Much like Yahtzee's post, I had TheLadders resume review too.

My resume is [url=]here[/url].

I had the same "canned" type answer from the Ladders. They provided their input as well, but overall I think they are after the $695. I have to admit I do like the advice portion though. I have not had the pleasure of writing a resume before or looking for a job in the real world. After I left the Army I moved right into real estate, then landed a proj. mang. job as a term position with a friends company. The only reason I am looking now is because the real estate market tanked and I am having trouble feeding my family :( I'm probably in real need of help with this resume, but I am at the point where money is too tight to buy help. So...any ideas? Anyone hiring in Denver/Colorado Springs??

Dear Jamie,

Thank you for your resume submission! My name is XXXXXXXand I will be providing your resume critique.

In this email I will outline my thoughts, provide a price quote to you, explain the process, and give you instructions at the end of my review to get started. If you decide to proceed, you will be working directly with one of our top writers versed in your industry and level.

Our methodology is simple: We apply extensive resume writing experience and knowledge of the $100k+ job market to determine how well your resume represents your value and distinguishes you from the competition.

Please note that I am NOT critiquing your background, experience, or potential for success. I am commenting on how you are MARKETING those assets to potential employers and how you are competing against others with similar goals. Your resume needs to be assertive in showing prospective employers how you would be of value to them, because no matter how good you are at your job, the resume is what really lands the interview.

Before I begin the critique, I do need to warn you about my style, because my comments can seem blunt--but the reality is the job market is very competitive now, so I find it beneficial to tell it as it is rather than "yes" people to death. (I hate when it's done to me!)

Here are the major issues I see on your resume:


Your summary is missing the “WOW” factor. You're relying on too many "business clichés" - things like, "Excellent written and verbal communication skills". These "crutch" phrases don't really tell the reader anything about you and what you've done! You need a much more results-focused introduction, to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading!

The five main aspects within a distinguished summary indicates: your highest career achievements, experience level, your value, your industry and your immediate career goal, and convey, "Look how what I have to offer will be an asset to you".

I also recommend including a "Core Competencies" subsection just below the summary -- specific areas of expertise and knowledge that can be supported by solid accomplishments. Including a list of "Core Competencies" is a great executive strategy, and provides both a quick and comprehensive look at your strengths from the beginning. Additionally, a core competencies or "keyword" section also increases the odds of an electronic screening agent making a match between your resume and an open job requisition.


Today's job descriptions briefly sum up your position in paragraph format, then uses bullets for your most marketable attributes - results of the duties listed in the paragraph. This strategy separates the duties from the results and really highlights your key accomplishments, making them easy to find when the resume is quickly scanned. As you only have SECONDS to grab their attention. You have everything bulleted - resulting in NOTHING standing out to the eye of the reader.

On another note…the "references" tag line just isn’t done anymore - ESPECIALLY for upper level executive resumes! It's like saying "the end" at the end of a movie.


The language could be MUCH stronger. You vacillate between active voice and passive voice in the document (“Responsible for”, etc.). In the active voice, the subject acts. In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon. The active voice is more natural, direct, vigorous and emphatic - traits you want your resume to have in tone.


The vast majority of resumes are handled now by resume databases whether online or Human Resource Information Systems within companies. The databases have "preferences" for certain design elements. One of them is a preference for sans serif font styles. Change the font to something that is sans serif and avoid the default Times New Roman or other serif fonts.


Jamie, your resume is your self marketing tool. It gets you in the door. It must be strong on ALL levels in order to achieve the best results. All-in-all, I don't think you're putting your "best foot forward" if you plan to use this resume in its current condition. You’re underselling yourself. You are in need of a self-marketing brochure - one that shows your high caliber. This document isn't doing that for you.

Please understand, all of this is not to say that you are not a good candidate, merely that the way your resume presents your career is not yet very effective or exciting to the reader (who typically has read 100+ resumes just before getting to yours).

You need to remember the purpose of a resume -- to take an AGGRESSIVE approach in selling you to a potential employer. Why does that employer want to interview YOU? You need to be MUCH more active in pulling out your forte -- things that will show potential employers what they get for their investment (your compensation). What can you bring to the table that your competition cannot? What sets you apart? Right now you are not giving the reader the best information to excite him/her enough to contact you for an interview. Remember, unless you can convince them of your VALUE, they will not contact you.

Most people are like you -- they struggle to put themselves down on paper effectively -- but that's where we come in, because we are experts at knowing the best way to present you. In fact, even Marc Cenedella, CEO of TheLadders came to OUR writing team when he needed a resume!

TomW's picture
Training Badge

[quote="jumpmaster"]The vast majority of resumes are handled now by resume databases whether online or Human Resource Information Systems within companies. The databases have "preferences" for certain design elements. One of them is a preference for sans serif font styles. Change the font to something that is sans serif and avoid the default Times New Roman or other serif fonts. [/quote]

Maybe my experience is too limited (even though I work for a global firm, it's only 450 people), but to this day I still don't know a single person who uses a resume database software for scanning incoming resumes for certain terms.

BJ_Marshall's picture
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Have you listened to the podcast? It's amazing.

It also addresses the concern about scanning software that looks for keywords by virtue of phrasing your resume as bulleted accomplishments. For example, let's say a position I'm looking for requires knowledge of MS Project. You may have a bulleted accomplishment that hits on this, such as:

* Created a monitored the first-ever program schedule using MS Project, achieving a 95% success rate in producing deliverables on-time and on-budget.

Not only do you show "knowledge," but you've also set that knowledge in a concrete context that will help you deliver a great answer to an interview question.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="TomW"]Maybe my experience is too limited (even though I work for a global firm, it's only 450 people), but to this day I still don't know a single person who uses a resume database software for scanning incoming resumes for certain terms.[/quote]

I know that British Telecom certainly used to in the 1990s. They probably still do but I couldn't say definately they do. I've heard that Barclays bank, Lloyds TSB, the UK Civil Service and a few other companies do but don't know for certain.

From what I gather they're used basically to throw out the obvious 'losers' and prioritise likely good matches before the humans get involved.

In terms of design elements, the font used might have an impact on the Optical Character Recognition of CVs/Resumes scanned from paper. Sans Serif would be easier for the process to 'read' so increase the likelyhood that the word that gets stored is the word you meant rather than a similar word with a different meaning. That works with people as well, a lot of people word-pattern read so rather than seeing every letter they just see the shape of the word and interpret that. Using an unusual font means they have to switch to letter-by-letter which increases the impact but also the effort, fine for headlines but not good for large bodies of text.


pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

My team helped Cisco's HR install theirs in the mid-90's. I'll bet they still use some form of automation.

Ever applied for a job via a company's web site and been redirected to or They are quite common at large companies.

jumpmaster's picture

Well I'm not sure what to think about the automated response systems. A friend of mine works here in the Springs at SAIC and he stated that they have software that "weeds" out individuals.

I'm not getting many call backs either way so I guess it cannot hurt to change the format and include new words. Here is an [url=]updated version [/url]of the resume. I put a lot on this one. I also have a one page version, but all-in-all they both seem "too packed" with info.

I suppose you all would have some feedback for the auto-submit type applications (e.g. Monster, careerbuilder)? I try to go directly to the company site AND look for a contact person - but thats easier said than done. I have yet to receive anything from Monster or Careerbuilder after multiple submissions.

CalKen's picture

When I first started working for McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing) they used a resume scanner to grade resumes. The funny thing is that once I was told (their website would tell you to make it a text file so that it can be fed into a resume scanner) all I had to do is place tons of keywords into my resume and I got a really high score (an old recommended resume from my college days had a keywords section where you fill it with resume scanner keywords).

I can see how companies would stop using resume scanners as it would encourage people to just load their resume with key words to get past the electronic scanner. Personally I think they are a great waste of time in general.

HMac's picture

If your read John Lucht's book "Rites of Passage" (heartily endorsed by M/M, which is why I bought it :!: ), he talks about altering your resume when you know it's going to be scanned into a database. His specific example was when you're sending a resume to recruiters and you know they're going to put it into a database.

Lucht has a pretty funny example of "front-loading" a resume with key words that will increase the likelihood of it surfacing...


bug_girl's picture

Science/Pharma companies absolutely use keyword scanning.
However, something tells me "Cell culture" and "Mass Spectroscopy" are not on your resume anyway....


thaGUma's picture

I am amazed about this 'front loading' idea. If it is a computer check then it will check from start to finish. Unless someone is majorly Dilbert and stops a compurt 1/3 way through.
Do not front load - it irritates real people.

MGoBlue93's picture

wow jumpmaster... The first few paragraphs are exactly the same resume critique I got from The Ladders too (they use a company called Get Interviews to actually write the resumes)! What a coincidence! It differed where they talked about some of your relevant sections, they said my resume was too detailed. hmmmm... aren't I writing a resume that reflects my senior level of experience?

You'll then receive a worksheet to provide the resume writers with material. This worksheet is so bush-league, words can not do justice to how amateur and unprofessional this process is:

1. The resume critique will rip you to shreds. Which is okay as I thought I was hiring professional help to take a critical look at my resume. Unfortunately, what they consider critical thinking is actually Don Rickles level insults. No worries though, they'll pepper the critique and future correspondence with smileys in an attempt to hurt anyone's feelings. Yep, you read that correctly, the Vice President of the organization will liberally use :) and ;) in your correspondence.

2. The worksheet they send will say "Please email your old resume with your completed worksheet." Huh, don't you already have it? How did you do the critique then?

3. The worksheet will also say, "so I have everything from you in one email". Huh? You cannot attach multiple documents from the Ladders website. Clients cannot send everything in one email! I suppose you could try to zip it if their service didn't block such attachments. There's no web-based or form-based exchanges either. All correspondence will be through their proprietary interface.

4. The worksheet might as well have been developed in crayon. There is such a mix of font sizes, styles, highlighting, tabs, and paragraph marks that it makes me car sick just trying to work with it. I spent more time trying to reformat their worksheet, to make the data look presentable, than I did filling the thing out -- it's that bad folks. One would think that for $600+ that this organization could put together a form with data entry fields and a consistent flow of information.

5. After you send the worksheet in, they will send you follow-up questions. They definitely make it seem like the questions are custom tailored to your worksheet responses. They're not... the follow up questions are the same questions they send to all their clients. Check the properties of the Word document and you'll see the name of the last person for which they did resume work.

When you receive your resume, you'll find that you wrote it. Yep... about 95% of the text on your $600+ resume is taken directly from: your old resume (which mind you was ripped to shreds during the resume critique), your worksheet, and your responses to the phony "follow-up" questions.

The remaining 5% of their work is flowerly language and buzzwords that will make your head hurt reading it. I tried to work with them three times after the first draft came through to clean up the filler and they wouldn't do it.

You won't get a follow up from this company either. After 30 days, what you have on hand is your final product. When that calendar date expires, you will no longer hear from Get Interviews until you send them more money, not even for a courtesy call to make sure what they did for you is either working or satisfactory. I actually got less views of my resume after Get Interviews messed with it than I did when before I hired them.

Overall, my new resume looks pretty much like my old resume except Get Interviews moved my core competencies to the bottom and put a border around the entire document. Everything else was the same.

HMac's picture

This is a topic that really energizes the boards. Look at how many Views this thread has gotten!

I think if you're considering ANY type of resume help, and you're an M-T member, your first step would be to spend $50 to have wendii give it the M-T treatment. While that doesn't help anybody recover money they're spent elsewhere, at least it's $100 you might end up feeling better about having spent....


AManagerTool's picture

FYI-1, I had great results with a resume that The Ladders resume service did for me. It was a really detailed process that took about two weeks to complete. Revisions went back and forth and I felt like I had someone assigned to me personally. They really did sweat the details. They don't use the MT style but are more in line with Lucht's style of resume preparation. By success, I mean that I get regular hits on my resume from recruiters and when I send it out. I wouldn't know any other measure worth anything.

FYI-2, I didn't pay for it. They did it for me for free in order to prove their customer service model is effective after I participated in this debate. It is indeed effective. They are fantastic. That said, they charge premium rates and for that you should expect premium service. You should know that you do indeed get premium service. Premium service = excellent writing, excellent formatting, unlimited rewrites until you are satisfied, attention to detail and no-bull@#$. They tell you what they think even if it hurts your feelings...LOL. I know that my lower lip quivered a few times.

I am comparing them to the services that both my wife and I got before through outplacement vouchers during layoffs. The Ladders service was MUCH better than standard run of the mill resume writers services. However, If it was a choice between parting with $750 and doing it myself....I'd do it myself. I'm just not in the income bracket where that kind of money doesn't make a difference.

We should stop beating on their service....It's excellent....for a resume service. If you want to debate, frame the discussion as whether you think a resume service is worth the money. That would actually be a productive conversation.

MGoBlue93's picture

hmmm... not sure if you got special treatment or not during their evaluation.

Listen, this isn't a trashing of their service. Rather a documentation of the experience so that others who are wondering about what The Ladders/Get Interviews provides can get at least another side of the story.

At any rate, paying customers don't get unlimited rewrites. You get 30 days of follow-up after the first draft is published. Considering that you have to use their proprietary message system and they don't give out a phone number, that 30 days goes by quickly as days are burned waiting on non-verbal communication turnarounds. What is up with a company advertising premium service and is afraid of giving their telephone number?

Furthermore, whether or not one gets personalized service is HIGHLY debatable. All the communication is signed from a "VP" of the org. Considering all the correspondence is pre-canned, copy-and-paste, form letters, there's zero indication that anyone is giving one's resume personalized service. Considering they could script this service and run it automatically, I question whether or not the VP on the communication is even a real person.

[quote]Premium service = excellent writing, excellent formatting, unlimited rewrites until you are satisfied, attention to detail and no-bull@#$[/quote].

Couldn't disagree more. My resume came back with misplaced punctuation and mistakes as simple as subject-verb agreement. The flowery language they use is overwhelming... they turn simple terms like "desktop application" into "mission critical software system".

Regarding the flowery language, I understand that the resume is to sell one's self. But if I go into an interview I expect I'll have to explain myself. I know when I interview people, I have a group of questions I ask everyone; the rest of the interview is made up of questions targeted against one's resume. I want people to quantify their experiences and I want to get insight into how they think. In-turn, I don't want any "bull@#$" on my resume, that way I don't have to waste time trying to cover my backside instead of moving the conversation forward.

It's good to hear you had such a positive experience with them. I don't have any empirical evidence but I think recent experiences with them are not as good.