Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Career Counseling and College Counseling

This morning, I was interviewed for an article or series on my thoughts related to career and college counseling. Here are a few ideas you might find helpful:
  • Hiring a resume writer is no more ethical than a high school student hiring a professional to write his or her college application essay. Imagine you were looking to hire someone, even if it was a job working with their hands. Wouldn't you appreciate being able to judge how well the applicants organize their thoughts? When an applicant hires a resume writer, s/he gets an unfair advantage--the employer sees the resume writer's thinking and communication skills, not the applicant's. Resume writing is an unethical profession.
  • It's far more valid to pick a career or job based on its meeting your career's non-negotiables (e.g., primarily using words, working at home, non-profit work, whatever) than by trying to come up with some career that matches your skills, interests, values, etc. An attempt at the latter usually fails for a variety of reasons (I've written about them HERE,) whereas the former succeeds far more often.
  • High school counselors and college admissions people would be far more ethical if they stopped pushing nearly every inquirer to go to college. (They feel particular pressure to do so for "underrepresented" minorities.) Instead, using success-rate statistics as available, they should help the student decide whether s/he'd most likely be successful and happy at a four-year college (which by the way, usually takes much more than four years,) two-year college transfer program, short-term community college training program, apprenticeship, on-the-job learning, or self-employment.
  • Career counselors would add far more value if they did not focus on helping people find a career or land a job. Instead, they should focus on helping people succeed in the current job, and learn how to be master users of Google--a window to so much information--if you know how to time-effectively access it.


Chris said...

Great stuff as usual.

I am a little confused on the second bullet. Should it read "an attempt at the latter usually fails...the former succeeds"?

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, Chris for reading it carefully enough to find the error and then taking the time to let me know about it. I've, of course, now fixed it.

Maureen Nelson said...

For a different opinion, see Professionally Written Resumes: Evil or Good?.

I know you don't think resumes make for interesting radio, but if you ever had on someone like Evil HR Lady, you could ask her about this. Is it ethical to hire someone for specialized resumes like Federal?

Marty Nemko said...

No, Maureen. Per my comment on your blog, info on how to do a federal resume is widely available on the Net and in books such as Lily Whiteman's, Kathyrn Troutman's, etc.

The analogy between resume writers and people hired by students to write their college application essays is apt.

Robin Schlinger said...

As a Professional Resume Writer, I am currently writing a Federal resume for a laborer level position - requires 7 essays along with a Federal resume for her to get the position.

She is known well by the people who are hiring for the position (as a motivated person she has volunteered to work for them for six months and has more than 10 years related experience) - and based on her demonstrated SKILLS AND ABILITIES they would like to hire her for the position. However, the HR department (not the hiring manager) has designated how one must apply for the job - and they have prepared a very strenuous application process.

For the hiring manager to hire her, she has to be one of the top three people selected for the postion based on her resume and the 7 essay questions. If she does not have a professional help her - she will not be one of the top three.

Writing is not one of the skills required to be in this position AND is not the subject of any of the questions or job duties, but is a skill required to write a resume and essay questions. She will be doing physical labor, using her training and skills. She will not be writing for the job, nor organizing written materials.

Before coming to me, she spent days trying to write the resume herself, unsuccessfully. When she showed her application to the hiring manager, he recommended for her to go to a professional to help her with the resume so she could apply and get the position. This way, the hiring manager can hire the person who has demonstrated to him, on the job, the required skills and knowledge to get the position.

In this case, why do you think having a resume writer help her is not ethical?

Debbi said...

Dr. Nemko -

I read both your most recent blog and Maureen Nelson's, as well as your comment to her. How do you rationalize the following two statements (both yours)?

1] “Resume writing is an unethical profession.” [from your blog]

2] …”when a person explicitly asks for a resume writer, I figure, he’s going to hire someone, it might as well be someone I respect–and that’s where you come in.” [from your comment in response to Maureen's blog]

Are you implying that not all professional resume writing is unethical? Or, conversely, that you have respect for some people [Maureen, for instance] who do unethical things for a living? I would appreciate your explanation of how these two apparently contradictory statements can be reconciled.

Many thanks!

Robin Schlinger said...

As far as using your example for Kathryn Troutman's books - she has written them to SELL HER SERVICES as a resume writer and coach - if you go to her website, you will see she is a Resume Writer.

I know this, because I took her resume writing certification course from her - Certified Federal Resume Writer and Coach - several years ago. You use as an example a book by someone who gained the expertise to write the book by writing resumes for folks who could not write them - and all of the examples in the book were written by professionals.

Marty Nemko said...

Robin, in THAT case, where the government, mindless as usual, imposes mechanistically its one-size-fits-all application process on all jobs, even laborer!), you're right, I don't have a problem with a candidate using a resume writer. But that's an anomaly. Most times a resume writer is writing the resume for a person for which, to a greater or lesser extent, the skills required to write a resume are going to be useful on the job: writing, organizing, thinking skills.

Marty Nemko said...

Robin, do you really fault me for suggesting that people read a resume-writing book? Does her being a resume writer negate the value of a book? And the fact that the resume samples in her book were written by professionals doesn't reduce the integrity of an individual using that book to learn the principles of writing a resume? And do you really want to justify the legitmacy of the resume-writing profession, with tens of thousands of practitioners, because they provided a bit of content for resume-writing books? The issue is: is it ethical for someone else to write your resume? And for the reasons I've stated and in my next comment (which were made in response to criticism of my position made on another blog), the answer is, to me, clearly NO.

Marty Nemko said...

I've decided to use this topic on my KGO Radio show tomorrow night (Sunday) at 9:08 PM, so in preparation, so I took the time to respond to the four people who, on another person's blog (Resume Writer, Maureen Nelson) disagreed with my contention that having someone else write your resume is unethical. I reproduce my responses here:

In response to Miriam:
-- I DO believe that even having someone proofread your resume is no more ethical than a student, on a take-home exam, having someone review their work before the student submitted it. The resulting product therefore would not fully the job applicant's work. The student, or in the case of a resume written by a resume proofreader, the employer is misled, yes, misled, into thinking the candidate has better writing skills and is more detail-oriented in having fixed all errors than in fact s/he is.

-- Far worse, resume writers do far more than proofread someone's resume. Proofreading refers to eliminating an extra comma, a typographical spelling error, etc. Every resume writer I know WRITES the person's resume. If they were proofreaders, they'd call themselves not a Resume Writer but a Resume Proofreader, and virtually no one would hire them.

-- Miriam asserts that buying clothing for an interview rather than sewing them is as misleading as using a resume writer. Really?! The employer assumes all the candidates bought their clothes and, unless the job opening is for a seamstress, wouldn't care whether they bought or sewed their clothes. But a resume reflects the person's thinking, writing, organizational ability, and detail-orientedness, all of which bear, to at least some extent, on most jobs. If someone else writes the resume for candidate A but not for candidate B, it's truly unfair both to the employer trying to pick the best candidate and of course, to candidate B. And no, there is no ethical divide between asking a friend or asking a resume writer to write your resume. Both are equally unethical.

Regarding Chuck's comments:
-- Of course it's possible to have a misleading advantage. If an athlete takes a banned performance enhancing substance, it's an misleading advantage. It misleads the opponents, the referees, and the fans into thinking the player is better than they are, and results in winning games unfairly.

-- No, I don't believe everyone can, without doing some research, know how to write a resume. That, like every other endeavor, is what books and articles are for, including mine. There's a world of difference between a job applicant reading an article on the principles of writing a resume and then writing it than to get someone else to write their resume. The person having read that article(s) demonstrates that he has the motivation and ability to do research to prepare to do a project well. That's infinitely different than hiring someone to do it. On the job, the person won't be hiring someone to do the research preparation for the projects he has to do. Think about it? Is there no difference between an artist, who, in preparing to create a painting, reads books and articles on it, and hiring someone to paint the picture?

With regard to Debra's comment, I respect that Maureen is a bright and very dedicated career counselor and so, if a person comes to me asking for a resume writer, I know he'll get SOME resume writer to do it, so I might as well refer the person to Maureen, even though I don't believe that when she's writing someone's resume, she's being ethical.

Debbi said...

I'm confused. If you truly believe that Maureen's resume writing is unethical, why would you support her in that activity? And why would you risk your own reputation to propel a trusting client into such a "den of iniquity"?

Does that not violate your own code of ethics? You are, in essence, saying, "This woman is a shyster, but if you really want to work with someone underhanded, she's the best."

If you really believe that professional resume writers are unethical, you should simply say, "No, in good conscience, I cannot give you a referral to a practitioner of unethical activities." I don't see how you can have it both ways.

Marty Nemko said...

Debbi, perhaps I should have done that, and maybe in the future I won't refer anyone to resume writers, but my thinking was this: when someone says they're GOING to hire a resume writer, they're going to do that whether or not I say it's unethical. So, I figured that I'd refer that person to someone who I know to be OTHERWISE worthy of respect. I'd say that's a far smaller ethical violation than BEING a resume writer, for the reasons I've outlined.

Debbi said...

What do you mean by a "smaller" ethical violation?

Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, said: "There is no such thing as a small ethical violation — Not every breach of ethical standards is a hanging offense, but all breaches must be considered and treated as serious and significant. The surest way undermine a culture of ethical behavior is to ignore or minimize unethical conduct."

Maureen Nelson said...

Debbi, I believe Marty's using the harm reduction model: "I don't think you should shoot heroin, but if you're going to, use a clean needle and have someone nearby to drive you to the hospital when you OD." I agree, in a black'n'white world, Marty shouldn't refer any people to RWs, but Marty rarely goes for black'n'white. There's a lot of gray in real life. In my case, it's moot. Because of this discussion, I no longer write resumes; I only advise on how to approach a revision.

Marty, I disagree that the best thing CCs can do is help people make the most of their current job. A ton of people want to get out of their jobs. I even want to get out of my job. IMO, you were closer to hitting the nail on the head with helping people "develop a career development plan" (stated off-blog). I'd phrase it "helping people learn career management" -- something that should be taught in the schools from young'uns on up -- along with entrepreneurship. I don't think we're all cut out to run our own businesses, but I think everyone should have a sideline and more people than CCs should know what a "portfolio career" is. Thanks for doing what you do best -- opening up an honest discussion about tough topics.

Marty Nemko said...

I respectfully disagree, Debbi. Bernie Madoff's scam is not the same as my referring someone who wants a resume writer to Maureen Nelson.

Robin Schlinger said...

Thanks for recognizing that in some cases Resume Writers are needed.

I believe we have a fundamental difference in our understanding of what a resume is. A resume, as it is used today, is supposed to communicate to a potential employer a person's ability to do a job. Additionally, you represent it is also a test of their ability to do job skills. I do not agree.

I believe, simply, a RESUME is a marketing document which clearly communicates a person's value and how they can meet the job requirements. It is NOT a test of a person’s writing, thinking or organizational ability. It is up to the hiring company - once they find a person who on paper meets their needs - to test them to be sure they can do the job.

Therefore, as long as a person's career depends on a resume AND an employer is reading a resume to determine initially the POTENTIAL for a job fit, it should clearly communicate a person's worth and value - so EMPLOYERS can find the people they need for a job. If a person cannot express their own worth themselves, getting help to clearly communicate their worth authentically makes sense to me.

Just as a company hires a marketing company to communicate the benefits of their products - as we control our careers, we should hire experts to help us. We hire Doctors, Lawyers and Accountants to help us with key portions of our lives - even though I could read about how to do this in books.

Even IF writing resumes can show people's organizing, thinking and writing skills which may be necessary for a job - the resume format itself is NOT necessary for 99+% of jobs out there. It is an unnatural format - and requires a writing style that is not used for most forms of job-required written documentation. In light of your other comments, I ask, is it unethical for someone to SPEND MONEY on a book and COPY verbiage and formats to write their resume? How is this different than hiring a resume writer?

In our society, people are taught to be modest about themselves and their achievements. I have written resumes for world-famous folks who have omitted their top achievements in their resumes - since they thought these achievements did not apply to the job they were seeking. They read resume books, their resumes followed the right format - yet they had not landed the jobs they want. I have found people do not fundamentally understand what they do that is easy is exactly what makes them special and what others are looking for. In addition, in many cases, people searching for jobs are panicked, believe they have no value, need to get a job any job and are unable to focus on writing a good resume. This does not impact their ability to do a good job once they find a job.

I have reviewed thousands of resumes. The number of people looking for jobs at too low a level - with awful resumes that have not gotten them a job - is appalling - when simply learning how to express their worth more succinctly, would help them. In these cases, our society loses the experience of these highly skilled people simply for their inability to understand how to state their value in a resume. Until we find a better way to match people in jobs, I believe I do folks a favor by helping them identify their "gifts and skills" and then clearly stating them, so potential EMPLOYERS can identify them.

When I was an engineer (for more than 20 years after getting my degree from MIT), I wrote many papers and did many projects. Even though I had years of training; I often consulted with other experts. I had patents - which were the result of collaboration - and would not have been as good without it. I wrote papers - and I am a good writer - but they also needed editing and review to be the best they could be.

Seeking professional help on a document which can be one of the most important in a person’s life is something, as an EMPLOYER, I would EXPECT from someone seeking a job that requires teamwork. I would actually think more highly of a person who seeks out the help they need to get the job done right!

Jeff Jones said...

I can`t follow your logic on this recent blog post comment. In fact, I used a resume writer that you yourself previously recommended to a friend. She did a fantastic job, and it was honestly the best money I ever spent.

One of my weak points is lay-out and design. I had all the information gathered for my resume; she just put it in a nice looking document and tweaked it a bit. It saved me a lot of stress and time, and eliminated a lot of procrastination on my part ("I can`t apply for jobs until I get my resume finished.")

I agree that fudging information or misrepresenting yourself on a resume is unethical. I did not do this and neither did the resume writer. She did give my information a much better presentation. I consider this analogous to an artist designing your book cover, or a publishing house laying out the text of your book.

I have benefited greatly from your career advice over the years, and find that your advice is usually accurate and thought provoking. But I just can`t understand this recent comment. Personally, I would advise anyone with mediocre design/layout skills to hire a professional resume writer. It`s really no different than outsourcing any other weak point, unless you are applying for a job in graphic design or publishing. A resume is really just a way to get an interview, right? If a company hires someone based solely on a resume, they are quite foolish.

Resume writing is win win. It is a great under the radar career, and helps a lot of people who don`t have experience writing a professional resume. If a specific resume writer lies or misrepresents information, that is a different story. But to label all resume writers unethical is a bit strange.

You said that it is an "unfair advantage", but what isn`t? The fact that I can afford a nice suit to wear to a job interview is an unfair advantage, or that I am more handsome or younger than the next candidate (I`m not, just an example), or the fact that I am smart enough to listen to "Work With Marty Nemko" are also unfair advantages.

As always, I appreciate the service you provide to job seekers, and thinkers in general.

Jeff Jones said...

I would also add that reaching a bit higher is often the only way to move up in the job world.

You often talk about how theoretical education is overvalued and how "on the job" training and practical experience is a good idea. I agree.

A lot of stuff you truly learn on the job. But if you can't ever get your foot in the door, it becomes a Catch 22. I certainly don't blame anyone for framing their current skills in the best light, as long as they are willing to realize that a step up will be a challenge.

Marty Nemko said...

Robin, as you well know, employers receive dozens, hundreds, even thousands of applicants per job and must use the resume as a screening tool, not just for job history but for ability to think, organize, and write, which are proxies for intelligence--important on most jobs, except perhaps for the lowest-level laborer-type job you cited. Employers lament that some people choose to hire a resume writer and others don't, which forces them to make screening decisions with less validity because it's often not clear which is which.

If as you assert, employers expect and accept that people hire resume writers, then why don't you, on every one of the resumes you write for people, say, "This resume was written for the client by Robin Schlinger?"

Marty Nemko said...

Jeff, it's not worth fighting over the ethics of a resume writer who just formats the resume prettily. Unless the job requires such a skill, I don't have a problem with that. The fact is, however, that the vast majority of resume writers do far more than pretty-up a job seeker's draft resume.

Your analogy to the suit is invalid. In wearing a suit, you're not misrepresenting that you made the suit. In contrast, in having a resume writer (not just pretty-up) write your resume, you're misrepresenting that your resume reflects your writing, organizing, and thinking skills at a critical point--when an employer is deciding whom to choose of the zillion candidates he should interview.

Marty Nemko said...

Yes, Jeff, reaching higher is fine, but always with ethics primary.

Marty Nemko said...

Oh Robin, I do want to say that while I disagree with you, I believe your comment is exemplary of the high-quality, intelligent exchange that makes blogging such a rich medium. I daresay that any resume writer or job candidate who read our exchange (and yes, to an extent, that other the other comments) would have been enriched. Thank you for caring enough to engage your obviously good mind in this discussion.


ST said...

From the exchanges here, it just goes to show you that besides our over rated/priced educational system, the resume may be a close second in being over rated.

Here's a contrarian hiring approach that is well worth the read:
I ran across it a while ago, and fortunately found my bookmark again.

If more employers would somehow have you demonstrate that you can do the job, at the job (including manual labor), it would be a much more thorough and efficient process.

Even though this article was written before the crash (and those guys might not even be around any more, or hiring much, who knows?), you'd think with it being a buyers market, it would work still these days.

Would it work for every job opening in a company to do this? (Maybe combine many job openings in the initial first visit). Does it cost much more? (What about the long term costs of quickly hiring mistakes?)

Anonymous said...

I notice that the professional résumé writers often spell it without the accents. As in “I must not resume writing my résumé”. It takes extra time to add the accents but it also means that you know how to use your computer.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I had never once paused to consider any of this from the standpoint of ethics.

Of course, I have to say I've always thought of resumes in the sense that Robin described: a marketing tool. In essence, having a nicely formatted resume would get HR to notice your qualifications, but the qualifications and how you handled yourself in the interview would be what got you hired.

You've certainly given me something to think about, but the conclusion I am reaching is that the whole shebang is hopelessly muddled and largely pointless.

I know many people, including my husband, that are just fine in the intellectual department (an IQ test put him around 127) but he was badly educated by the public schools he attended and so his writing and spelling are definitely not indicative of his intelligence.

I know another young man, gifted in graphic design, that was unfortunate enough to attend a school that taught "whole language" instead of phonics. He might spell a word correctly, but it will be the wrong word because it looks similar to the intended word. Again, his written words are definitely not an indication of his actual intelligence.

Also, there are quite a lot of people that have great organizational skills, but could not organize and format a computer document to save their lives. On the flip side, many people that are great at organizing a document have no ability to organize anything that is not a document. (And many jobs require organizational skills that have little, if anything, to do with formatting documents.)

So, we've set up a system where in order to obtain a shot at an interview for almost all jobs, one must demonstrate good academic knowledge. Of course, the system which is supposedly responsible for disseminating the academic knowledge has failed miserably.

In fact - it occurs to me that this system actually plays into another topic. Doesn't stressing an academic entry to the job interview process give an advantage to women over men?

A. Roberts

Maureen Nelson said...

"It's more valid to pick a career or based on non-negotiables than your skills, interests,"

"Are you a fix-it person, paperwork details person, numbers person?"

"If you were to write a book, what would it be about?"

Marty Nemko said...

That's why career counseling is an art. Yes, prioritize non-negotiables but a quick, look at one's core attributes--e.g., are you a people person, word person, fix-it/make it person, takes no time, adds some clarity to the career goal without creating overly prescriptive information.

Home based business for women said...

Top home based businesses for women can be a gold mine for the women who know how to capitalize on their preexisting skills. These skills are easily identifiable, they just have to be transferred to a new environment.

Anonymous said...

I suggest be partner with the resume writer. You still use your own thoughts but you are being guided. Everything in the resume is still your qualification, achievements and so on. It is good to seek assistance from an expert like resume writer Calgary so your resume will be organized and properly formatted.

Jennifer Rushton said...

Hi Marty, I’m confused by your comments to Jeff. As Jeff kindly pointed out, he sought a resume writer (referred by you) to develop his resume, as he lacked design and layout skills. She gave his resume a better presentation through tweaking and design. Which he highly recommends other job seekers to do (thank you Jeff).

On one had you are saying that if you hire a resume writer, ‘you're misrepresenting that your resume reflects your writing, organizing, and thinking skills at a critical point’, however, on the other hand, you tell Jeff that it is OK for the resume writer to format the resume prettily. She did more than this though, she tweaked the document as well. How is this showing Jeff’s organizing and thinking skills if he is outsourcing the tweaking and design layout to someone else? And is the employer not seeing the resume writer’s thinking and communication skills here, not the applicants?

As a resume writer myself, this is what I do for my clients – format and tweak the information so it best markets the client. Through an information gathering process, my clients provide me with the information for the resume. I tweak this information so it reads better and then I develop the format for an overall better presentation. How is this different to what Jeff mentioned, and to which you said is OK?

Unless you’re saying that the information gathering process I go through with my clients is unethical? But surely this can’t be unethical, as I’m just assisting my clients in understanding their value better. The results and achievements are theirs, I have not made these figures up. All the information that goes into the document is theirs, I just tweak and present it in a better light. I use the information that the client provided, their language to write the resume, their results, their skillset. So how is what I am doing, different to what Jeff’s resume writer did?

If resume writing was really unethical, then why do I have HR professionals and executive recruiters recommending my services. Recruiters recommend my services to candidates as it saves them having to sit down with the candidate to design and format the resume. It allows the recruiter to send the resume directly to their client. So I guess that is another question for you to ponder. As some recruiters develop candidate resumes for their clients, is that considered unethical too?

I think it is a bit harsh to call resume writing unethical. Sure, fudging information or misrepresenting the client is unethical, however, the majority of resume writers do not do this. We should not be judged based on a few bad apples.

Marty Nemko said...

The more I think about it, the more unethical I believe resume writers are. Sure, it's on a continuum, and if all you're doing, Jennifer, is making it prettier, it's pretty venial sin. But most resume writers do much more--some degree of writing, organizing, proofreading, etc. The employer does not use the resume merely to examine a person's work history. They use it as evidence of thinking, organizational, writing, and detail-orientation skills. If you do the work for them, then it is unfair not only to the boss but to applicants who do their own work, to coworkers who have to work with an inferior coworker, and to customers, and indirectly to society. If paying a hired gun to write your resume were ethical, why do you not write on each resume you write, "This resume was written by Jennifer Rushton, professional resume writer." The fact that some HR people recommend you means nothing. Our world is frightfully unethical.

Jennifer Rushton said...

Marty, I did not say that all I do is make the document prettier. I actually said I tweak the information that the client provides me and then develop this into a format that presents them in the best light, while keeping true to the client’s language so it is a reflection of them - their brand.

This process involves improving and fine tuning the writing style (tweaking), organizing and proofreading – which is also what your referral writer to Jeff would have done. In order to format a document so the presentation looks appealing, it requires organization.

And you’re right, an employer doesn’t use the resume merely to look at a candidate’s work history. They actually look at the resume for a range of skills – most importantly, answering the potential employer’s question of ‘what can he/she do for me’ by demonstrating that there is a clear fit between the candidate’s skills and the organization’s needs.

And as a resume writer, this is what I do. By asking the relevant questions to my clients, I am provided with an understanding of this clear fit. I then tweak this information to best highlight their key strengths and achievements using the client’s language.

I’m not sure what level job candidates you are referring to when you mention ‘they use it as evidence of thinking, organizational, writing, and detail-orientation skills’, however, this is not the focus for my executive clients. The people looking at hiring my executive clients are looking for individuals who can replicate their success in their previous roles which includes improving the bottom-line, change management, visionary leadership, resolving long term business issues, and brainstorming new ideas to name a few. Executives bring a unique skill set that enable them to handle the scope and stress of the job and this is what they need to communicate and show.

I believe the fact that HR staff and Recruiters recommend my services speaks volumes, as it demonstrates that this industry wants a resume which can show a candidate’s clear fit for the role. The feedback I receive is not that the potential boss thinks it’s unfair that the candidate has a professionally written resume. They know the resume is professionally written. When they ask ‘Wow, who wrote your resume?’, my clients provide this information – which of course leads to them seeking my services as they understand the value of a well written and presented resume in this competitive industry.

And why don’t I write "This resume was written by Jennifer Rushton, professional resume writer" on each resume? I guess the best way to answer that is ‘Does Apple put the name of their advertising agency on all of their marketing slogans, commercials and documentation?’ The answer of course is No. The potential buyer isn’t interested in who developed the marketing documentation. The potential buyer is interested in what Apple can offer and how it can meet their needs.

I don’t believe that our world is unethical. Sure, there are people who are unethical, however, overall I believe people in this world are good. Each of us are entitled to our opinions, so I guess we will agree to disagree. Like Harv Eker and Tony Robbins, I believe your focus determines your reality and my focus is to be of value to my clients.

All the best Marty.

Marty Nemko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marty Nemko said...

The more that a resume writer "tunes" the writing style, organizes it, and proofreads it, the more unethical it is--the resume writer is deceiving the employer into thinking the job candidate can write, organize, and handle details better than s/he can. And in fact, most resume writers do this to a far greater extent than you imply. They are not "a few bad apples." They are the norm. After all, they call themselves resume WRITERS, not resume editors.

Of course, resume writers do clarify what the candidate can do with regard to certain skills but the benefit of that additional clarification is much outweighed by the serious obfuscation of their ability to think, organize, right, and handle details.

It's ironic that you're defending the use of resume writers with clients seeking jobs as executives. More than most employees, executives must be excellent in thinking, writing, organizing, handling details. It is especially important that employers assess whether a prospective candidate for an executive position has those skills.

With regard to referring Jeff to a resume writer, I have long believed it ethically dubious to do resume writing, which is why I have--except in moments of weakness--chosen not to accept clients who want me to be their resume writer but occasionally referred them to one. But as I wrote in my most recent comment, I've done more thinking about it and, per that comment, have come to conclude that the resume writing enterprise is so ethically bankrupt and with such negative impact on the other candidates, the employer, the co-workers, the customers, and ultimately the larger society, that I now refer people to other resume writers only in ethically justifiable situations, a clear example of which would be a limited-English speaking person seeking a job as a truck driver, where critical thinking, writing, organizing are very small components of the job, far outweighed by the benefit you mentioned of clarifying their skills and experiences related to truck driving.

Again, if all resume writers did was fine-tune resumes, why do they call themselves resume WRITERS. Mainly that's because few people would hire them if they called themselves resume editors.

Jennifer, resume writers truly are a net negative on the world. Is that the sort of career you want? Would you really want to tell your child, unvarnished, what you do and the impact on more qualified applicants who choose to do their own work rather than pay a hired gun to make them look like they can think, write, organize and handle details better than they really do? Would you really want to tell your child the impacts on the employer, the co-workers, the customers, and the larger society? It really is no more ethical than hiring someone to write your college application essay, probably less ethical because of the larger impacts of hiring an inferior person.

And on that note, we must end this discussion. I've given you my best thoughts in hopes that you and others might devote your talents to a more beneficial pursuit.


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