Monday, May 18, 2009


Just enough time today to comment on something that happens when you use the job-search tools on the Internet. I’m sure most of you know the drill: you sign up for free to read job listings culled per the specifications you input, but then you discover that in order to do anything about it -– like, say, apply for the job and submit your resume –- you have to subscribe to a premium service. Been there; stopped doing that.

Nevertheless, my inbox is now being deluged with offers of free critiques of my resume. So I was curious to see what I would actually get for free. I figured I'd get the first half of an analysis, and then just when it got to the part I was really interested in hearing an opinion on, I'd have to pony up some cash. I was wrong. But what I have been getting is just as specious.

I received one of these things today from someone whose analysis contained two grammatical errors in the first sentence, and then went on to point out the “grammatical errors” in my resume, which were apparently decided upon by the use of a word processor’s grammar-checking utility. Someone should tell these people that a grammar-checker is tone deaf and applies rigid rules to one’s copy regardless of whether they truly apply. For example, they tend to flag anything in the passive voice, as if there were never a situation in which the use of same would ever be necessary or justified. It can be argued that lawyers would disagree.

Grammar-checkers also run roughshod over style, particularly the deliberate use of sentence fragments to create a staccato effect. If screenwriters like William Goldman or Shane Black had ever paid attention to such nonsense, they'd be sending out resumes today, too.

Someone should tell these resume experts all this because this latest one is saying that my copy isn’t “stylish” enough, and I should use more sentence fragments and less bullet points. (The last one I got said, "Use more bullet points.")

And, of course, the entire point of the free critique -- which was complete, but maddeningly unspecific and contained no proposed rewrites of my copy by way of example -- was to direct me to a “professional resume writing” service that would cost me $300. The last time that happened to me, the service was charging $700. Evidently, the fact that the thousands of people who are looking for jobs may not have hundreds of dollars to toss around, precisely because they don’t have jobs, hasn’t completely taken hold in logic-challenged America, but at least these outfits are lowering their prices, however incrementally.

Eventually, though, all of it will be free because so many people will have become so desperate for help with their resumes that these sites will be completely advertising-supported. But by then, of course, I'll be employed. In some other English-speaking country where salespeople won't come into my home and look at my bookcases with a horrified expression and say, "Didjoo axshully read all dis?"

But the one truly mystifying thing I want to share, in hopes that someone out there can answer my questions in a posted comment -- here, please, not on Facebook -- is this: I’m supposed to get excited about these resume-writing services because they offer the work of “certified resume writers.” Can anyone tell me what that is? Who “certifies” resume writers? Is it a board of some kind, like those of medical specialists, whose imprimatur supposedly guarantees that the writer won’t commit linguistic malpractice? Is it a government agency? Who makes up these rules?


Bob Rozakis said...

Well, if you visit this site ( I think you will see that resume writers started their own organization about twnety years ago and used it to certify themselves. Thyey also have certified interview professionals and certified career coaches.
I suppose that we could start an organization and bill ourselves as Certifed Professional Comic Book Writers. Then maybe we could tell the publishers that they need to hire our members to be sure they get the work of a Certified Comic Book Writer.

Br.isbois said...


Resume Writing Certification
Requirement Information

Certified resume writers must meet specific requirements to become a credentialed resume writing professional. Each resume writing certification has its own set of rules and regulations and is granted by a professional career organization. Credentialing requirement information is provided below for your review.

MP said...

Bob, That's called a union.

Mr. Brisbois, thank you for bringing to my attention that "Each resume writing certification has its own set of rules and regulations." Considering that most of these job-hunting sites don't even list "publishing," as an industry, that explains the contradictory advice I'm getting, all of which proves the "you get what you pay for" principle.

Greenbushboy said...

Forget the resumes. Who do you know and what pictures do you have of them with barnyard animals? The best resume you have is blog writing. It shows you have command of the English language, can put together two sentences coherently and was willing to figure out a gadget from a widget.

Robert said...

Paying someone to write your resume sounds absurd. Especially in our field where we know so many writers who would happily help us shape our resumes. I once took Resume Deli up on their offer of a free review and they said they wouldn't change a word and didn't try and steer me to something for pay -- them I'd trust (a little).

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