How To Deal With Recruiters Who Want To Change Your Resume

I’m on my final round of a resume for a digital marketing client who is at a Director level. As we wrap up the project, she has asked me if I could create a one-page version of her resume because co-workers have told her that some recruiters are insisting on this. I was pretty surprised, and here’s why.

If you’re at a Director level, a one-page resume really does you a disservice. While it’s good to be old-fashioned in some ways — like sending a hard copy of your resume (as well as an emailed version) when applying for jobs — the one-page resume rule is passe. You are severely limiting your ability to sell yourself by the amount of space you have to work with. Meanwhile, the guy down the hall, doing virtually the same thing as you, is using a two-page resume that blows yours away simply because he’s got the room to do so! You’ve got to be competitive, and a one-pager doesn’t allow you to do that.

My client was inclined to agree with me but asked me how to handle it if the issue came up. Here’s what I told her to say to the insistent recruiter:

I’m sorry but I hope you will accept my resume as is. I believe that it accurately reflects all that I have accomplished in my career, which I could not possibly do with a one-page version. If you put this resume forth to your client, it will give me the competitive advantage and represent me in the best possible light.”

Remember, recruiters are in this business to make money. If a recruiter is good, believe me when I tell you, he is going to still send your resume to his client if it’s two pages if you refuse to abide by his one-page requirement. He wants to make a placement. Stick by your guns!

All of this said, I think you should listen to recruiters when they give you advice on your resume that is substantive. If she tells you that you need to focus more on your accomplishments and gives you concrete advice based on your interview, think about it and update your resume if you feel the advice is valid. I have heard that some recruiters will take the liberty to change your resumes on their own. I don’t think this is a particularly ethical thing to do unless the recruiter asks your permission. But, hey, let’s face it, not everyone gives a shit about ethics. So, one way to assure that your resume stays just as you wrote it is to deliver it in .pdf format. I’m a big fan of this because your formatting doesn’t get screwed up either when sending it electronically. I have Word ’08 and sometimes when I send it to clients who do not have this version, the bullets get all wacky and lines disappear. A .pdf document solves this issue for everyone and ensures your resume is delivered EXACTLY as you want it to be represented.

Carpe diem…

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