those gatekeepers.

At any rate, I don't want to rant or justify, but what I hope to do is show if this works or not. I will certainly update this as results come along, it's an experiment to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Resume Services
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:47 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1356
This is a case where your cover letter might make the difference. I'm kind of bullheaded about this stuff, but my view is that if an employer won't bring me in for an interview simply because my resume doesn't perfectly meet some strict set of criteria they've developed for the job, I wouldn't want to work for someone so narrow-minded anyway. It could be that just the HR people are narrow-minded, but that says something about the company (and internal communications between HR and the people in the department where the position exists) as well.

I've gotten several jobs for which I appeared unqualified based on my resume alone; I happened to be lucky enough to find employers who were open-minded, read my cover letters, and could see the potential beyond what was listed on my resume. I only have a BA but have applied for (and gotten) jobs that said they wanted someone with at least a Masters degree, and I've been selected over candidates who had PhDs. The key is finding employers and HR people who are open-minded and willing to think outside the box. I think if you can communicate the points you want to get across about your school-work situation and your experience in a short, focused cover letter, you might get a few nibbles from the right people.


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