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Cases For and Against Professional Resumes

June 1, 1995
Related Topics: Featured Article
Should professionally written resumes be eyed with suspicion? After all, why would a candidate need to pay a service to present his or her credentials unless he or she had something to hide? Should HR view these resumes as "red flags?" There's a variety of opinion on the subject.

Gina Bridges-White, human resources manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital located in Baltimore, Maryland, views them somewhat favorably. "A lot of people feel very uncomfortable about writing resumes," she notes. "So I encourage people to [have them written] because sometimes I get resumes that are pretty bad. I think it's good if people get a little help in organizing their thoughts."

To Toni Grabler, vice president of human resources for Portland, Oregon-based Brim Inc., however, the professional resume may be more concealing than revealing. "They don't represent the individual," she insists. "They represent some formula. They tend to exaggerate the truth, and they raise questions in our minds. When we see them, we often ask the individual to submit another resume, or to validate some of those wonderful things written down that seem too good to be true."

Professional resumes lead Roxanne Hori, vice president of corporate recruiting and support at Chicago-based Northern Trust Bank, to question the competence of the applicant. "I tend to be suspicious of them," she says, "because I think an individual should be able to prepare his or her own resume. They need to be able to sell themselves effectively. And I think they also run a greater risk of having someone misrepresent them. But it also makes me question their writing skills. And in today's professional job market, I can't think of any job where you don't need to be able to write well."

Whichever side of the issue you're on, it's best to be straightforward about your intentions. This will save you much time and trouble. If you're against having applicants submit professionally written resumes, "Let the candidate know that you want a nonprofessional resume," Grabler advises, "and that you will review the resume and verify the information. When you tell them this in advance, they tend to either self-select themselves or at least correct the errors."

Personnel Journal, June 1995, Vol. 74, No. 6, p. 52.

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