The $1,000 Resume

I live about 5 blocks from my pharmacy which is located in a small mall (the word is an exaggeration) which has half a dozen eateries. A couple have now placed chairs and tables outside.

As I was going up the stairs to get meds that are supposed to allow me to pay taxes for an indefinite period, I saw a very attractive young woman seated at a table with her father. He was not attractive but he was very angry.

He screamed, “I paid a thousand dollars for this! You chose her. What do you think, experts on resumes just fall out of the sky?” (That may not be an exact quote…”

He took a drink of coffee. I stopped, took a business card out of my wallet, and then walked to their table. I smiled at the daughter and said to the father, “Experts don’t fall out of the sky but, sometimes, their business cards do.” I dropped the card in front of him and proceeded on my way.

I walked into the pharmacy. Got my fix – I mean – my meds, and left. I walked back to their table and the father said, “I paid a thousand dollars for this. No one is calling my daughter. What’s the problem?”

I looked at the resume. I told him I could tell him what the problem was but he had to promise not to yell. I added, “Your Italian. I’m Jewish. I know that parental screaming is in our DNA but, no screaming.” She laughed. He promised. Then she stopped laughing.

I said, “First, a US telephone number has 10 digits, not nine. That’s why using hyphens is important. You can catch these errors. Second, it’s ‘,’ not ‘’ Third, New Jersey is spelled with a capital ‘J.’ Fourth, a lot of major companies use what are called ‘Applicant Tracking Systems.’ They are computers that scan resumes into their data base. A human only sees the resume if it has the necessary keywords. Your daughter’s resume has the necessary keywords but her contact information, for what it’s worth, and the list of her skills, are all in a sidebar, in white font on a black background. Some computers can’t read that. And finally, these infographics – which the Applicant Tracking Systems won’t pick up – look nice but send the clear message that she has not accomplished enough in her career to even fill a single page.” I also pointed out some additional typos and told him that I tell my clients not to include their address, only their city and state of residence. “Do you really want strangers knowing where your daughter lives?” (That actually lowered the shade of red on his face.)

I then continued, “Remember, you promised not to scream. The reason your daughter is not getting any calls is that they either look at the resume and conclude she is sloppy and not detail-oriented or, if they use the Applicant Tracking System, they don’t know about it. That’s why she’s not getting any calls. Remember,” I reminded him, “you promised not to yell.”

He kept his promise, at least to me. He got his money refunded. And I got a new career counseling client.

Lesson for business owners: Always carry a couple of business cards in your wallet. Lesson for job seekers: Don’t pay $1,000 for a resume. There is no resume that is worth a thousand dollars. And, proofread the resume before you send it out. The more eyes, the better. And that is even true for a resume I prepare. I’m also not perfekt.


Bruce Hurwitz, the Amazon international best selling author of The 21st Century Job Search and Immigrating to Israel, is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that! A five-star rated speech writer on Fiverr, he is the host and producer of the live-interview podcast, Bruce Hurwitz Presents: MEET THE EXPERTS.  He is an honors graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from where he received is doctorate in International Relations majoring in International Law.