I see a lot of bad advice when it comes to resume writing and job search strategies. Often times, this is the result of long-held but outdated ideas that get amplified in the cyber-echo-chamber. However, sometimes this advice contradicts commonly agreed upon best practices as a way to differentiate a service, propagate fear and cash-in on people’s general confusion about the often maddening resume writing process. This is what I call Bad Advice™. Here are a few examples of Bad Advice™ that I’ve recently encountered:
Avoid Certain Words – Every time LinkedIn releases its annual list of words to avoid, the Internet blows up. And that is very likely why they do it. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn but I would brand this particular social marketing initiative as Bad Advice™. As with so much Bad Advice™, this seems to make sense. If, for example, everyone uses “achieved” on his or her resume, you want to set your self apart by NOT using that word. Right? The issue is that everyone uses “achieved” because it is often the right word. And when you start to try to avoid good words because they are common, you run the risk of using really stilted and silly language.
Avoid Corporate Jargon – This one sounds like excellent advice. But it is misguided at best and often full-on Bad Advice™. I am the first to admit that corporate jargon can sound ridiculous outside of the office. For example, if I used the term “creative” as a noun in everyday conversations, people would probably look totally perplexed. However, in discussions with marketing professionals, “creative” makes perfect sense as a noun. So, while I would agree that it is important to not overuse jargon, speaking in the language of your industry is incredibly important. Tactful use of jargon is a very effective way to show that you are an insider.
Avoid Implied First Person – There are people trying to sell the Bad Advice™ (literally) that you should write your resume the way you speak. The idea is that the resume should read like a conversation. Here’s the thing, the resume most definitely is not a conversation. It is a conversation starter. And most readers – assuming anyone has the patience and time to actually read your resume – are going to perceive this approach as very junior.
When trying to determine the best approach for your resume or job search strategy, it is important to remember that a lot of people are looking to differentiate themselves, products and approaches by contradicting best practices. Don’t buy Bad Advice™.