5 Reasons Your Recruiter’s Resume Advice is Bad

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5 Reasons Recruiters Resume Advice IS Bad
I have lost count of the number of times I had a client relay an awful piece of advice they received from a recruiter. A bit of wisdom that seemed sound but in actuality was nothing but ill-informed hearsay. How does that happen you wonder? How can a recruiter, who has looked at hundreds if not thousands of resumes, offer you bad advice? Well, recruiters are human and they succumb to the same biases and errors as the rest of us. Here are five reasons your recruiters resume advice is bad.

1. Recruiters don’t always know how to write a resume

It’s hard to believe but it’s true! Recruiters spend the vast majority of their time trying to identify and source ideal candidates. This involves reading resumes, processing them, and identifying key traits. It does not, however, involve writing them. A recruiter can identify what a good resume looks like. This does not mean they can replicate the writing process themselves. Finding quality resumes has become a habit for many of them and like most habits, it becomes an unconscious process. When the question is posed “How do you write a great resume?” they are often clueless because they genuinely don’t know how. This has become very evident during my career as I have actually written resumes for numerous recruiters. To say the least, I’m glad they hired me!

2. Their personal biases get in the way

Often recruiters resume advice will be based on what they wholeheartedly believe is accurate. But it is often just their opinion without any real truth. For example, I had a client recently that included a list of interests and hobbies on their resume. Of course, this is not an industry standard so when I removed the information they were surprised and told me that a hiring manager instructed him to add it. When I asked them to follow up with the hiring manager to see what the reason was, they replied with, “I just find it interesting to read.” This is a problem because although including interests may help you procure an interview with this person it would do the exact opposite almost everywhere else. This is but one example of many incorrect opinion-based pieces of advice I have heard that directly contradict current industry standards.

3. They use Applicant Tracking Systems but have no idea how they work

With the emergence of Applicant Tracking Systems recruiting has changed substantially. Keeping with the trend more organizations will decide to employ them. This will expose more recruiters to their purpose and function. This does not mean they know anything about the interworking’s of the system, how they parse data or organize candidates. Almost every recruiter I have talked to has no idea how to write a resume that can beat an ATS system. The best response I have heard is to “use keywords.” But no one has mentioned formatting, placement, design, and other important elements to ensure success. This is often reflected in their advice which rarely accounts for the ATS problem.

4. They don’t know your industry

The same resume rules for one industry can be drastically different for another.  I often see clients who have received recruiters resume advice that is good in general but not a great fit for their industry. You have to appreciate that recruiters are often involved in a very niche or specialized recruiting role that often doesn’t span past their employer or the area they recruit for. For example, someone who is solely involved in the recruitment of IT professionals would probably have no idea how to write a resume for someone in sales. Because of this, that general bit of advice they gave you can often be detrimental to your career goals depending on your industry.

5. Its just bad advice

Sometimes there is no reason as to why the advice is bad or an explanation to justify why it was given. Occasionally recruiters just give poor advice when it comes to writing a resume for a multiplicity of reasons. It could be personal bias, ignorance, laziness or even a lack of understanding. Regardless of the reason the advice is still crappy and not likely to help you with your resume.


This does not mean you should never listen to a recruiter’s resume advice. In fact, some of the best pieces of wisdom I have received have been from recruiters. The problem is that you should always try and get multiple opinions from multiple sources. Always double check that the persons information is current, objective, and reflective of your industry, career journey, and overall career aspirations. For these exact reasons, Top Prospect Careers has done extensive research into perfecting resume writing. Our process ensures that our products are balanced and reflective of current industry trends.

Happy Resume Writing,


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