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Why It’s Never A Good Idea To Hire A Ghostwriter For Your Resume

If you need a good example of why you should not consider using a ghost-writer to craft your professional resume, you don’t need to look further than the current President of the United States of America.

In the eighties ‘The Art of the Deal’ helped turn Donald J Trump into a household name.  A part biography, part business advice book, the bestseller was credited to Donald Trump and his ghost-writer – Tom Schwartz. Schwartz was a respectable journalist and author before he wrote the book for Trump. Years later when Trump became the 45thPresident of the United States of America, Schwartz admitted that writing the book was one of the biggest regrets of his life because the book had created a myth.

As a career coach, I have encountered many clients who say they have paid for a professional resume but have not been able to secure the job they wanted. Part of the reason for this is that a professional resume writer or ‘ghost-writer’ seldom have the time to get to know their clients. Resume writing is a growing industry today. The people who work in this field range from professional writers to first-year graduates looking for a gig online. But it is volume-driven, and the writers simply do not have the time to consider the human aspects of its subject.

 

 Here are some reasons why ghost-writers won’t get you a job: 

1. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

It’s hard to tell them apart. They are ghosts, after all. If you are fortunate to find a good ghost-writer, he or she will work closely with you to craft a resume so compelling that any employer in the world will want to hire you.

Chances are you will end up with a ghost-writing service that churns out hundreds of resumes a week and your USPs will be recycled from a data pool of hundreds of ‘dead’ resumes. There goes that dream job. 

 

2. Your resume is an imposter

A ghostwriter is a stranger. They don’t know who you are, how you think or what drives your passion. Worst case scenario: The ghost is a great writer with the power of words to craft a lyrical resume so compelling that you are shortlisted.

But recruitment managers were not born yesterday. You can fool them in writing, but you won’t fool them in person. They can spot a fake the minute you open your mouth. They are going to be the ones to ‘ghost’ you, once they realise your resume was an imposter.

Best case scenario: There isn’t any. 

 

3. Does your ghost know your industry?

Perhaps the question should be: ‘Do they even care?’ It’s just another gig. The faster the turnaround time, the more money they can make. They are not going to have the time to sit down with you to find out about the company or the industry. We all know that a resume that does not speak directly to the organisation is not going to be shortlisted. 

 

Secrets to building a killer resume (without the ghost’s help)

Writing a good resume is not easy. A resume requires thought and planning. You want the resume to create the right impressions so you can be shortlisted.

I tell my clients that the resume is the first but a crucial step to getting them employed. Getting a job is more than just writing the perfect resume. There is an entire process involved – whether it’s your first job or that dream career move you’ve always wanted.

 

Here are seven resume writing tips I use with my clients:

1. Get the order right

A professional resume must have a standard order of proceedings. Do not deviate from this order. Adjustments are acceptable but only if it is relevant to the job you are applying.

Deloitte Touche Tomatsu – one of the world’s ‘Big Four’ – has a great standard resume templatethat we have adapted at Careerists. Here is what a standard resume should look like: 

  • Name and contact details (If you have a quirky email address, consider starting a new account).
  • The title of the position as it appears in the advertisement in bold and centred. 
  • A summary or value proposition.
  • Your experience bulleted. Leave off experience that is 15 years or older unless it is relevant to the position. 
  • Your education and qualification. Leave off the year you graduated. List your area of specialisation instead. Also, consider including any relevant certifications and professional memberships.
  • References are a standard requirement in resumes today so you will have to list their name, job title, organisation and contact details. Always ask permission first before you put someone’s name on your reference list.  

 

2. Impress with your value proposition

The opening statement or value proposition of your resume is crucial. You have about 6 minutes to engage the recruitment manager’s attention. Start with a very brief summary of who you are and why you are the right candidate for the position (i.e. what you can do for the organisation). Ideally, this is a single paragraph summary of approximately 15-20 words. Not easy. 

It must be a superior elevator pitch. Imagine the person reading the resume as a buyer and you the seller. If you cannot convince him or her at the very start, they are not going to want to buy your product. The product in this example is YOU.

 

3. Customise and tweak all the time

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to resume writing. Every resume must be customised to the position, the organisation, and its industry. A little effort on your part can make a big difference in creating the right impression in a competitive job market.

One of the common mistakes new job seekers make is to pay a professional to write their resume and then recycle this template for the next hundred jobs they apply. Mass produced resumes very seldom deliver the results you want so stay away from this shortcut.

 

4. Match accomplishments, not list experiences

A problem some of my clients encountered: They have twenty years’ experience in their jobs. They are applying to be divisional head in a different industry. Do they list all their 20 years’ experience? The simple answer is ‘NO’. List only the achievements that the employer wants.

An effective way around this is to read the job scope and responsibilities carefully and pick out all the accomplishments you have that can match what the organisation is looking for.

According to John Lees – A UK-based career strategist and author of ‘Knockout CV’, 95% of what you say should be framed as accomplishments. I always tell my clients to use the right action verbs and to support everything they write with facts and figures. General statements like ’20 years’ experience in sales’ mean very little to a prospective employer but a statement that reads: ‘consistently exceeding sales target by 30% for the last five years’ say a lot. Look for specific examples that will impress the employer and creatively thread these into your resume to stand out from the rest.

 

5. Make it appealing to read

A professional resume must be well-written with grammatically correct English, no spelling or typo mistakes and excellent layout and formatting. Stay away from clichés and don’t use too many self-referential words. By self-referential words, I am referring to sentences with too many ‘I’ and ‘me’ in them. They scream narcissism and will scare away any prospective employer.

One of the most common questions my clients ask all the time: ‘Should I write a one-page resume? Or can I write more than a page?’

The answer depends on the individual and the job he or she is applying. If you have twenty years’ solid experience and a list of accomplishments that fits the position, it won’t be easy to limit your resume to a single page.

These days it is perfectly acceptable to send a resume that is 2 to 3 pages long. The HR Manager is still going to start by reading your summary. If their interest is piqued, they will fact check by reading the other sections. 

 

6. Align your digital profile

Companies today will check your digital footprint as part of their recruitment process. Make sure that whatever you list in your resume is also reflected in your social media profile.

Don’t be tempted to just cut and paste your resume into your LinkedIn profile. It will read false. The most likely scenario is that the HR Manager has already read the same profile on your resume before he or she looked up your LinkedIn account. Not a good look if the last impression they have is that you are a tardy individual who cannot be bothered spending a few minutes describing yourself on LinkedIn. 

 

7. When to get help

If writing is not your forte or if you are targeting that big career move, you may want to consider asking help from a career coach.

Career coaches are not resume-generators. We are professional mentors who can help you find a job. In general, career coaching is a solution-oriented approach that involves working with an individual to identify the concrete steps they will need to take to achieve their career objectives. We look at behavioural, emotional, and psychological issues that could be impeding your career’s ambition. Resumes are just one of the many things we work with our mentees.

Interested to know more about our career coaching sessions? Contact us at Careerists Academy today.

Post Author: Thai Ngo

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