Here’s a really interesting take on the whole “getting people to help with your resume/cover letter/whatever” thing by a professional resume writer.
Dawn Bugni writes that asking for opinions in a broad, general sense can actually be hurtful.
I worked with a laid-off salesman a while back. He LOVED his resume; was excited to launch the search. He felt on top of the world. Then he showed it to 10 people. Guess what? Ten people had twenty different opinions….What little confidence he had was shot, his head was spinning and he wasn’t sure what to do or where to turn….
This most likely could have been avoided had he asked for feedback differently: “I really like my resume. I engaged with a professional who helped me focus on a specific target using a strategy successful in 2011. (Or I’ve done extensive research … ) “Would you mind reading it over for clarity, please?” Or, “You know my career quite well. I’m trying to spotlight this set of skills as I transition industries. Will you please read my resume and see if you remember anything I did that might be a better example?” Or, “Would you proofread this for me please? I’m good with the content and format. I just want a second set of eyes to catch any errors I may have missed.”
Each of these examples sets the expectation for the type of input requested. The need for your friend, associate or whoever to figure out what you need and in turn, how to be valued is eliminated.
In other words, if you just show your resume to someone and say “So, what do you think?” the tendency is for that person to try to find something to pick at, just so they’ll feel useful. That might not translate into the best advice.
Moral of the story: As with most requests for help in a job search (whether that be for leads, advice, or resume reviewing) it pays to be specific.