There’s a trend I’ve been reading about in different discussion groups about using testimonials on résumés in addition to or even in place of references. Many of the most vocal proponents are résumé writers who promote the idea that if it’s good for LinkedIn, it should be good for your résumé. It’s a way for others reviewing your qualifications to hear what others say about your expertise. Sounds like a good idea – at least at first. But here are 5 reasons (in no particular order) for not including them on your résumé:
- Hiring managers haven’t asked for this information on résumés. The final arbiter of which information is preferred on a résumé should be the individual making the hiring decision. Not HR (usually), not the career coach, and not the résumé writer. Hiring managers do not read résumés, and they typically spend less than 10 seconds on the upper 2/3 of Page 1 where the most recent information is located. Testimonials at the end of your résumé may not get read (that’s why I advocate keeping your References as a separate document).
- Testimonials should already be available on the candidate’s LinkedIn profile so it’s unnecessarily redundant on a résumé. I am constantly counseling clients and seminar attendees to avoid redundancy with information in their cover letters and résumés and to get to the point quickly. Repeating a testimonial that is just as easily available on a LinkedIn profile violates that proverb.
- Hiring managers want to be able to ask references their own questions about a candidate’s background and expertise. Most hiring managers will not settle for “canned” testimonials on a résumé in place of references. They have their own approach to vetting candidates and their own particular questions they want answers to.
- You can’t take at face value that the testimonial was written by the reference. The testimonial could have been written by the candidate (or a résumé writer) with the reference simply agreeing to the verbiage. Book authors do this all the time with blurbs from experts or celebrities.
- There’s a question of which party actually receives the added value: the candidate or the résumé writer. Originally, I had 4 reasons why you shouldn’t include testimonials on your résumé, but another manager friend suggested I add this fifth one. According to her, the whole testimonial thing is like someone being sold an extended appliance warranty that statistically isn’t that great an investment. Most of the time, you’re paying for something that wasn’t used.
Résumé testimonials are more of an idea than actual practice now, but no doubt more instances of their use will be seen in the future. Perhaps hiring managers will come around to embracing their use on résumés. However, as hiring managers are under more pressure to do a better job vetting candidates, the cost of hiring the wrong employee is too great to not perform thorough due diligence.
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My name is Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.
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