What your cousin’s-friend’s-boss’s wife WON’T tell you about your resume


Digg thisEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter

Every once in a full moon a client will say to me, “I love this. I love how it sounds. I am so happy with this resume, I would hire me!” and then, “I told my brother-in-law’s friend’s boss’s wife that I would let her look at my resume when you finished it. She manages Applebee’s and she has seen a lot of resumes in her time.”


I get that people want to show off their resume and hear what other’s say. I do. If a person tells me that someone they know is in HR and they want to send it to them, I understand. You want to show your friends. You want to hear their take on your resume. But not all friendly advice is good advice.

Case in point: I had a person call me up and ask me questions about my process and my resumes. She was referred to me by a senior level client of mine. This person was in IT (network analyst) and had 5 pages of experience and technical jargon as her current resume.

She said, “I don’t see any objective statements on your sample resumes”.

I said, “True. You won’t. I use a career summary and branding statements”. I then started to explain career summaries to her when she stopped me dead in my tracks and said, “I don’t want a career summary. I need an objective”. I asked her why she thought she needed an objective and she said because her friend’s aunt worked as an HR person for a small manufacturing company and she said that a resume was no good to her unless it had an objective. I had heard of this company, so I was surprised that the HR person had such strict, outdated, and ineffective rules regarding the types of resumes she wanted to see.

As I was trying to educate her about the power of branding and career summaries vs. objectives, she was pretty adamant that she wanted the objective statement. So we moved on to a couple of other things and I was surprised at her ‘demands’ which weren’t really demands, just antiquated resume ‘rules’. “I absolutely CANNOT have 2 pages” and “I have to list every application, hardware, device, etc” (even though most she said she hadn’t used in 10 years), and “It HAS to have the little ‘references upon request’ thingy at the bottom”, etc. because her friend’s aunt said so, and so on.

I think you get the gist of the conversation. Finally, I gently asked her, “Why don’t you have your friend’s aunt write your resume? Or at least you write it and have her add her two cents?” and she said, “But I was referred to YOU and I want YOU to write it!!”

I politely declined the job and vaguely suggested a few other sites that might appeal more to what she wanted. I’m sure she will find someone who will give her an objective and keep her 15 yrs IT experience to 1 page.

So my point is this— your friends/colleagues may have great intentions to help steer you in the right direction, but may not be doing it effectively. Their advice might actually hinder your efforts, not help. Better to leave it to those of us who are trained and have built careers around writing dynamic and effective resumes. Do your homework. Call around and talk to different writers until you find someone who you are comfortable with. Let them know what your expectations are and listen to what they have to say. Your friend’s aunt might be trying to help, but her help might stop you from getting the job.

Bookmark and Share

Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

Digg thisEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter


19 Responses to “What your cousin’s-friend’s-boss’s wife WON’T tell you about your resume”
  1. Dawn Bugni says:

    Erin –

    You hit the nail on the head. I’ve never understood why someone would hire a professional and then nip at their heels throughout the process. Would that same person request local anesthesia during an operation so they could tell the doctor what their cousin’s best friend told them about the procedure? I think not.(The friend has know more than a credential physician, right?. They’ve never missed an episode of ER.)

    When a non-career professional offers advice resume advice, listen intently, thank them profusely and promptly forget it. Pick a career professional you trust and listen to them. Friends and family mean well, but they’re not working in the career industry and things change with the prevailing job market. What worked six months ago many not be effective today. Besides, your friends will be uncomfortable with the “professional you”. Mom will tell you not to boast. Uncle George will ask, “Where’s the objective statement?”, because that’s the way he did his … 20 years ago (like your caller.) They all mean well. Again, thank them for their input and promptly forget it. You have got to be bold, succinct and tastefully unique in your presentation or you will look like everyone else.

    Great info Erin (as always!!)

  2. Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter says:

    Hi Erin,
    Your post is ‘spot-on.’ I’ve encountered this situation from time to time, and will continue to do so. It’s human nature, I guess, for job seekers to want to ‘control’ the processes and results versus letting ‘go’ to a professional.

    Your impactful, direct, yet gentle communication with the potential client is impressive. It also is a great illustration of why letting go of one’s resume to a career writer experienced in showcasing a professional’s brand and unique value drivers is essential to standing apart among throngs of job seekers in this hyper competitive job search environment.

    As you so aptly stated, soliciting friends’/colleagues’ advice may actually ‘hinder’ their job-search efforts. An effective resume written by a trained resume writer (like YOU) can help catapult one’s job search efforts to new heights.

    Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

  3. As always Jacqui, you have a poetic way with words. Thank you for the nice comment!! –Erin

  4. Dawn,
    I agree! Why hire me? But I DO get it. Just unnerves me when their “expert” friend is the night shift manager at McDonald’s (not that there is anything wrong w/that position). 😉 Just sayin’.
    I laughed about “Uncle George”. I get that a lot, too. I think some people just aren’t aware of how different resumes are today than 20 years ago.

    Thanks for the enjoyable comment!

  5. I always enjoy these stories, when we hire we get some interesting resumes! Why hire you if they are capable of getting a job on their own? If they aren’t willing to take suggestions and professional advice, why pay the money for it?

  6. Cake Tips says:

    Resume is your wording about yourself. It should be simple yet should contain all the necessary information.It should show your true potential.I agree that professional resume writers can do wonders for a candidate.I am sure that if you will definitely get an interview call if your resume is built by a professional.

  7. Deon Perry says:

    Think of your resume as the single most important document ever written about you—unless you’ve had a biography published recently. This is the document which is going to support you, before, during and after the interview, in securing a satisfying and well-paying job.

  8. Recruiters skim through thousands of job applications every day, so a professional CV is the best way to get noticed, get the interview, and get the job

  9. Well said, Deon!

    Erin 🙂

  10. HAHA, I actually hired someone with this same situation. It was actually funny because this person is related and all but had two versions of the resume and i didn’t know about it until after two weeks of him starting the job. Nice writeup and thanks for sharing.

  11. Hi Erin,
    you are right, our friends or family members are not always right. Better then listening to my “friend’s aunt ” is to listen to myself.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] As a veteran career expert, entrepreneur, and speaker, he offers a humorous take on all things career. The first sentence of his vision statement on his blog says it all, “I am having fun […]

  2. […] a certified professional resume writer, makes a good point in one of her recent blog articles about hiring a professional resume writer… different field, but same […]

  3. […] More: What your cousin’s-friend’s-boss’s wife WON’T tell you about your resume […]

  4. […] video résumés.  Job listing sites have combined forces with social networking sites, and online résumés in such venues are often combined with video résumés. Sites that specialize exclusively in […]

  5. […] you are an older job seeker, avoid putting certain dates on your resume. There is no reason to tell an employer how old you are, but if you mention on your resume that you […]

  6. […] you are an older job seeker, avoid putting certain dates on your resume. There is no reason to tell an employer how old you are, but if you mention on your resume that you […]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Download Our Report:

5 Surefire Resume Tips To Dazzle The Employer & Get You To The Interview