A client of mine told me in our initial call that he was so impressed with an executive resume sample on my website, he was tempted to copy some of it.
He said that one or two of the opening brand bites described him to a tee. He wanted them in his resume. I explained why he shouldn’t and couldn’t “re-use” content in my samples.
Another potential client had actually swiped an entire brand statement verbatim from one of my samples. You can imagine my shock when I reviewed his existing resume, before our initial chat. I set him straight about his mistake.
This has happened only a few times that I’m aware of. But I’m sure lots of people are stealing the content from my samples. For the most part, they have the sense not to parade it in front of me.
What’s Wrong with Copying an Executive Resume Sample?
You probably know that thousands of good resume samples are readily available online. And thousands of resume books are full of thousands more.
Strategic resume writing is always changing to meet the needs of people assessing candidates, and the job seekers themselves. So it’s a good idea to take a look at up-to-date samples by top resume writers, before attempting to write your own. This helps you get a handle on new trends in formatting and how to pull a good one together.
Look, but don’t copy from a sample.
Although you should take a look at executive resume samples, don’t be tempted to copy from them.
One big reason is personal branding. A great resume uniquely brands that specific job seeker. What you read in a sample may sort of sound like you, but it isn’t really you.
Don’t you want hiring decision makers to clearly know what differentiates you from competing candidates, and why your ROI makes you the best hiring choice?
You can only do that by building your resume with your own unique brand messaging showcasing your own unique combination of key attributes, expertise, drivers and passions.
The achievements on a sample couldn’t possibly be the same as yours. The situations, people involved, metrics and facts are all different . . . even if only slightly different.
Your own approach to solving the problems that led to your achievements provide evidence to support your executive brand promise. Don’t settle for generic achievement statements that sound good, but aren’t really authentic for you.
What a uniquely-yours resume does better than any sample ever could.
Your resume needs to target specific employers and a specific kind of job, based on your research uncovering good-fit companies and the challenges facing them right now. This is how you create branded personal marketing communications that will resonate with a specific target. The resume sample you liked probably didn’t target the same employers you’re targeting.
The sample that’s tantalizing you can’t possibly align what you have to offer with the current needs of your target employers. You HAVE to determine the key functional areas that will be important to them, and pump your resume with your expertise and contributions in those specific areas.
The formatting of your resume and placement of critical information depends upon the compelling content you’ve created and how best to position your value promise to your specific target employers. The sample may be spotlighting things that don’t at all apply to your situation.
A sample resume could be tied to a real person.
Even though the resume samples you see probably have fictionalized names and other identifying information, they’re most likely real resumes written for real people who may still be actively job searching. The samples on my websites were created for actual clients.
The resume sample that you copy may be in circulation right now for the same jobs you’re interested in. It may be hitting the computer screens or desks of the same people you’re trying to impress. How do you think it will impact your chances, if someone reviewing your resume realizes it’s suspiciously similar to another one they have in their files?
Don’t kid yourself. Copying from a sample is plagiarism . . . that is, stealing.
“Using” published content is stealing and violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
ANYTHING published online is automatically copyrighted to the author, whether or not it carries a copyright statement. Integrity is a critical attribute for any business leader worth her or his salt. Certainly, your ethics should dissuade you from plagiarizing.
If that doesn’t stop you, do you really want to risk a law suit that could possibly tarnish your online and offline brand reputation?
There’s just no way around it — you have to invest the time and do the work or hire a professional (and still expect to do some hard work), if you want to make your mark in today’s overly-competitive executive job search landscape. But use your head. Don’t present your career coach or resume writer with a resume that includes content from one of their samples.