Why Shouldn’t I Write My Own Resume?

I know myself better than anyone else, so it seems logical…

It’s a commonly held default that everyone does their own resume; that this is something that you maintain yourself, like a little professional banzai tree. The resume is treated as an independent responsibility, and services like ours are often viewed as a luxury.

We’d like to take a moment to address this misconception.

We cannot emphasize enough: even if you’re not able to enlist our services, do not write your resume yourself. Get a friend, family member, roommate, or paid professional (cough cough) to sit down with you. Give them the computer and step away from the keyboard. Very far away.

Here’s Why:

  1. It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

As said by the police chief in every 70’s cop movie: “you’re too close to this thing”. When writing your own resume, it’s almost impossible to be objective and concise because that’s not the we relate to ourselves.

One of the most common obstacle we have to get past with our clients is their relationship with their own experiences. We constantly have people who want to talk about how hard they worked, their experiences with the company, how they did more than they had to, or how difficult a task may have been. People like to provide context. A lot of it.

All admirable stuff, but getting in the way nonetheless. Employers don’t want to read a story and they don’t want to get to know you. You have to allow yourself to be reduced to the bottom line: what you did, what you made, and how your employer benefitted. And this runs counter to our instinct in relating to ourselves; we consider the world in terms of narratives. We tell our lives as a story; it’s just something inherent and human. No one wants to be reduced to a bottom line.

  1. Your Ego Will Get in the Way

One of the biggest issues people have writing their resume is that is a document that essentially represents a major portion of their life, printed right there on the page. It’s your life, your success, your failure, your trajectory, and your hopes, all typed up neatly.

The act of writing a resume brings out a lot of anxiety, and if you’re not careful, it’ll end up all over the page.

We commonly see people trying to inflate themselves, often unnecessarily. Language like when “key member” or “drove success” or “indispensable” ends up peppering the resume liberally, till by the end its unclear if you’re talking a potential employer or yourself. It’s difficult, in some cases extremely, to just say what you did and let your accomplishments stand for themselves. It’s an issue of ego and basic self-esteem.

  1. You may Become Cliché

“Team Player”, “Flexible”, “Hard Working”, “Drove excellence” and of course dynamic “Dynamic”. Like we said before, the process of writing a resume is an anxiety inducing process, and the lone writer may find themselves clinging to the cliché like a security blanket.  Cliché’s are comforting and reassuring; they’re safe, they’re the road well-traveled, and best of all, they mean absolutely nothing. They’re impossible to prove or disprove.

This, of course, is precisely what makes them resume poison. Gravitation towards these sorts of terms is more or less inevitable when writing alone, and they do nothing more than homogenize and undermine what may otherwise be a strong job application.

  1. Or Worse, Modest

Or even more disastrously, you could possess a healthy relationship with modesty. playing down your achievements, emphasizing the accomplishments of the team rather than yourself, or not making a big deal of things (all basically what we’ve been trained to do from childhood) is a great recipe for an underwhelming resume.

Unfortunately, a resume is no place to be a decent human being; you need a second party who can get past all your instincts towards self-effacement. A second party has none of that instinct towards “making a big deal”.

  1. The Resume is a Deeply Impersonal Document

Writing your own resume is pretty similar to talking about yourself in the third person; it’s sort of unnatural, and requires an odd divorce from yourself. You have to talk about yourself historically, almost as if an anthropologist was following you around, studying your place in society. A well done resume is a document without judgment, inflection, or bias, as odd as that may sound. It’s a written photograph, you turned into an exhibit to be poked and prodded by hiring managers.

Doesn’t sound fun to write, does it?

Keep in mind, a resume is about being evaluated through someone else’s eyes, and needs to be written accordingly. In other words, by someone other than you. Writing your own resume feels unnatural because you’re trying to talk about yourself as someone else.

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