Resume Tips: How to Turn Harsh Criticism Into a Great Resume

If you hand your resume over to friends, family, or impartial advisors (which you should!), you’ll get plenty of valuable feedback in return. But some forms of resume feedback may be a little more valuable than others, and in some cases, you may have to push your ego aside and read between the lines in order to make the most of what you’re told. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you extract necessary lessons from potentially painful criticism.

1. Confusion is the most valuable criticism of all.

If your reader responds to your resume with a long list of questions, that’s great. Tackle each question individually and get every one of them answered before you submit to employers. Any feedback that starts with the words “I’m confused…” is pure gold. Especially if it’s followed by a statement like “…did you actually run the department or not?” or “…were you the Assistant Manager, or the Assistant TO the Manager?” or “ 

2. “Is this claim impressive to managers in your industry? Because I have to be honest: it doesn’t impress me.”

If your readers are thinking this, you need to hear it—no matter how painful the message may be. If you’re boasting about an “accomplishment” that really isn’t, you need honest friends who will tell you so that you can exercise your delete key. It’s sometimes tempting to pad a resume with claims like “served customers daily,” or “addressed issues as necessary.” And sometimes it feels like a good idea to boast about a fairly average attendance record, or proficiency with simple, universal software tools. But don’t do this.

3. “Shouldn’t you have a few more promotions under your belt by now? I think it’s odd that you’ve held the same job for the last 10 years.”

If this is standing out to your friend, it may also stand out to a manager. And since there’s nothing odd about it at all, don’t apologize. In fact, find a way to shine a spotlight on your loyalty, your reliability, and your obvious sense of commitment.

4. “You’ve had five jobs in the last seven years? That’s not good. You’re coming off as a job hopper.”

Again, if your friend is getting this impression, an employer may feel the same way. But as with the issue above, there’s nothing wrong with this. So make sure you emphasize your ambition, your personal drive, and your obvious unwillingness to settle for mediocrity. 

5. Some criticism actually has no value.

In the rare event that your critic really doesn’t have your best interests in mind, it’s okay to just walk away. Sometimes people are just mean. In this case, you’ll need to shake off the cruel words before they undermine your confidence—and don’t let this person weigh in on your job search anymore from this point forward. 

Leverage Your Resume and Leave Your Competition Behind

Every word of your resume should help drive your overall message and support your case for being hired. Don’t let a single phrase, a line of text, or a word of valuable feedback go to waste. While you’re reaching out to your friends and editorial support team, visit LiveCareer for tools and templates that can help you make a strong impression.  

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