Probably not, unless you work in HR or hire people, but let me clarify where I’m going with today’s blog. The job search is a stiff competition. But unlike most competitions, it’s one where you rarely get to see what you’re up against. Professional athletes understand that in order to succeed, you can’t just read a book and go out and perform if you expect to win. You need a coach to study what you’re doing right and wrong. The coach also knows what the competition is doing, and then develops a strategy on how to win.

How can you do that, when you have no idea what you’re up against? Or what you’re doing wrong? Or even what the rules are. In the job search, the rules are constantly changing (online job boards ring a bell?) If you’re doing it yourself, without a coach, it will take you a lot longer if your goal is to get a job. Take a lesson from Olympic Ice Skater Michelle Kwan who fired her coach one year and tried to do it herself. The results were not stellar.

I’ve been to numerous job fairs across the country, and have critiqued thousands of resumes and cover letters. So I see what the competition has to offer. Rarely do I find career documents without issues. During the critiques I’ll point out about 3 problems with the resume. These 3 things will make a slight improvement, but probably not enough to make you stand out against my own clients. That’s what they’re paying me for. To win the job.

Throughout my 8+ years as a professional resume writer I hear the same comments from ignorant people on a regular basis. Comments such as “oh, my resume looks fine. I just need to add a few things to it.” Or, one of my favorites, as told to my husband, “why would anyone pay to do something they can do themselves?” I’ll admit, these comments used to irk me, as if I was out to take their money for something as “simple” as “typing” a resume and cover letter. But now that the economy has truly taken a turn for the worst, I no longer feel that way.

That’s because it’s a lot easier to compete against the under-performers than those who do their homework, practice, and undergo professional coaching. And with fewer jobs available, and a greater number of applicants who can’t present themselves well, it’s a cinch to help my clients stand out and win interviews. Resume Writing is a combined art and science that is highly under-rated.

So for all the folks with self-written resumes and cover letters — thank you. You really do make my job a lot easier.

— Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes