By Joyce Lain Kennedy

Experts don't always agree. For example, Expert A says to send a one-page resume, Expert B says to send a two-page resume, and Expert C says don't send a resume but get inside the interviewer's office and sell yourself.

You've been writing about career matters for quite a while -- what is your advice about advice? How do you know who knows and who doesn't know what really are the best moves? -- R.H.K.

In four words I can sum up much of what I've learned about careers: to each his own.

In the example you give, a new graduate is well-presented in a single-page resume; an experienced manager can benefit from two pages; and a salesperson may be able to forego a resume and just sell his or her way into an interview office.

Each expert instruction can be correct for someone. The trick is in knowing when it has your name on it.

While experts may disagree on strategy or tactics, some years ago I came to the conclusion that absolutism is out and relativity is in.

RED FACE. That realization resulted from an embarrassment in the 1980s while I was editing a nationally distributed careers magazine for secondary-school readers. I inserted into an article the remarkably rotten resume of Juan S., a graduating senior at a local high school. Not only was his resume disjointed and useless, Juan had decorated it with his picture -- think mug shot on a wanted poster. Alongside Juan's "bad" resume sample, I placed several "good" resume samples and, of course, exhorted readers to emulate the latter.

Guess what happened. Yep, Juan was the first person in his graduating class to be hired for a decent job. Don't ask me why. The experience was a wake-up call, alerting me to the fact that there are no absolutes in the career adventure.

CLARITY POINT. In emphasizing the importance of relativity in deciding what's right for you in career issues, I'm not suggesting that quality of knowledge doesn't matter. It does! In hopping along the job-search trail, some experts are demonstrably superior at helping you identify potential employers and organize your information to assure you'll get interviews, then offers. The same is true for overall career-management challenges. Color me immodest, but by now, decades later, I think I know who many of the career-care stars are and how they think.

So when I don't already have the information I need to respond to a reader's question, I track down people whom I consider to be creditable experts, interview them, and close by asking, "Who else should I be talking to?"

A reliable and favorite source of expertise comes from The FENG (, a nonprofit 35,000-member network of financial professionals in transition. A member recently wrote a note to the group describing the happy conclusion of his successful job search just in time for the holidays. Here are a few of the things he said.

-- "After an arduous 19-month search, I transitioned from an ill-fitting position as a director of finance to a vice president position that is a perfect fit for my skill set, with excellent upward mobility. I send this to share a sense of hope and key lessons I picked up along the way.

-- "Resist the temptation to allow your gap in employment to define you negatively -- define yourself by your strengths and successes. Project yourself as a starting player looking for the right team, rather than someone trying to come off the bench.

-- "Be able to clearly and consistently communicate your value proposition -- don't chase after jobs that are not a tight fit for your skill set.

-- "Create a "no-whiners power group" that acts as your board of advisers. Accountability and brutally honest feedback allowed us to make course corrections and stay motivated.

-- "Build your network by granting favors to others -- not asking for them. Once people realize you care, they become more interested in your success. Happy New Year. Good luck to all."


When Experts Disagree on Career Tactics | Jobs & Careers

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