I remember as a child wanting to borrow my sisters clothes. She was older than I and her clothes were a few sizes larger. When I would put on any of her outfits, they would simply hang on me.

There was no definition of my body and the clothes didnt look good on me. Frankly, I was cheating myself out of having my own signature style that would separate me from my sister.

The same premise can be true when it comes to writing a great resume. Many times, people will borrow their friends resume and try to make it their own. Or, they will go out on a resume writers website and copy the text that is written in one or more of the samples.

Another common practice is to purchase or download resume templates that have pre-worded sections that could apply to position(s) that theyve held.

While these practices may seem like they will save you time and effort, it wont allow you to really convey what makes you unique to a potential employer. In this economy, you have to stand out not look like the rest of the crowd. There could be 5,000 people out of work, all with the same skill sets you possess.

If you fall into the trap of just putting a resume together and utilize wording that doesnt portray your value and expertise,  the likelihood of you landing interviews will be slim to none. I vehemently disagree with these practices.

Allow me to share a story that illustrates why job search candidates shouldnt try the one-size-fits-all resume-writing approach.

Recently, a recruiter who sends all of her candidates to me for resume writing sent me an email and attached a resume to it. She wondered what had happened when I wrote this particular resume because it was full of grammatical errors and wasnt my usual excellent work.

When I looked at that name of the person whose document she sent, I didnt recognize it. So, I downloaded the resume and looked in the properties section of Microsoft Word.

In the properties section was the name of a client I HAD worked with on composing her resume for utilization with this recruiter.

What I assume happened is that she felt sorry for her colleague (many of them were being downsized) and she decided to share her resume with this gentleman. They had held only one position in common the one at their current company. Every other position was different in each of their backgrounds.

This gentleman had taken my format and saved it as his own. He kept what I had written for her summary and the description of the position they both held. Then,  he added in the rest of his work experience at different companies.

To say the least, the descriptions and accomplishments he had placed in the resume for his other jobs were poorly written, not formatted correctly, and had glaring grammatical errors. Like my sisters clothes that obviously werent flattering on me, the format and flow of the information he wrote did not do him any justice!

From what I can gather, he was looking for a quick fix, and didnt want to spend the money to differentiate himself from his own colleague, let alone any other individuals in his field.

So, as the late Paul Harvey would say, And now, here is the rest of the story.

I called my recruiter and showed her the properties section which contained the name of the woman whose resume I wrote.

Not only was the recruiter disappointed that this woman would share her resume with someone else, but she also felt the woman lacked judgment by not realizing she was only hurting her own chances of obtaining future employment.

As for the gentleman who copied the resume, his resume and contact information were deleted by the recruiter. He shot himself in the foot and therefore squashed any chances of being represented by the TOP recruiter in his industry.

Further, what would have happened if I hadnt had a great relationship with this recruiter and she felt strongly enough to write me an email? Her opinion of me would have been tainted because someone tried to pass off my work as their own. Im lucky that I have cultivated a reputation with my recruiters for quality resume preparation.

So, here are my suggestions if you want to stand out in the crowded world of job seekers:

  1. Dont share the resume for which you have paid a professional to produce or one that you have carefully crafted on your own.The last thing you need is more competition and a recruiter seeing two resumes with the exact same information on them. Its like when people used to copy someone elses English paper in school. Both people would be called to the principals office and suspended because there couldnt be a determination of who copied whom. The result in the employment world is the HR Manager or Recruiter cant tell who was dishonest and will likely toss both resumes.
  2. Dont use a software package or online system with canned phrases and job descriptions to write your resume.Spend the time to determine what makes you unique and what value you bring to the next employer. Then, figure out what skill sets and accomplishments you possess, and put that information into your resume. If youre having a hard time with seeing the forest for the trees, then consider hiring a certified professional resume writer who will strategize and partner with you to bring out your personal brand and write your entire resume to reflect your unique promise of value.
  3. Dont copy the wording from a sample resume you find on the Internet or in a book.Once again, your resume should reflect your value and abilities not those of someone else.
  4. Dont just throw in the wording from current or past job descriptions on your resume.As a former hiring manager, I can immediately tell when someone does that. Further, the 15 executive-level recruiters that utilize me as their sole resource for resume writing have stated to me that when someone does that, it tells them the person is not a leader or an out-of-the-box thinker, and can only regurgitate the tasks he / she was assigned to handle.

In closing, get busy figuring out your own wardrobe (resume) that will portray your uniqueness and ultimately make you stand out from the crowd! If youre having a hard time with the process, hire a resume writer to ensure your signature look will garner the attention of recruiters or hiring managers.