Dear JT & Dale: I applied online and am not getting any callbacks so I think I need someone to fix my CV for me. Can you recommend a good resume writer? – Karen

JT No. And I’ll probably have a lot of angry resume writers when I explain why. I don’t believe you should pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have someone else write your resume. First of all, many of these people write it to make you feel better about yourself, but not in a way that helps a recruiter assess your skills. They beat you up with a lot of fancy language and typefaces, but that’s not what recruiters are looking for. My company did a study that found that 73% of recruiters prefer a format that allows them to assess key skill sets in 6 to 13 seconds. This is in direct opposition to a lot of overly complicated resumes that I have seen by resume writers. Instead, you can write your own. You just need the right information and resources. And once you’ve learned how to write it, you can easily update it, which is more important because you should update the resume every six months.

VALLEY: Yes, JT is right: you can do it yourself. That said, if you don’t know where to start, JT has a free resource to help you that you can find on their website, Or, if you prefer something in book form, take a look at “How to Say It on Your Resume” by Brad Karsh and Courtney Pike. Karsh was responsible for recruiting at a large advertising agency and brings the advertiser’s eye of differentiation to the subject; that is, how to bring out your unique experiences and accomplishments.

JT: In short, here’s the message: save your money and, most importantly, take control of your future by learning how to create that important document. You can do it!

Dear JT & Dale: I heard somewhere on social media recently that if you’re not one of the top 20 people to apply online, your application will never be seen. True? – Ruben

JT: This is why I do not support applicant tracking systems (often called ATS). Job seekers think they were designed to make it easier to apply, but that’s not true. Applicant tracking systems are designed to make it easier for businesses to sort through the hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes they receive. Each system is built differently, but as a general rule, if you’re not one of the first people to apply, you’re very unlikely to be seen. For example, I was told that a common online application program has a special tool that identifies the first 25 people to apply. Those 25 people are seen and after that it doesn’t matter whether you are the 26th or the 126th person to apply. It is very unlikely that your application will ever be considered. I can only assume that other ATS systems are similar. This is why it is more important for you to focus on networking with people in a company, especially if you know that more than 25 people have already applied for the job. Your best bet at this point is to find a way to get your CV straight into the hands of hiring managers, as it is highly unlikely that they will see it if you apply online.

VALLEY: I just have a great example. My daughter was trying to help a friend find a job, someone who had applied online after an online application. She passed him something I had written that made him realize that instead of looking for jobs online, he should seek out the best people he had ever worked with and ask for advice, leads and contacts. Within a month, he had a new job with a significantly higher salary. You could say he overtook ATS by creating a PNS – a “personal area network system”.

Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a human resources novel, “The Weary Optimist”. Please visit them at, where you can email questions, or write to the attention of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2021 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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