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Why Writing Your Own Résumé Is Worse Than Wearing A Cheap Suit

July 25, 2013
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Save the DIY urge for that back deck project

"We're excited to have you here to interview for this chance-of-a-lifetime CIO position.  And by the way, nice suit!" said Mr./Ms Person In Charge of Hiring. "Thanks, I made it myself!" said You.  No you did not.  And while I'm making educated guesses, I'll bet you didn't cut your own hair for your interview, did you?  And chances are very, very good that you didn't decide to whip up a little something special and cobble those shiny new shoes that you're sporting on your big day, either. Why not?  Because you're smart enough to know first impressions are critical, and besides, you're not a tailor, a hairdresser, or a shoemaker, right?  

Right.  You know that your suit, hair, and footwear are best left to the professionals.  But think about it.  Your very first impression is usually not delivered during a face-to-face meeting in your new suit.  Nope.  It's sent via email, most likely.  Your very first impression is your résumé.  Your résumé is often the deciding factor between whether you get called or culled.  This is no secret, but I'm astounded at the number of C-Level professionals who clearly understand the importance of investing in a good suit, shoes, and their appearance, and yet insist on writing their own résumé.  "I'm a great writer," they say.  "I know myself better than anyone," they state.   "Why should I invest the money when I can throw one together myself - Word has a template," they explain.

Word has a template.   Sure does!  And I've recommended it.  To my 21-year-old daughter who is hoping to score a receptionist job at her gym while she finishes college.  And if you have similar aspirations?  By all means, use the Word template.  But unless the Healthcare Informatics demographics have drastically changed since the last time I looked, if you are reading this it is very likely that you are an experienced healthcare IT professional, not a college kid angling for a receptionist job at Fayetteville Athletic Club.  As for you being a great writer and knowing yourself better than anyone, well . . . that may be true.  But a résumé is not a novel, an autobiography, or a blog post.  A résumé is a carefully calibrated work of art conveying exactly what makes you special enough, interesting enough, worthy enough to stand out from your competition.  Part scientist/part artist - professional résumé writers know how to objectively craft a compelling masterpiece and yet cut to the chase, using keywords and keyword phrases that recruiters use to find someone with exactly your background and expertise. Can you do that any more than you could sew your own suit?  If you're like 99.9% of your colleagues (including me), no, you cannot.  Trust me - I've seen proof.  Over and over and over again. 

Still not convinced?  According to the results of a recent study, your résumé's got a whopping six seconds to strut your stuff before the recruiter's decision is made. (If you get a chance, take a look at the study overview - they used eye tracking technology to learn exactly how that six seconds is spent - the results may surprise you). Can you guess what the #1 takeaway from the study turned out to be? The findings were clear - professionally written résumés rated higher in usability, showing a 60 percent improvement over those that were compiled by candidates. In other words, there is scientific proof that résumé writing is not a DIY kind of project.

So now that you have (hopefully) been persuaded that a professionally-written résumé is a worthwhile investment, here's what to look for when hiring a professional résumé writer:

  • Possesses a CPRW Certification - Certified Professional Résumé Writer
  • Specializes in Healthcare IT executives
  • Uses a consultive approach to truly understand your goals and aspirations
  • Includes collateral materials such as cover letters and thank you notes
  • Happily provides references

And one final note - you get what you pay for.   Use the same thinking that sent you to Brooks Brothers or Neimans for that new suit when it comes to your résumé investment.  Depending on your experience, a top-notch executive résumé should run you between $750 - $1500.  And while you're at it, ask them if they offer LinkedIn profile building services, because you probably need those, too.  (Usually around $150). Yes, it's an investment - but it's your first impression, and you're worth it!

Note:  There are many terrific professional résumé writing services out there - Google away!  But if you need a recommendation, the most effective, eloquent healthcare IT résumés that I have seen come from Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, BS/HR and her company, Professional Résumé Services.  I've negotiated discounted rates for the Healthcare IT Central community that can be found here - you are welcome to take advantage of them.