by Meridith Levinson

Bad Resumes: One Reason Recruiting Is So Broken

Nov 22, 20115 mins
CareersIT Jobs

Bad resumes prevent qualified IT professionals from standing out in a crowded job market. That's why a professional resume writer can be a job seeker's best friend. Here's how to pick the best resume writer for you.

If there’s one matter on which job seekers and people involved in hiring can agree, it’s that the recruiting process is broken. Hiring managers, internal and external recruiters, and HR personnel complain that they can’t find the talent they need, despite being besieged with an avalanche of resumes every time they post an open position. Meanwhile, job seekers lament that they can’t get in front of hiring managers: They can’t get past gate keepers, and no one returns their phone calls and emails. 

There are many reasons why today’s hiring process is so convoluted, but the biggest factor may be the sheer number of applicants for each job.  In October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted nearly 14 million people as unemployed, compared with 3.4 million job openings. If I’ve done my math correctly (and there’s *always* a chance that I haven’t), that creates a ratio of about 4 job seekers for every open job, and it doesn’t even count all the employed people looking for new work. 

As the number of job applicants has increased, so have the cuts many companies have made to recruiting and HR staffs. That means fewer people have more resumes and applications to screen. Hiring managers are also juggling more work as their departmental staffs have shrunk. All this adds up to overworked hiring professionals who are spread too thin to give recruiting the time it deserves—let alone return anxious job seekers’ phone calls.    

Of course, many other factors contribute to the inability for job seekers and hiring personnel to effectively find each other. The one I’d like to discuss today is job seekers’ resumes.    

In working on’s series of “resume makeovers,” I’ve observed firsthand the challenges IT professionals face communicating their work experience, accomplishments and unique value on their resumes.  I’ve interviewed dozens of top-notch IT leaders who can’t seem to get a job, not to mention a face-to-face job interview. For many of them, the barrier is their resumes. Their resumes just don’t communicate their fabulousness.  

Make no mistake: Writing a resume is no easy task, even for me, a professional writer. Writing about your career is hard when you’re so close to the subject matter. Determining which responsibilities, accomplishments and honors will be most important to a prospective employer is a guessing game. 

That’s why I recommend working with a good professional resume writer. I’ve seen the magic they can work on IT professionals’ resumes.  Their knowledge of what hiring personnel want to see on a resume combined with their capacities for word smithing, helping their clients select the most important experiences to include on their resumes, and for organizing that information and making it stand out are well worth the money. The resume writers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working on the “resume makeover” series help their clients communicate their awesomeness, create sleek, sophisticated resumes that attract the interest of hiring managers, and improve their chances of landing  new jobs.  

I recommend finding a resume writer who’s worked with IT professionals in your field. In other words, if you’re an application developer, find a resume writer who’s worked with other application developers.  Prior experience working on IT resumes is key. It means that the resume writer will have some understanding of technology, its role and purpose in an enterprise, and will be able to articulate what you do and the value you bring in crisp, compelling prose.  

All of the professional resume writers who have worked on’s resume makeovers have experience working with various levels and types of IT professionals. Some professional resume writers, such as Jennifer Hay, previously worked in IT.  

Certified professional resume writers will advise you to seek out a professional resume writer with the CPRW credential. I don’t know what education is required to earn that certification or if it really makes a difference, but the certified professional resume writers obviously think so.(I encourage certified professional resume writers to chime in with comments.) 

To determine whether a professional resume writer will be a good match for you, ask the following questions: 

1. What experience do you have writing resumes for CIOs? How many other CIOs/IT executives have you worked with?

2. What have you learned about the CIO role in working with other IT executives?

3. Can I see before and after samples of resumes you’ve written for other CIOs (or application developers or project managers or enterprise architects, etc.)? If you can get your hands on two or more before-and-after versions, you’ll get a sense for whether the resume writer truly tries to customize clients’ resumes or if they apply the same template to all of their clients. 

4. What is your process? 

5. How quickly can you turn around a new resume?

6. What is your success rate?

7. Do you have any clients I could talk to about their experience working with you?