This week, the LiveCareer team deals answers a few questions from readers that address the grammatical, practical, and ethical issues of resume writing and editing help.
Question #1: Writer’s Block
“I’m a terrible writer. But I just graduated from college and I’m entering a profession in which written communication is essential for success. I managed to finish college with a decent GPA because I’m fine with test-taking and I always had plenty of friends and tutors who could help me with my essays and papers. But now I’m on my own, and I’m not sure how to tackle the challenges of a resume and cover letter. Should I just pay somebody to write them for me?”
We’ll break our advice down into two statements: First, you’re going to need to get around this problem, my friend. Hiding your weakness forever won’t help you, it isn’t sustainable, and this course of action will ultimately create more problems than it solves. Just face your challenge head on, take a writing course, and put this thing behind you.
Second, yes, paying someone to write your resume will help you land a job. And if you need a job, this may be your best option right now. Just recognize that you may struggle to excel at the job you ultimately find, and until this issue is resolved, you’ll just be kicking a can down a road that will eventually end.
Question #2: Too Much Input?
“I went to a resume editor and asked her to review my resume for typos and grammatical errors. When she handed it back to me, it was an entirely different document. She literally rewrote the entire thing. I have to admit that it’s better now—it’s easier to read and it makes me look like a better candidate without changing a single fact or exaggerating my credentials—but I’m not comfortable with this. It just isn’t my work, and it’s written in a voice that doesn’t sound like mine. What should I do?”
The document belongs to you, so if you don’t like it, change it back. Or just change the parts that you’d prefer to present in your own voice. Don’t get upset with your editor—she’s just doing her job. Instead, tweak each sentence and phrase so you can keep what works and change what doesn’t. When you’re satisfied, start submitting it to employers and don’t look back.
Question #3: Does Honesty Pay Off?
“My resume editor also happens to be a job search advisor and a close friend, and she’s giving me lots of ‘advice’ that’s probably effective, but not very honest. As it turns out, there are lots of ways to manipulate the truth and misrepresent yourself in a resume, and some of these tricks actually work (at least according to my friend they do.). Should I go down this sketchy path, or stay honest and take my chances along with everyone else?”
Stay honest and take your chances. After you land a job (which you will, followed by another, and then another), you’ll be glad that your track record is built on honest decisions and your integrity is intact. Besides, lying your way into a mismatched job can complicate your life very quickly.
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