Service of Editing
February 14th, 2013
One of my editors was a part-time consultant at the first magazine I worked for and she taught me how to approach writers I’d edit in future: I did the opposite of everything she did. She attacked and demeaned writers ferociously. I’d return to my desk so jangled and distracted by her anger that I was barely able to jot down my name.
I thought of her when one of the students I mentor showed me the come-on she got from an online resume service that will revise a resume for $700. She’s a brilliant young woman who in this economy has organizations and companies asking her to intern for them, so she can pick and choose.
Fear is what this boilerplate selling service preys on. The very long cover letter and even longer critique, with a few tweaks to make the recipient feel that it’s written for them, would fit many people in a range of industries.
The second paragraph of the cover letter begins, “Let’s be honest.” What a turnoff and warning about the quality and sincerity of the service. Choosing to initial cap Candidate in the letter and Hiring Manager in the critique……whose pandering style book are they following?
I’ve read hundreds of resumes between hiring, directing a mentoring initiative and participating in scholarship selection committees and I’ve helped revise countless others. This woman’s resume is easy to scan or scrutinize. I disagree with the critique: “Your resume is difficult to read and is a victim of bad design.” The subsequent implication that her resume was tedious and/or confusing smacks of additional scare tactics. Hers is succinct, clear, and coherent.
I wonder if they’d pay me $700 to edit their cover letter. “In fact your resume has one of the hardest sales challenge [sic] of all: to convince employers, who are complete strangers, that you are someone who could be a difference maker in their organization.”
Would you pay five cents for a critique that includes: “Let’s face it ___[name of potential sucker/client], you’re an experienced Marketing, not a resume writer.”
And, let’s face it, if someone had read the resume they critiqued, they would know that this young woman is a computer software engineer whose experience is light in marketing though moving briskly in that direction given the graduate degree she’s pursuing and internships she’s completed. Guess the online resume revising place has no boilerplate for transitions and outstanding combinations of skills.
I didn’t have to read farther than the next sentence to confirm that the person who was going to revise it also needed to tighten up her writing style. She wrote: “Still, a professional at your experience level,” [did she mean "a person with your experience"]– is actually a student launching her marketing career.
Back to “Let’s be honest,” my mentee said that she couldn’t take credit for business results and outcomes that she was urged and advised to provide but which she didn’t cause.
I agree with the company rep that a resume is a sales tool but I also believe in truth in advertising and treating the person I’m editing with respect, not with inappropriate chumminess on the cusp of rudeness.
Both editors–mine and this one–were trying to foment insecurities, one to grab a power advantage and to feel superior, the other to get a patsy’s money. Do you know of similar tactics? How do you protect yourself from falling for such swindlers?