You've decided you need a second opinion on your resume, but where should you turn? We've gathered the top eight resources for resume critiques, as well as the pros and cons of each, to help you find the best reviewer for your needs. Professional Resume Writers Resume writers can provide excellent advice on how to improve your resume, says Murray Mann, principal of Global Career Strategies Group in Chicago and coauthor of The Complete Job Search Guide for Latinos. Pros: "Resume writers know what employers want to see in a resume," Mann says. "They are usually up-to-date on the latest trends and know which keywords are needed to maximize a resume's exposure.” Cons: The most comprehensive critiques are normally fee-based. Many firms offer free critiques, but they can be general in scope. "Remember, free critiques are often geared to sell the writer's services," advises Mann. How to Find One: Good places to check are the National Resume Writers' Association and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Career Coaches With 20 years of experience coaching senior Wall Street and corporate executives, Trisha Scudder is a pioneer in the career-coaching industry. The president of New York City-based Executive Coaching Group, she reviews many resumes on a daily basis. Pros: "A good career coach will take the time to edit your resume with you, reviewing both the big-picture impact as well as the details," says Scudder. Cons: "Unless they also coach senior executives, career coaches may not know the needs of the person likely to review your resume," Scudder points out. How to Find One: If you're unable to get a referral, check out the International Coach Federation or Career Management Alliance. Recruiters In their quest to find optimal candidates, recruiters review numerous resumes every day. Pros: "If you have the qualifications that a recruiter is looking for to fill an opening, then you could receive extensive resume assistance," says Mann. Cons: But Scudder cautions: "Recruiters are often very busy, and since they are paid by the hiring company and not you, they may not help you with your resume." How to Find One: Referrals from friends or an online search are two ways to find recruiters. Visit the Kennedy Information Directory of Executive Recruiters Web site and SearchFirm.com. Job Fairs An increasing number of job fairs provide free critiques by resume writers, career coaches and HR representatives. Pros: At job fairs offering critiquing services, "you receive expert advice with a mark-up of errors and recommended improvements," Mann explains. Cons: Your critique will often be limited to five or 10 minutes, allowing only a cursory review. How to Find One: Monster provides a list of upcoming career fairs. You can also search for events in your local paper and check with schools that might be hosting them. College Career Centers College career centers often provide resume advice to students and alumni. Pros: "These centers often have career counselors to critique your resume, either for free or at minimal cost," says Mann. Cons: Some career centers advocate a standard, one-size-fits-all resume format that might not meet your needs. If your college doesn't offer resources for critiquing resumes, ask your academic advisor or a professor for assistance. How to Find One: Check your school's Web site for career services and ask if the office provides resume critiques. Industry Professionals Many professional associations offer resume critiques. If your job search is not confidential, you may also ask your supervisor or trusted colleagues, says Scudder. Pros: "Your boss knows the mind-set of hiring executives in your field, and he or she knows the industry jargon that you should include in your resume," Scudder says. Similarly, professional associations know what is expected in your industry. Cons: "Colleagues or supervisors might not realize your resume's weaknesses," Scudder cautions. And associations might charge an extra fee for a resume review. How to Find One: Search online for associations in your field. Government Agencies Put your tax dollars to work for you by taking advantage of the services offered at the federal, state or local level. Pros: There are government programs that offer no-cost vocational and employment services, including resume reviews. Cons: Eligibility for some programs may be restricted, and there could be long wait times. How to Find One: Visit your state government's Web site to learn about career-related programs. State and Local Government on the Net provides state-specific links to government offices. At the federal level, check out Job Corps and the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Monster’s Resume Tips Message Board Monster members can post their resumes -- strip out all personal information, please -- on the Resume Tips message board to get feedback from other job seekers. Pros: You can receive free advice on how to strengthen your resume and handle dilemmas such as job-hopping or changing careers. Cons: Not everyone gets in-depth feedback, and you may receive conflicting advice from the community. How to Find It: Visit the Resume Tips message board.
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