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The Ethics of Resume Writing

Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW
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Published on April 21, 2015

The NY Times recently asked in its Ethicists column whether one should hire a person to craft his or her resume and cover letter. I read it ­– and the resulting comments – with great interest. Have I made a career out of something unethical, I wondered?

Not just to defend myself but I do believe the work of a highly certified resume writer is perfectly ethical, assuming the following points:

1) The applicant is honest if asked who wrote the documents. Although I’ve personally never heard of this happening, I do recommend to clients that they answer honestly if asked, “Who wrote these documents?” An appropriate response might be, “I partnered with a resume writer on crafting the documents to ensure my information was not just accurately represented but clear and concise as well.” If one is looking at a team management or project management role, you could point out that this is similar to collaborating with others on ensuring an optimal outcome. 

2) The applicant is responsible for providing requested writing samples or anything else relevant for the role itself. Though this is not common either, there are roles where writing samples, portfolios, or other materials are requested and relevant for the job itself. While it’s one thing to have a trusted writer (including your resume writer) review any such work as another pair of eyes, we do suggest clients prep those materials themselves.

3) The resulting documents accurately portray the background. I previously hinted at this but it is essential that the information be fully accurate. Surprisingly to some, this is very much a two-way street: the client must provide accurate information while the writer must ensure that the content correctly indicates the client’s background, accomplishments, goals, etc.

Additionally, a strong writer will be able to identify opportunities for re-positioning information to best suit a client’s goals but recognizes the line between “well-positioned” and “incorrect.” Lastly, it is not the writer’s job to verify a client’s information – honesty is the best policy, especially in the age of Google!

If you are in the market for strong resume and cover letter and are also looking for more than a service that simply reformats your info, I would also suggest considering the following points:

Collaboration: Look for a writer who will partner with you on the project. The ReFresh Your Step philosophy is that while we are the expert writers, you are the expert in you. You know your background, accomplishments, and goals best so it is ideal that we collaborate to ensure truly excellent documents. Not all writers share in this philosophy but many do. All you need to do is ask!

Methodology: Resume writing, similar to the overall job search, has changed quite a bit in recent years. We have found that it is essential for clients to understand why we did what we did with each section on the resume and overall. As such, we provide a methodology overview for each person that is tailored for each client and answers the vast majority of questions. This is especially important for the…

Interview: The resume gets you the interview and the interview gets you the job. If you follow that logic (and we suggest you do), then it is helpful to understand all aspects of the resume so you can speak to it in an interview. A highly skilled resume writer will collaborate with you on the full resume and cover letter project, provide you with the overall methodology, and prep you for the interview.

What are you waiting for? It’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew!

Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW

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