How to Handle Resume Criticism

Resume Advice


If you’re between jobs or searching for work , then you’re by no means immune from professional criticism. And while you might find certain people’s advice meaningful and useful, you’ll likely receive some criticism that’s flat-out distracting and off-point. Here are a few simple tips that can help you navigate the subtleties of both good and bad resume advice.

1.     Consider the source.

Resume experts come in all shapes and sizes, and your best critics will possess either of two qualities that can help you:

a) A high level of skill and professional experience with resumes across every field (in other words, job search and HR pros)

b) A high level of knowledge in your specific subject area (in other words, current or former hiring managers who know what employers are looking for in tech, retail, healthcare, engineering, etc.)

If your critic has both of these credentials, open your ears and keep them open. If he has neither (for example, a friend, family member, or stranger), take the advice with the grain of salt.

2.     Keep an open mind.

Even if they’ve never once hired or interviewed a job candidate in your field, people are entitled to their opinions. And even a five-year-old might notice something about your resume that your perspective and emotions have prevented you from seeing.

But before you ignore guidance that seems obviously weak, biased, or based on limited experience, give it a moment of thought and consider seeking a second opinion. You have the final editorial say on your own document, so you don’t need to feel concerned or threatened by any outside suggestion.

3.     Think like a scientist. 

A resume either works or it doesn’t. You can follow the “rules” all day long, but if hiring managers are ignoring your application and you aren’t being called in for interviews, you’re resume isn’t working. Plain and simple. 

As you tackle this process, your goal doesn’t involve getting an A in resume class, or winning the blue ribbon resume prize at the county fair. Your goal involves getting a job. So don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things, color outside the lines, and test the waters. Just take careful notes on the results and be ready to change any move that doesn’t get you the attention you need.

4.     Respond diplomatically, no matter what.

When anyone offers you a bit of resume help—from a five-year-old to a hiring manger to a recruiter you’ve never met—be diplomatic, gentle, and courteous in your response. No matter the reasons behind the gesture, this person is doing you a favor on the surface, and that favor should be graciously acknowledged, whether you choose to take the advice or not. 

5.     Monitor your own critical tendencies.

Finally, carefully consider the resume advice you pass on to others who find themselves on the job market around you. Know the limitations of your expertise, and make sure your feedback is thoughtful, meaningful, and actionable.

Help Goes Full Circle

None of us accomplish anything in the professional world by acting alone. For every goal we achieve, there are others around us offering the help, support, and well-meaning guidance we need in order to stay on track. Recognize the network of support all around you, use it, and do what you can to keep it strong. Meanwhile, visit LiveCareer to build your own resume and get expert advice from resume-writing professionals. 

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