Analysis of TopResume.com Free Resume Review —
If you received a resume critique/review from TopResume.com, or trolling Yelp.com reviews, you are probably wondering whether the review is for real.
Do resume evaluations that promise an honest and straightforward assessment of your resume REALLY provide the insight you need to improve your resume to compete more aggressively in the job market?
There are some job boards that have received complaints and ► backlash by providing free resume reviews, including TheLadders.com and Beyond.com (currently defunct).
Before we dive further into this subject, let’s first talk about resume reviewer services and practices in general.
There’s a huge influx of free resume review services popping up around the internet; and for job seekers (and professional resume writers too!), the validity and value (and in some cases, lack of value) of these free resume reviews and the credentials or skills for resume reviewers are becoming an increasing concern.
The practice of providing resume reviews isn’t the problem … it’s the quality of finished reviews that are coming under fire.
The challenge with resume reviews mainly arrived when big job boards and high-volume resume mills* started offering resume reviews as part of their business development goals.
*Definition: A resume mill is a resume writing company that focuses on high project volumes, which most often means quantity over quality. Resume mills tend to hire resume writers with limited work experience and have no industry credentials, which is why you’ll oftentimes find writing services at resume mills priced between $79 – $279. The resume writer receives approx. 30% of the project’s revenue with the “lion’s share” of the profits going to the company. See the below chart. This means for projects that sell for $279, the resume writer receives approx. $83.70. Though, it’s common for the writer to get $25-$50 for writing resumes.
But, this is where the problem comes in with resume reviews.
Not impossible … but it’s certainly difficult to train someone to properly review and provide valid, on-point feedback on resumes.
This has caused untrained and unqualified staff to review resumes for companies like job boards and large resume mills that are revenue hungry.
These free reviews can draw complaints.
This is essentially a “perfect storm” for the resume writing industry.
Not all resume reviewers have experience hiring, recruiting, or writing resumes … though it’s worth noting that these aren’t absolute requirements, but are nice to have. There are experienced and certified resume writers available to you, and then there are individuals who don’t have any level of relevant experience or hold any valued resume writing credentials.
These unqualified “resume reviewers” are provided with quick training and let loose on unsuspecting professionals who are seeking honest and straightforward resume feedback. This lack of experience is depleting the quality of resume reviews being sent to professionals like you.
If you received a free resume review, keep in mind that the content may be vague. Providing vague resume recommendations within a review is common practice for resume services that are too heavily revenue-driven.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what resume critiques should have by comparing two resume critiques provided by TopResume.com.
Comparison of 2 TopResume Resume Reviews
Disclosure: The first TopResume resume review example was provided to a client for a resume I wrote for her about a month ago.
About my client … Christine is a contract attorney with experience working within legal services. She worked a short time within IT before changing over to the legal career a handful of years back.
Though she has a nice amount of experience within the legal field, I suppose you could still consider her “somewhat green,” having only received her Juris Doctorate a few years ago.
Here’s a bit about how the resume critique is broken down.
Top Resume’s resume reviews are currently broken down into 5 categories:
□ Visual Presentation & Organization
□ Resume Writing
□ Digital Readiness
□ How Tracking Systems Think of You as an Applicant
(Note: I intentionally excluded the “Resume Scanning Software Litmus Test” to this review. It’s worth noting that there is no public and free resume litmus testing/scanning software for your resume. There are only a few online resources that talk about litmus testing in general, and little has been written about how litmus testing pertains to resumes.)
Example #1: Christine’s Resume Review
At first glance, you’ll notice the top section of Christine’s resume critique starts out with a standard intro: “This free resume evaluation is intended to give you an honest…”
The visualization and organization section is where the disconnect becomes obvious between the resume reviewer’s recommendations and Christine’s resume.
First, the first recommendation within the Top Resume review states how the appearance of Christine’s resume “is not polished, and it doesn’t say ‘high potential’…”
What does that mean?
Although this may have some validity, this recommendation is vague and can leave Christine wondering what the resume reviewer is recommending on exactly how to go about polishing her resume to make it “high potential.”
Second, the next recommendation from the resume reviewer is “consider using bullet point…”
The problem with this recommendation is that 95% of Christine’s resume was ACTUALLY bulleted (with an exception of the resume summary statement), so this is the first RED FLAG that the resume reviewer MAY NOT HAVE given Christine’s resume the amount of attention it deserved BEFORE shooting off the resume review.
Third, though this key point does have some merit, I’m not sure HR managers misplace that many documents for this to be a true concern for job seekers. But, if you want an added bit of assurance, placing your contact information on the second page of your resume can be ideal.
Example #2: Albert’s Resume Review
If you notice, Albert’s resume review starts out very much the same way as Christine’s. In fact, Albert was noted as having the same issue with his resume as Christine’s as being “not polished” and not showing “high potential.”
In addition to not being polished, an additional recommendation for removing the “references available” section has been suggested.
For both Christine and Albert, the resume writing category is almost identical with exception to the middle section that states “Here are some examples of task-based sentences in your resume.”
Though I’m a strong proponent of individuals having an achievement-based resume, there are certain fields where achievements are impossible to formulate, so going with a task-based resume is the ONLY option. With Christine, this is the case.
She’s a contract attorney who has no management experience and hasn’t worked on any high-profile cases (that she can talk about) like the O.J. trial … so there’s no way to reflect anything other than task-based skills within her resume.
Also, note that the resume review mentions, “your resume doesn’t include a summary section…”
This is strange because her resume DOES have a summary section. Maybe the resume reviewer overlooked that.
With Albert, the scenario is very different, making TopResume’s recommendation more on point for him. He has been within selling roles where he can extract achievements (e.g. numbers and percentages).
So for him, shifting away from heavy task-based sentences is possible with some resume rework.
□ Digital Readiness
The size of your resume is important, as employers, job boards, and so on, sometimes have file size restrictions for resume uploads. Certain elements can inflate the size of your resume.
For example, graphics, such as company or certification logos, and sometimes large, complex tables can significantly increase the file size of your resume.
Beyond upload size, there really isn’t much reason to build upon the formatting of your resume to increase resume file size.
You may want to increase the size of your resume by further fleshing out the content of your resume; but be cautious about only adding relevant, important new data … and avoiding “content fluff.”
There’s no value-add that I know of that comes from adjusting the formatting of your resume with the purpose of increasing the file size of your resume.
I’m also factoring applicant tracking systems (ATS) too ─ ATS system don’t take resume file size into consideration.
To learn more about how ATS systems affect your resume and job-search efforts, check out this guide on applicant tracking systems.
□ How ATS Systems Think of You as an Applicant ATS systems are keyword driven, so having a solid view on how computer systems “see and interpret your resume” can certainly put you at an advantage over other job seekers.
Below you will find the keyword analysis charts for Christine and Albert.
At first glimpse, you might think these would have been compiled from each individual’s resume.
However, you would be wrong. Here’s Christine’s resume keyword analysis:
Reviewing both resumes against both resume reviews, and I quickly concluded that both keyword analysis charts MUST HAVE BEEN manually manipulated.
Here’s why I say that: If you remember, Christine has been within a legal job for the past few years with some experience within IT. But, the ATS keyword analysis is showing her top skills as being “solutions,” “access,” “architecture,” “citrix,” and “deployment.” This is strange because … most of these keywords are mentioned only ONCE in her resume and are from a job she held many years ago.
Why would legal-specific skills (keywords) show as light-weighted skills, while her IT skills show more heavy-weighted?
This is certainly something that raises an eyebrow.
And here’s Albert’s resume keyword analysis: For Albert, a disconnect starts right at the top as “legal” is showing as where the ATS thinks he fits.
Here’s the issue with that: Albert doesn’t have any legal verbage in his resume.
For example, if I shoot over to O*NET Online to search legal occupations, I find many of the expected titles: paralegals, legal secretaries, lawyers, judicial clerks, judges, arbitrators, investigators, political science teachers, and so on.
Albert hasn’t worked as a lawyer, paralegal, or any other field that might be mistaken for a job in legal. Albert has worked in mortgages, leasing, and sales ─ with sales tasks making up a high percentage of his overall career.
So, why would an ATS “think” he’s a fit for a legal job?
This is certainly a red flag with Albert’s resume review.
There are some other discrepancies too. Despite the ATS scan being correct for some of the core competencies mentioned, such as “real estate” and “mortgage,” there are others that are oddly included in the list, such as “zoning,” “permitting,” and “lending,” although these keywords represent tasks he performed 13+ years ago (aged skills), and most mentioned only once in his resume (low mention volume).
Whether your TopResume.com review is fact or fiction, be skeptical before making any radical changes to your resume. Specifically, be cautious of vague resume reviews and so-called advice … … because as you noticed above, the same resume recommendations can be applied to multiple people and resumes, leaving you wondering whether your www.Top Resume.com free review is factual and whether the resume reviewer ACTUALLY reviewed your resume at all.