Earlier this month on the PBS Newshour website, headhunter Nick Corcodilos encouraged job hunters to commit “Resume Blasphemy” by ignoring traditional resume rules and not employing the services of a professional resume writer. Mr. Corcodilos has been a headhunter for over 30 years and is obviously successful, so I respect him for that. However, I think his advice on this subject should be taken cautiously for several reasons.

Mr. Corcodilos feels strongly that no one can write your resume better than you can. It’s true that there are many books and websites that can advise you on resume writing, but it’s also a fact that some people just aren’t resume writers, no matter how brilliant they are in their fields. The most gifted statistician or engineer may simply lack the skill to craft a resume-worthy sentence without relying too heavily on industry jargon and convoluted sentences. If you are attempting to change careers, it’s even more important to rely on someone who can “translate” your skills in a way that helps hiring managers in another field realize your potential.

If you decide to write your own resume and use a template, remember that it’s possible 90% of the candidates for the job you’re seeking used the same or similar template. In that case, your resume will just be one of the crowd and will likely not garner that coveted interview. Mr. Corcodilos suggests one way to make your resume stand out is to eschew the traditional experience, education, and skills elements and instead present a “working resume,” which outlines the work the company you’re applying to needs done and how you’d do it, and how much profit you’d add to the company. As a resume writer, I would be interested to know what response this sort of resume elicits from hiring managers.  Yes, knowing what needs to be done is important (if you can actually get that sort of information, which is often confidential), but potential employers want to see that you have actual experience doing it!

Your resume must tell the story of you – your talent, your accomplishments, your abilities. Mr. Corcodilos and I agree on one point: “Unless you work with a rare resume writer who interviews you in depth, this ‘story development’ won't happen.…” The story development isn’t guaranteed to happen if you write your own resume.  As I said in this article, many job-seekers are not accurately portrayed in their resumes because their personalities and achievements are lost in the bullet points. Resumes aren’t all about format, although it’s important to keep in mind that recruiters might spend as little as six seconds looking at your resume, so first impressions count. Your format gets their attention, then your content gets you the interview. If the elements the recruiter is looking for aren’t easily found, or not found at all, thinking outside the box can backfire on you.

If you wrote your own resume and you aren’t getting results, it may be time to consider consulting a professional writer, one who talks with you in depth to find out who you really are and highlights all of your talents. Finding a writer who specializes in your field can be extremely beneficial, because he or she will know what jargon should be included to demonstrate your proficiency without overcomplicating your resume. As a professional resume writer, I’ve also learned what works and what doesn’t, saving you, the job seeker, valuable time that you might waste committing Resume Blasphemy.