If your headhunter hates your resume, you may want to hear them out before you get defensive.

Many job seekers at one time or another find themselves engaging with a headhunter. Regardless if you have been solicited, or you have sought them out, a headhunter will always ask you for your resume. So what do you do if your headhunter tells you that you need resume help? As a professional resume writer, career coach, and oft-times recruiter, I can tell you that this happens for one of three reasons.

Reason #1: You have a bad resume

Or, to put it more delicately, your resume format is not optimizing your skillset effectively and therefore will not be as productive a marketing tool as it could be. If your resume is out of date, unattractively formatted, contains an objective statement or is just hard to read, then your headhunter may rightly ask you to create a more professional looking resume. If this is the case, you will be well served to listen. If writing resumes is not your thing, there are wonderful professional services who can help with resume writing.

Reason #2: Your resume does not emphasize the skills their client needs

Your headhunter presumably is very familiar with the hiring company and their needs. A resume is only a two page document highlighting the skills you have assumed will be most relevant. However, sometimes there is an important facet to the job that is not apparent on your resume, that the headhunter may be aware of. If you are confident that you actually do have the skill and can ethically claim it on your resume, you are well served to take your headhunter's resume help. They usually get paid only if you are hired, so they are highly motivated to get you the job. That being said, you will be the one to interview and work there so avoid overstating any claims.

Reason #3: Formatting preference

Resume formats are both an art and a science. There are parsing techniques, keywords and current trends that are proven to be effective, but there are also personal preferences. It is very frustrating to pay money to get help with resume writing, only to show it to a recruiter and be told that it should look different. This has happened to a few of my clients. While I personally always prefer my version and can back it up with statistics, what I usually tell my client is that if they really want to work with that headhunter, and the headhunter feels strongly about a different template or resume format, the client should consider reformatting to the headhunter's preference (and using the other one for positions outside the headhunter's scope).

In conclusion, invest your time and resources in the best possible version of your resume and if someone objects to it, listen to why, weigh out the rationale and only change if it makes sense to you. Your resume is your marketing tool and you should have the final say on its appearance.

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