advice opinion

How To Get the Best Resume Advice

Advice? Opinion? If you’re a job-hunting executive, you’re likely getting crazy-making input on your resume as you talk with a variety of people. 

It gets even wilder if you start reading about how to write a resume. Because of this, you need to understand the distinction between advice and opinions and how to seek and filter advice. 

Definition of Advice:

Resume Advice

Definition of Opinion:

Opinions on Resumes

How to Get & Filter Advice on Your Resume

Do those definitions make you stop and think?

You’ve probably received both — advice from authoritative sources and opinions from everyone else. Beware, opinions can put your job search at risk.

Use the following five tips to find good advisors.

1. Look for relevant experience. 

Find advisors who make decisions about interviewing and hiring people:

  • At your level.
  • In your industry and at your level.
  • For the specific job you want.

2. Look for successful advisors.

  • Read the person’s LinkedIn profile. Can they hold a job? Is their career on track or fast-tracked? Do they work for successful companies?
  • What do you think of their profile? If you’re not impressed, think twice about asking that person to advise you.
  • Read their recommendations. Do their colleagues describe a respected, successful professional?

3. Look for people employers pay for advice.

  • Find a career coach who has a roster of repeat corporate clients. 
  • Talk with retained search consultants who have long-term client relationships. 

4. Look for consistent advice.

  • One of my clients recently had me write two versions of his resume. Everyone, including me, liked one version better than the other. He went with the favorite.
  • However, if one of your advisors gives you brilliant reasons to buck the conventional wisdom, run his or her thoughts by some of your other “Board” members.

5. Listen to your inner voice.

  • You didn’t get to be a successful executive without having good instincts and smarts. If your inner voice keeps saying, “Yes, but…,” share your thoughts with others for confirmation or a broader perspective.
  • Trust yourself when you can say, “This is one of those situations where, based on my prior experience takings risks, I’m confident this is the smart thing to do.”

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Updated February 2019

© 2014 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 5

  1. Donna,

    This is fabulous advice! Job seekers are truly best off discussing strategy with a professional who offers hiring expertise, in addition to a track record of success. I’ll add that having job-hunting experience is also important. There’s something about having to sit across that interview table and defend what’s on your resume that provides a whole different outlook, particularly if you’re in need of interview coaching.

    For career PLANNING advice, this is even more important. I’m often asked – Should I earn an MBA? What will happen in 5 years if I take this job vs. that job? How can I get into healthcare / out of pharmaceuticals / into cloud technologies? (and so on). This is where you need to talk with someone who has been there, done that – and is doing it NOW, rather than a resume and job search provider you’ve known for 5 minutes.

    There is no crystal ball and there is no substitute for gaining the wisdom of someone in your field. We as career pros may be (and should be) knowledgeable, but we cannot be “the oracle” for every scenario.

  2. The sheer volume of terrible resume advice makes me sad. It’s tough enough to be out of work, but even respected business newspapers and magazines seem to come up with some new ‘resume trend’ every other month. I tend to avoid resume advice from journalists these days.

    Always consider the source!

    9/18: I just read a particularly horrific piece on resumes from a “respected” journalist. Ouch.

  3. Laura

    Thank you Laura. I love it when job seekers, resume clients or executive search candidates, have assembled a group of advisors who give them good advice. It helps them direct their energy strategically and make sound decisions.


  4. Hi Donna – good guidelines as always. But I agree with @Bob what I have observed is that even so called “influencers” are churning our misleading drivel. The person @NeilMorrison called out is high profile, successful and probably paid well to do that. Maybe she uses a ghost writer or a content marketer. It’s on the increase too.

    We know the advice is not sound because this our field – but the average reader would accept the content on face value based on her reputation.

    Headlines peppered with never do this/sure to fail if you do that, when writers drill down to granular detail tips. They clearly haven’t been in a candidate selection meeting – ever probably.

    Do we call it out like Neil did – or let it go?

  5. Hi Dorothy,

    I wrote this post to outline some guidelines for discerning between opinion and advice. I did this because I’ve seen many people take bad counsel and blow their chances for a job.

    However, even though I’ve stopped reading more than one LinkedIn Influencer because of the damage potential of what they write, I have to credit them for generating page views. ;-)


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