Posted by: peterhact | December 14, 2012

Recruiters tell me my resume is wrong…

Over the course of my career, my resume has gone through many changes. There was the era of bullet point, clipped style resumes, when I was first looking for a job, in the late ’80s. I remember that, back then, my resume was only a page long. Recruiters told me to flesh it out, as it was too small. I did.

Fast forward to the mid ’90s. Again, my resume had to be changed, it was just too small. I added my expertise, my hobbies, personal goals and a short description of where I had worked and what I had done. My original one page resume was now a five page resume. Better, I was told by the recruiters.

Around 2010, I was informed that my resume needed to be a story that told a prospective employer about who I was and what I could do. The resume shouldn’t mention my earlier roles, I should cut out the older jobs. So I changed my format again, making it a larger document with bullet points, descriptions and a short essay for each employer, with achievements etc. Better, the recruiters told me.

This year, I had to drag out and update my resume. I had just completed the complete overhaul when a trusted friend told me to dump my achievements, skills and plans and expand on each of my roles. The recruiters were strangely silent. I like to think that they were busy reading it.

Recently, a recruiter told me to shorten down my resume.  People don’t want an essay, they prefer bullet point, clipped styles, I was told. This last piece of advice I ignored. I mean, there is only so many things I can do to make myself sound good, and the resume is a track of where I worked and what I did. The interview is the actual mechanism to gain a job.

I asked whether I should mention the retrenchments I have had during my career. No, I was told. We (the recruiters) will explain where you have been and why you had to go.

My first week of unemployment saw every single application knocked back. I mean it, every single one never made it to an interview. I was applying for every single job I could do, even to the point where I was applying for grasscutting jobs, labouring, night fill in supermarkets. All had the same response, “although you have exceptional skills, you just aren’t what we are looking for.” Eventually, I asked one of the agencies what was my failing in the application. The response was that I have had several short term roles. Longevity was not apparent. This is not a positive for a potential employer.

What if I change my resume to include the retrenchments? Well, I could, but it seems that it has no bearing on today’s market. I just have to keep looking, selling myself to a potential employer and eventually, someone will look past my short term roles, see that I can be of benefit to their organisation and I can go back to work, receiving the odd call about a “role that I would be perfect for”. Seems to be that the recruiters remember me when I have a job, but they don’t remember me when I don’t.

Is my resume wrong? have I missed the mark?

I think it is fine. Only time will tell.




  1. What a nightmare. Resumes surely need to be relatively brief? Particularly when you then have selection criteria to address and then interview… Longevity is a thing of the past these days.

    • It seems that resumes that are a brief description also fall foul of recruiters – they ask for more info. Sometimes you just can’t win…

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