How Long Does a Professional Resume Writer Take to Write a Resume?

March 27th, 2014
This post has been edited to strike through the text about a relationship with JC Resumes. After getting the first comment from a trusted user (and friend), and more investigation, we determined that we didn’t want to have the JibberJobber brand/name associated with their services or brand.

Julie Walraven of Design Resumes has a great post titled The Chief Cause Of Many Poor Hiring Decisions.  She starts off with CareerBuilder’s new stat about how long hiring managers spend reviewing resumes…as we know, it’s pathetically low.

But then Julie takes her post in an unexpected direction: how long SHE, as a professional resume writer (she is certified and has been doing this, afaik, for over two decades): she will easily spend six hours creating a resume.  Usually that is for an entry-level person.  It’s not unusual for her to spend ten or more hours designing a resume.

Julie is a resume expert, having investing more than 10,000 hours in her trade to claim expertise.  When I lost my job I spent a couple of weeks fumbling around trying to piece together my own resume.  I had no expertise, experience or training… just an attitude that if I could put myself through two degrees, I could certainly write a one or two page document!


I didn’t understand that a resume was not simply a list with work history, dates and some “cool” action verbs.  I thought I could easily put that document together… but what I didn’t realize was what a great resume really is.

A great, even an excellent resume, is a marketing document. Coincidentally, a sucky resume is also a marketing document – it just screams: don’t hire me!

A resume is not a standard business document for filing away in a three ring binder, simply to be forgotten.  Your resume has a very specific purpose.  What’s more, the “judge” of your resume is going to take your days, weeks, and for some of you, months of work and give it a cursory 30 or 120 seconds… it’s almost an atrocity!

But really, spending less than two minutes really is NOT an atrocity.

You see, it’s not about YOU.  It’s not about the amount of work you put in.  It’s not about how amazing you are, how clever you are, or how dumb the viewer is for not “getting” how brilliant you are.

This is all about THEM. Pursuing you will reflect on them and could have an impact on their career. Are they capable of hiring the RIGHT person?  Can they hire the BEST person?  Or will they hire a dud, or a lemon?  This could cost them their job!  Hiring the wrong person could sink the entire company!

If an expert, like Julie Walraven, spends six hours to develop the most basic of resumes, which she can only do because she has over ten thousand+ hours of writing resumes, what makes you think that you, or I, without this expertise, can “throw something together” in a few hours, and have it be good enough (much less great!)?

The mistakes I would make would undoubtedly cause my resume to be in the “under-ten-seconds-and-then-throw-away” pile.  Whether that is a typo or a grammar mistake, or not using the best word(s) to put us in the right light, it will cost me.

I know there are people out there, including one of my favorite recruiters (Steve Levy… read his blog!) who say that we must write our own resumes, and hiring a resume writer is as good as hiring a charlatan (those are my words, but that’s the message I hear from him).  I agree that we should do a lot of work to help get the resume done.  We should put our hearts into it.  We should spend time going through our past, listing our accomplishments, and doing the very hard work of self- and career-evaluation.

But I still think we should run it past a real resume writer who will polish our final marketing document so that it gets more time, and more respect, from the person evaluating whether they should bring you in for an interview or not. (professional resume writers are not merely polishers.  They are experts in creating perhaps the most important marketing document at this point in your career)

Convinced you need resume help? I suggest considering either of these two options:

First Option: look for someone who’s experience matches exactly what you need and who you are.  There are resume professionals like Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes) who are so focused on executives, especially finance executives, that you should NOT consider using someone who doesn’t do finance executive resumes before talking to someone like her.  There are resume experts that specialize in IT executives, CEOs, entry level (recent college graduates), and everywhere inbetween.  When you are looking for the right match, don’t disrespect these professionals and tell them how the process works.  See if they are a right fit, and then humbly work with them within their system.  Otherwise, you might hear a very kind “I’m not sure I’m the right person for you – let me recommend you to one of my colleagues.”  That really means “I wouldn’t choose to work with you for double the money – I can tell you are going to be a massive pain to work with.

Second Option: if you are looking for a low-cost just-get-me-to-the-next-level and clean up what I already have, consider JibberJobber’s new partnership with JC Resumes (we have negotiated discount bundle available to you to get you what you need).  I have been hesitant to do a partnership like this for YEARS.  But I have talked to the owners of this service and I always come back to “is this high quality?  I don’t want to recommend a resume mill that just pumps them out like typists.”  I have asked them about their writing and quality process, and I’m really quite impressed.  I personally should have spent the money to do this instead of wasting a week or two trying to write my own… get it done, have something you can be proud of, and if you find out it’s not good enough, then go back to the first option above.  But I doubt it will be money wasted. Here’s the page to get started.

We’re working on creating an list of specialized resume writers that you can reach out to on your own… stay tuned :)

The point is, make sure that you are putting enough time and resources into getting this marketing document put together the right way.



Bad Examples From Real Job Seekers

February 6th, 2014

liz_handlin_ultimate_resumesI follow my Austin buddy Liz Handlin, owner of Ultimate Resumes, on Facebook and am entertained by her experiences with job seekers. Here’s something she shared on Facebook recently…. see my comments below the box. (I [edited] some of this to try to protect anyone who needs protecting, although I imagine this plays out dozens of times each month)

Stupid things that people do when interviewing for a job #4,000:

[Someone] called to tell me about a guy she interviewed for a job at her company yesterday. She … never would have chosen to interview him because he had a 1 page resume with a colorful timeline in the middle of his resume and little useful information.

Interviewer: I see that you have a 1 page resume. There isn’t much information on here so it’s hard for me to assess your accomplishments.

Candidate: Well I am really trying to push people to look at my LinkedIn page and not my resume. That is where you can see the bulk of my experience.

Interviewer: (looks at resume and notices that his LinkedIn address is NOT EVEN ON THE RESUME) Hmmm.

Two main problems (these are Liz’s observations and advice):

  1. if you want interviewers to see your LinkedIn profile put the address on your resume, and
  2. your resume should be comprehensive enough that an interviewer doesn’t have to go anywhere else to get a good sense for your accomplishments. Don’t create more work for interviewers.

Folks, seriously. The MAIN issue here is that the job seeker (aka, the marketer, or person marketing their services) made it HARD for the decision-maker (buyer) to make a decision. What’s worse, they intentionally made it harder!

I get that you want people to get to your LinkedIn profile, but consider your audience, and the situation.  If you are in an interview, the interviewer usually has their resume in front of you (so they don’t mix you up with the fifty other people they are interviewing/considering).    If your resume doesn’t have any meat, what are they to do?  Remember how awesome your LinkedIn profile is?


Give them the information they need when they need it, which is on the resume.

I know you want your LinkedIn profile to be your resume, but for now, until people catch up to your vision, you need to play the game.  They expect a marketing document from you that has sufficient information (aka, your resume), and they use this marketing document to compare you with your competition, who has a similarly formatted marketing document (aka, resume).  If your formatting is not close enough to the rest, you might be discarded.  If your information is not deep or broad enough, and the others are, you might be discarded.

This is called “the game.”  For now, the rules are established, and they have been for decades.  You can try to make a statement and change the rules, and it might work with some companies and some people, but you risk losing out to others who know the rules of the game.

I don’t need to talk about the one-page thing, or the graphic in the middle thing, but I do want to address the “go to my Profile” issue.

On my webinars I tell people that they need to understand the concept of channel and destination.  This job seeker was using his resume as a channel to get to the destination (the LinkedIn profile).  He did it poorly, by not putting a link, but still, that was his intention.

Are you sure you really want to send someone to your LinkedIn profile as the destination?  Or, are you hoping the LinkedIn profile is one more step in the channel to get to the destination? I can’t answer that for you, but for me:


When I was finishing my basement the heating and air guys came in.  We talked about where we wanted vents, and they said every time you put a bend in the duct work it decreases efficiency (after they bend) by some crazy amount, like 25% or 33%.  In other words, every time the air has to bend (usually at 90 degrees), you lose efficiency.  Put a bunch of bends in one line and you won’t get much air out of the vent.

This is the same for the channel/destination concept.  Each time you give someone something with the hope that they will go somewhere else, you lose a part of their interest.  Just send them to where you want to send them first, without having them jump through hoops, go around bends, and ultimately get distracted!




Resume vs. the ATS (or software that you have to get through before you are considered)

January 24th, 2014

I’ve seen a lot of conversation asking how to create a resume that will pass through the Applicant Tracking System software (ATS) that some companies use.

Before I go on, I should share that I don’t think that a lot of companies use automated resume scanning.  The companies I worked at, where I was in a hiring capacity, did not (and I’m sure at least one of them does not today).  Smaller companies that hire infrequently probably don’t have an ATS.  Hiring was something we did when we needed to, and we made it up as we went along, much like many startups would.  It’s not the multi-level sophistication that you would expect at a big company that hires a lot, like IBM, Microsoft, etc.

In other words, the advice in the link below will apply sometimes, with some target companies, but the strategy to get through an ATS is not an all-inclusive strategy for anyone who owns a resume.

AND, remember that you are supposed to try to network into a company as often as you can, as opposed to apply online for all the openings you can find.

With that in mind, check out this Lifehacker link addressing the issue.  They have a good graphic showing what an ATS is (as it relates to resume scanning), and some good points on how to optimize your resume to make it through the cuts.

How Can I Make Sure My Resume Gets Past Resume Robots and into a Human’s Hand?

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Understanding the ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems)

November 7th, 2013

There is a lot of buzz about how to get your resume through an ATS (aka: applicant tracking system).  An ATS is to a recruiter what JibberJobber is to a job seeker.  It is a tracking system.

Before I go on, if you don’t think you need JibberJobber to keep track of your job search, realize that HR and recruiters are using some kind of ATS or tracking system to keep track of you.  Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – get on JibberJobber!

So here’s a great article on ATS systems: Ensuring Your Résumé Avoids Applicant Tracking System Pitfalls

In yesterday’s Ask The Expert call with The Recruiting Animal, Animal said he doesn’t use an ATS, and that is really something that internal recruiters are going to use.  In other words, getting your resume through an ATS is not going to be an issue for ALL recruiters.

Check out Arnie’s article:)


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What do you do with a Killer Resume?

May 22nd, 2013

Recently a JibberJobber user sent me a resume that one of my colleagues did for him and asked me what I thought.

The resume was really quite impressive.  I’m not surprised. The resume writer is someone who has been doing this for a long time and loves to stay current and do a great job.

My first impression after looking at the resume was that this guy had decades of doing amazing things.  The companies he worked at, and the products he worked on, are household names.

If I were interviewing I would want to satisfy curiosities and ask more.  I would want to ask stories about his experience.  Some of my questions would be because it would be intriguing to know, and others to learn how involved and instrumental he really was in each of the things he claims on his resume.

He needs to go through his resume, pull out every claim, and put at least one story behind it.

In JibberJobber we have the Interview Prep area, where you can put those stories together, and even “categorize” them so you can pull them up when you are getting ready for an interview. (I recommend categorizing based on industry, title (aka, profession), or size/type of company, but you could categorize based any criteria.  Use the Interview Prep in JibberJobber to create those stories.

I’m not much for critiquing resumes.  I almost always decline when someone asks me to look at their resume.  But I opened this one and that was my very first impression.  You have a great resume, now what?  Be ready to TELL STORIES!

My second thought was to be careful not to ask too many UNQUALIFIED people their opinion of the resume you just got.  I asked people for opinions of my resume and the information I got was misleading (making me think it was great, while it really kept me out of interviews).  Everyone will have their opinion but recognize this is a marketing tool to get you interviews, and that is it.  Dick Bolles talked about resumes very frankly in our last Ask The Expert – you can view the interview here (he comes on 20 minutes into it).



ATE: Nick Corcodilos of Ask The Headhunter Fame

April 8th, 2013

I had the pleasure of interviewing and chatting with Nick Corcodilos for last week’s Ask The Headhunter.  It was a blast.  I had questions for Nick but the audience had a lot, too.

Here’s the conversation, enjoy!

Note: Vimeo video.  To make this full-size, push play and then on the bottom right click the icon that looks like this:



Jargon, Alphabet Soup, A Spoon

December 17th, 2012

If you have heard me speak you know how I feel about JARGON.

Check out Dawn Bugni’s post on Facebook:

Wow. This #resume should have come with a spoon. So many undefined acronyms, person’s value is lost in alphabet soup.


There you go.  New etiquette rule: if you put the jargon and acronyms in, include a spoon :)

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Ask The Expert: Karen Huller: I Have a Resume – Now What???

November 20th, 2012

This is the second in our Ask The Experts series.  The video with Karen Huller is below.

The first Ask the Expert was with Kim Mohuiddin, and it was all about your resume.  You can watch it here.

Here are the next Ask the Expert webinars – sign up at the links (all webinars are listed here):

Dec 5 – Why your elevator pitch is stuck: The Zen of Personal Branding: Jon Sosa (9am MT) [register]

Jan 8 – Career Management 2013 with Jason Alba (that is me :p) (9am MT) [register]

Feb 5 – Non-traditional Jobs, Alternative Income Streams: Tim Tyrell-Smith (9am MT) [register]

Mar 5 – Want a Job Where You Can Make a Difference – and a Good Living? Consider the Association Industry: Charlotte Weeks (9am MT) [register]

Apr 2 – Ask The HeadHunter ANYTHING: Nick Corcodilos (9am MT) [register]

Here’s Karen Huller’s November session, enjoy!

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You Just Got Laid Off. When Do You Get Your Resume Together?

May 24th, 2012

My first week, after I lost my job, was a week of looking for my resume. After not finding it, I spent time trying to recreate it.

Looking back on it now I see that week as a colossal waste of time.

I recently heard of a job seeker who did the same thing I did… spent the first week looking for his old resume, then recreating what he remembered to be the most amazing document.

Knowing what I know now, here’s how I would spend the first week (it’s a GIVEN that I’d use JibberJobber to organize all this stuff :p):

  1. Listing my Target Companies,
  2. Looking for people on LinkedIn that work at (or have worked at) those Target Companies.
  3. Making contact with those people, as well as others in my industry and town/city, and asking for informational interviews.

I would do this the very first day.  I might not get any informational interviews for a week or two or three, but I need to get that “pipeline” filled up.

I’d also learn everything I could about informational interviews.  I’m guessing 98% of job seekers do them wrong.

In my spare time, and only after I’ve reached out to contacts for informational interviews (which I should do every day), I would work on my LinkedIn Profile, and start the resume creation process (it would be worth the few hundred dollars to have a professional write my resume.  I learned that the wrong way).

I had to get my resume done so I could apply to job openings I found on job boards…. right?  That’s what I thought.  I went about it all wrong.

Please don’t waste the first week of your job search like I did.



The Smell of Blood in your Job Search

June 7th, 2011

One of my most favorite posts/ideas is from a few years ago, when I was talking to an HR friend, who basically told me I was too whiny, and acting in a way that would repel HR.

At first I didn’t like what I heard from my friend, but then I realized I needed to hear it, and change some things.

You can see the original post here: I smell blood! I liked it so much it because one of the first Favorite Friday posts I did, here.

Last night I got a Google Alert pointing to a post by Jennifer Bulman, at The Portable You, titled Please Don’t “Apply Anyway”

This is a brilliant post with a key story that YOU need to read.  Go read it. Here’s one of my favorite parts (but you have to read the story to get this better):

In his recent post I Smell Blood, career expert Jason Alba spoke to the importance of not letting anyone we talk with during our job search “smell blood.” Without discounting the wound of unemployment, Alba advises “Do what you can or need to do to not be hurt…”An important way to avoid re-opening the wound is to avoid scenarios where you *will* be rejected. That is why I suggest you not apply to be second violin in the National Arts Center orchestra (unless, of course, you are an experienced violinist).

I love what she wrote (I bolded it).  DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF FAILURE … Yes, take risks, but realize that if you aren’t qualified for certain things (especially federal jobs) you’ll fail, and then you might smell all bloody and repel not just HR but everyone around you!

Thanks , Jennifer, for the additional thought :)


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