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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


How to Ask for Resume Feedback


resumeSometimes when I finish a resume for a client, he or she seeks feedback from other people they respect. Often the information that comes back is valuable and helps me improve the resume, but sometimes it’s actually harmful.

The difference is in how the feedback request is worded.

The Right and Wrong Way to Ask for Feedback

If you ask friends and co-workers and former managers to critique your resume, that’s exactly what they’ll do. They’ll suggest changing this or that word, disagree with the structure, recommend a different font – and most of their comments will disagree with the comments you get from the next person, who likes the font you chose, but dislikes the word change you made at the request of the first person. In the end, you wind up confused, slightly irritable and with a resume that resembles the proverbial camel (a horse made by committee).

No, asking for a general critique is generally a bad idea. In my experience, the best way to solicit feedback is to ask people who have worked closely with you: ‘does this resume accurately represent what I have accomplished?’ Sometimes, you’ll find that co-workers will say ‘No! You didn’t even mention X project!” or “you didn’t say that you know C++” and you’ll realize that they are right.

So the key is to keep the request specific and focused on whether the resume accurately represents your strengths and accomplishments. This will give you the right information to make improvements.

Who Should You Ask?

Many resume services offer a free critique, but this is not the best way to find out how effective your resume is because obviously the resume service would like to sell you a new resume, so you can’t be sure of their motives.

I also recommend staying away from recruiters. Yes they look at resumes for a living, but this is the problem. They have their own objectives and those objectives are not the same as yours. Also, recruiters tend to be incredibly jaded when it comes to reading resumes (they see too many of them!) and may therefore tell you not to do something that would actually have been the one thing that would have impressed a hiring manager.

Friends and family are another no-no, even if some of them actually make hiring decisions. They have not worked with you and they do not know your industry, therefore any feedback they give has to be taken with a pile of salt.

For the best feedback, I recommend asking those who have worked with you – especially managers, former managers or colleagues who have hiring authority. They know you, they know your field and they know what managers are looking for when they read a resume.

So, my recommendations for seeking resume feedback are:

1) Only ask people who have worked with you.

2) Do not ask them to critique your resume – instead ask the specific question “does my resume accurately represent my skills and accomplishments?’

Good luck!

Read more about Resume Writing.

Blue Sky Resumes

About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

6 comments on “How to Ask for Resume Feedback”

  1. Kim Caponi says:

    Don’t leave out college career services. We aren’t “selling” anything and aren’t recruiters so our primary interest is in helping you the student or alumnus.

  2. Louise Fletcher says:

    Good point Kim! Thanks.

  3. Roland says:

    Excellent article and very useful. I have worked in recruitment for many years and was just one of a small few that would provide feedback on cv resumes and job applications.

  4. Jon Davidson says:

    Hi Kim,

    I liked your article except for the part about recruiters. While I believe that in the wrong hands you will likely get bad advice, in a good recruiter’s hands you get the best advice. Granted, there are more bottom-feeders than big fish in the industry, however there are still some ones left.
    In my view, the good recruiters who have seen thousands of resumes over the years aren’t jaded. In fact, they have the best perspective on what an employer wants to see that will stimulate them to set up an interview, which I am sure you would agree is the main function of a resume. Plus, the recruiter’s income depends on it. So while it may be true that the bottom-feeders aren’t the best sounding board when it comes to, well, anything, the few solid recruiters who still exist can be the best resource throughout your career transition.

  5. Dan Eustace says:

    Hi Kim,

    In this difficult market, people are stressed with the increasing number of job seekers for fewer apparent openings.
    As we know resumes are PR documents aimed to achieve interviews for desired positions. Candidates’ aspirations and company’s needs both should be factored into the resume. Thus, just having any person review your resume has a lower chance of providing helpful feedback, except for typos and things that do not appear clear (which can be helpful!).

    So, if one seeks a position in the same field and one that has a consistent trajectory, your targeted review hits the mark.

    If one is working with a recruiter who is a field specialist, they will know the key words and phrases to include and what hiring managers seek. So, please consider amending the idea with a special case inclusion.

    As we know, there are structural and content ways to adjust resumes to address concerns that different reviewers have. In the end it is the responsibility of the resume writer to learn and adjust to the varying situations. This seems to call for dependable mentors to make sense out of varying inputs.

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