Madeline Willis: Stalker of the Jobless

Another email came today from Jobfox’s Senior Resume Consultant, Madeline Willis. I get it – Jobfox is a rip off. So I’m entertaining myself by posting her emails and my responses here. Today, I actually replied to her (it?). See Madeline’s email and then my response below.

Dear Sara:

I’m writing to follow up on the suggestions I sent to make your resume more powerful. I believe we can make your resume more attractive to employers and help you get more interviews to dramatically speed your job search.

In this job market a professionally-written resume has become a necessity. Smart job seekers are using professional resumes to stand out. Companies are receiving hundreds of resumes per job, and job seekers need to present a near-perfect image to get their attention. A professional resume sends a signal that you’re more professional and committed to doing things well.

You can still save $100 on your new resume and pay $299 or just $53.28 over 6 months with your credit card if you purchase within the next 3 days. A professionally-written and formatted resume can shorten your job search, paying for itself. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Click here to learn more, or call or email me with any questions. We’re committed to helping people get hired, and I’m here to assist with your resume.


Madeline Willis
Senior Resume Consultant
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 7:00pm ET
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00am – 7:00pm ET

My response:

Dear Madeline,

This is the third email I’ve received from you. I signed up on Jobfox to find a job and I’m starting to think Jobfox doesn’t really want me to FIND a job, they just want me to PAY to have my resume “fixed.”

Now how much sense does this all make? I’ve just lost my job. NO job. Which means NO money. So how am I supposed to justify $300-$400 to spruce up my resume when I could be paying my electric bill AND my grocery bill for the next month? Perhaps you could get the employers to pay you to find quality candidates.

I don’t know if you’re a real person, Madeline, but I’m really getting the feeling that Jobfox is a big ol scam. If you’re really committed to helping me find a job, maybe you should send me jobs to which I may apply. It took me a solid two hours to get my stuff uploaded into Jobfox and fill in all the little “mini-interview” questions (Really? You’re calling it a mini-interview?) to find no matched jobs.

I want a job search engine that will point me to real jobs – not ads or scams or shady-sounding “work at home” junk. I don’t want to pay hundreds for ANYTHING. The first rule of job hunting? You do not pay to hunt for a job.


Sara Thompson



  1. Yep. You will be getting an email from Madeline for the rest of your days. There are a slew of resume “experts” at Jobfox so Madeline will give up and Peg Crits with take over. Then, another named “Peggy” will contact you. Finally since you are probably one of the new to sign up for Jobfox you will get one from the president, Mr. McGovern who will do his best to convince you that it is not a automaton hounding you with emails. Here you go:

    Dear Michelle,
    I’d like to give you advice on dramatically improving your resume. An employer is going to spend 3 to 5 seconds reviewing your resume, and it needs to clearly position you ahead of the 200 people who have applied for the job. We need your resume to be up to that challenge.

    I’ve been in the online jobs business for years, and I’ve viewed tens of thousands of resumes. It’s sad, but virtually everyone makes the same mistake that kills their chances with prospective employers. I’d like to help you do the opposite, which means attracting instead of repelling employers’ attention. The only job seekers getting job offers are doing it the smarter way.

    Here’s the mistake: Virtually everyone is programmed to write a resume describing what he or she has done. For most people, it’s a written compendium of their career. Most people are proud of their work history, and they just can’t wait to recount it on a resume. They write statements that begin with “Responsible for…” or “Managed the XYZ process.” There are at least twenty more of these bad examples. Recruiters are looking for someone who will make them look good in the eyes of the hiring manager, not a skilled personal historian. The “What I’ve Done resume” is like a sleeping pill for the recruiter.

    Our team of resume writers do the opposite. We don’t write about what you’ve done-rather we write about what you’ve accomplished. A software programmer could make the mistake by writing something like, “Worked on the database development team” which would make the recruiter say “duh” just before they passed onto the next resume. It would be better if the resume said, “Developed a program that increased database performance by 72%.” The key lesson is resumes should say what you’ve accomplished, not what you’ve done.

    Here’s the challenge: It’s not easy for most people to make this important transition. When I advise people to switch to “accomplishment speak” on their resume, even my smartest friends screw it up. The difficult trick is knowing which accomplishments will impress an employer and how to word that effectively. We work with millions of job seekers and tens of thousands of companies. This experience has made us smarter about creating resumes that are accomplishment oriented. While you could try this yourself, an easier path is to have us do this for you. We could rewrite your resume in a few days, and dramatically improve your ability to attract employer attention. Click here if you’d like this service.

    The job market is tough, but so are you. Your primary goal is to have your resume selected out of a pile of 200+ resumes. Most people don’t pay enough attention to their resume, which is an opportunity for you. You can do it.

    Enjoy your job search Sunday!

    Rob McGovern
    Founder and CEO
    Founder and former CEO, Careerbuilder
    Author: Bring Your A-Game: The ten secrets of the high achiever

    P.S. If you have any questions about our service simple reply to this email and one of our resume experts will respond.

    So you know, I got this same exact email from McGovern 2 times in one day….

    Love your blog!

  2. My very favorite part of that letter to you is this bit:

    “Here’s the mistake: Virtually everyone is programmed to write a resume describing what he or she has done. For most people, it’s a written compendium of their career.”

    Which makes me think, “Ok, I get it…I’m supposed to write a compendium of someone ELSE’S CAREER so that I sound really good! YES! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT BEFORE!!!!”

    At the VERY LEAST *I* am entertained by my correspondence with Madeline, et al.

  3. Maybe you get the letters from Madeline or Meredith (as I do) or whomever, but if it looks like a duck…

    In any case, I have just about had it with JobFox telling me that my “resume isn’t compelling enough” to make someone run to the phone and call me. As an HR professional with significant background in recruiting, I can tell you that honesty is always the best policy, and the brightest and the best of us will pervail, even under the most daunting of obstacles in this very dire employment climate. Now, how about some good news???

    • My favorite bit? “At this point, hiring someone who doesn’t use bulleted lists, strong action verbs, or boldfaced keywords is completely out of the question,” said public relations executive Max Werner, who has been looking for office managers and a CFO since 2008. “And if you’re going to end your cover letter with ‘best wishes’ instead of ‘sincerely,’ I don’t care how experienced you are—you won’t be working for me.”

  4. Here’s Madeline’s love letter to me:

    Important Message from Jobfox

    From: Madeline Willis
    Subject: Your Jobfox Resume Critique

    Dear Michael,

    I’m the Jobfox resume expert who was assigned to evaluate your resume. I reviewed your resume with the goal of giving you an honest, straightforward assessment of your current resume, and not a judgment of your skills and qualifications. I should warn you about my style: I’m direct and to the point, so I hope you won’t be offended by my comments.

    Having worked with many candidates at your career stage, I have some insight into what you are probably looking for in your next job. Most of my clients want to advance into a more senior position that will yield an increase in salary, or to advance into a role that has a career path to management in their next job. Others want to change professions or industries all together. Either way, their goal is to “take it up a notch” or do something new that will expand the depth or breadth of their experience.

    Ironically, most job seekers at your stage in their career write resumes that are targeted toward a job that is below their most recent positions. Their resumes are full of the tasks they performed and responsibilities they had, but they do not tell the recruiter or hiring manager the impact they had on the business and why they were a valuable asset to the company. They don’t highlight their areas of expertise and as a result they do not distinguish themselves from the hundreds of other applicants seeking the same job.

    So, let’s get started with a review of your resume:

    Here’s the good news: My first impression of you is that you have an impressive array of skills and experiences. You’re a qualified accounting professional with a lot to offer an employer. Now, here’s the bad news: Your resume does not pass the 30-second test, and the content is not up to the standards one would expect from a candidate like you. Countless studies have proven that resume quality is the key determinant as to whether a candidate is selected to be interviewed. Your resume needs a boost from a visual, content, and overall writing standpoint to engage the reader. It needs to make them want to learn more about you. I didn’t find it to be exciting, and it didn’t make me want to run to the phone to call you. In short, your resume is effectively sabotaging your job search.

    Michael, your resume is missing key elements that we see on the best resumes at your level of experience. Here are the major issues I see on your resume:

    Your resume’s visual presentation

    We’ve all been told that looks don’t matter as much as substance, but in the case of your resume this just isn’t true. I found your design to be visually uneven. The appearance is not polished, and it doesn’t say “high potential Account Manager.” Remember that your resume is your marketing tool. It’s the first impression a potential employer has of you. Now – think about how generic brands are marketed versus the name brand. The packaging, advertising and branding are all carefully selected to attract attention and convince you to buy. Your resume should do the same thing- you want to be the brand name product. I’m concerned that your resume is selling you like a generic, and that it’s not likely to get picked among those of other candidates. The ideal resume design is airy, clean, and uncluttered, with the effective and strategic use of white space.

    The content of your resume

    As I was reading your resume, I was trying to imagine myself as a hiring executive, looking for that ideal Account Manager. When I reviewed your resume, I asked myself if I could easily pick out your key attributes, experience, skills and accomplishments. A recruiter will do this to quickly decide if you’ll be successful in the job they have open. When I read your resume, the answer to that question was “no.” Here is one of the reasons why:

    Your resume didn’t include a summary section, which stood out to me as a key deficiency. People at your level almost always include this critical element to compel the hiring manager to keep reading. The career summary content should provide hiring managers with a brief, yet detailed synopsis of what you bring to the table. The purpose of this section is to define you as a professional and cover those areas most relevant to your career level and job target. By not having this, you are making it easier for the reviewer to say “pass” when your resume is given the customary cursory glance.

    From the way the resume is worded, you come across as a “doer,” not an “achiever.” Too many of your job descriptions are task-based and not results-based. This means that they tell what you did, instead of what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional resume writers. To be effective and create excitement, a great resume helps the hiring executive “envision” or “picture” you delivering similar achievements at his or her company. Here are some examples of task-based sentences in your resume:

    Responsible for incoming service calls as related to job orders, billing, accounts’ financial status and aging of financials
    Assisted Controller with monthly and quarterly closings
    Employers want to know about your previous contributions and specifically how you’ve made a difference. More importantly, they want to know how you are going to make a significant difference at their company.

    When I read your resume, I didn’t find compelling language that brings your work to life. I saw many passive words and non-action verbs. Phrases like “responsible for” and “performed” are overused, monotonous, and add no value to your resume. Strong action verbs, used with compelling language to outline exemplary achievements, are essential parts of a well-constructed resume.

    Now, let’s put it all together. Here’s a real life example taken from a former client’s resume. By changing the language, we helped improve the perception of the candidate.

    Passive language/ Doing: Negotiated contracts with vendors
    Action language/ Achieving: Slashed payroll/benefits administration costs 30% by negotiating pricing and fees, while ensuring the continuation and enhancements of services.
    A change like this makes a dramatic improvement. I hope you can see the difference when we implement action verbs, achievements, and results.

    The writing on your resume

    It’s easy to overlook errors in your resume. They could be typographical errors, inconsistent verb tenses, grammatical errors, punctuation problems, or misspelled words. You’ve rewritten the resume and proofed it multiple times so you may not notice the issue. But errors can be the kiss of death for your resume. Recruiters are reading your resume with fresh eyes, and they’re experts at finding errors. A misspelled word or punctuation error may not seem like a big deal, but to an employer these errors demonstrate unprofessionalism and a lack of attention to detail. That’s not the impression you want to leave. I spotted at least one of the above-mentioned errors on your resume.

    Additional issues

    • I liked your use of bullets to emphasize, but you probably want to consider limiting them in some areas to increase the impact to the employer. If they see too many bullets, they might find it difficult to zero in on the most important information. Size and type of bullets are also a consideration. Although seemingly minor, visual impact of a resume is the key to ensuring that an employer reads it thoroughly.

    • Having a References section with a list of names and contact information, or even having a note reading ‘References Available’ is unnecessary. Employers typically assume that you’ll have this on hand during interviews.

    • Make sure that the additional pages of your resume have contact information on them. If a hiring manager prints your resume, but for some reason, the pages are accidentally separated, the manager is still able to identify the additional pages. They will not spend time trying to place a page that has been separated and will move on to the next resume.

    My recommendation

    Your resume is selling you short, and I recommend that you make the investment in having it professionally rewritten. Professional resume writers are skilled at writing a resume that is targeted to the job you aspire to have. They are trained to help move you up the ladder in your field or into a new profession or industry. They know how to take what seem to be mundane tasks, and then identify the achievements and results within so that recruiters and hiring managers take notice.

    Putting your best resume forward now is critical. The sooner you invest in having your resume professionally written, the faster you increase your odds of landing a job you want. Once your old resume goes into a company’s database, it stays there permanently and could affect your candidacy for other jobs at that company as well. You will be amazed when you see the difference a professionally-written resume can make in presenting your credentials.

    Many people ask a friend or colleague to help them write a resume. Sadly, unless they are an experienced, certified resume writer, this is usually a fatal mistake. The way hiring companies process resumes has changed dramatically. Many employers now use electronic tools to capture, evaluate, and screen their incoming resumes. In this environment, a resume must be constructed with the right structure, keywords, and format to be “processed” properly by a resume tracking system. It needs to be designed to be found, selected, and tracked for a hire to happen. This is known as keyword optimization, and most non-professionals are not well-versed in this important technique.

    As I’m sure you know, be certain to send a cover letter when you forward your resume directly to a recruiter or hiring executive for a specific job. A well-written cover letter can give you a valuable edge over other candidates with similar skills. It’s the best way to make a memorable appeal that grabs attention and personally links you to the job. Use it to explain why you are uniquely qualified for the specific role. Jobfox can craft a custom cover letter that distinguishes you from the crowd (and it’s free when you purchase a professionally-written and formatted resume.)

    Why Have Your Resume Rewritten by Jobfox?

    We believe we have the best resume writers in the business. Our writers cover over 60 professions and industries. We write hundreds of resumes for candidates like you every week. Most importantly, our clients get results. Because we are a job search site, we work directly with recruiters, and we know precisely which resumes get their attention. In other words, we take a real-world approach to resume writing so that our clients are more likely to get hired.

    To encourage you to make the investment now, we are offering our best price on our resume writing services in the first 7 days after you view your resume evaluation. Save 30% off our price of $499. In addition, we are the only resume service that offers the option to pay for your resume in installments. We spread the cost over six months to make our service affordable for everyone.

    If you purchase in the next 7 days, you have the option to make a one-time payment of $349.00 (a $150 savings), or six monthly payments of $63.00. Either way, you will still have your new documents back in 4-6 business days so you can improve your chances of getting hired quickly.

    What’s included in the Jobfox Resume writing Service?

    Professionally written resume in Word format
    Professionally written reusable cover letter
    Electronic version of your resume (e-resume)
    Resume Keyword optimization

    This part I found really humorous:

    “It’s easy to overlook errors in your resume. They could be typographical errors, INCONSISTENT VERB TENSES, grammatical errors, punctuation problems, or misspelled words.”

    Really Madeline? Let’s look at some “inconsistent verb tenses” in your own correspondence to me when describing my resume:

    Here you correctly use present tense verb usage:

    “Your resume DOES NOT pass the 30-second test”
    “Your resume NEEDS a boost from a visual, content, and overall writing standpoint to engage the reader”

    Now, in that same paragraph, you then switch to past tense verb usage:

    “I DIDN’T find it to be exciting, and it DIDN’T make me want to run to the phone to call you.”

    Madeline, the above statement should read “I DON’T find it to be exciting, and it DOESN’T make me want to run to the phone to call you.” In that way you keep the same correct present verb tense for the referenced line of thought in that paragraph.

    Secondly, you state that “it’s easy to overlook errors IN your resume”. That should read “ON” your resume.

    And you want ME to pay YOU $349.00 for all of your wonderful knowledge???

    Also, you mistakenly reverse noun comparisons in the following statement:

    “Now – think about how GENERIC BRANDS are marketed versus the NAME BRAND. The packaging, advertising and branding are all carefully selected to attract attention and convince you to buy. Your resume should do the same thing- you want to be the brand name product.”

    Madeline, the statement should read “Now, (not a “-“) think about how NAME BRANDS are marketed versus the GENERIC.”

    Another one of your non-sensical pieces of advice:

    • “Make sure that the additional pages of your resume have contact information on them. If a hiring manager prints your resume, but for some reason, the pages are accidentally separated, the manager is still able to identify the additional pages. They will not spend time trying to place a page that has been separated and will move on to the next resume.”

    Madeline, contact information only goes on the resume’s front page and the cover letter, if you decide to include one. Including it on the additional pages makes it appear silly and extremely unprofessional. If the pages accidentally get separated, an employer will simply contact you and ask you to resend them if they are initially interested in what you have to tell them about yourself on the first resume page. Got it?

    Okay Madeline, for those bits of advice I gave you, I will give you a special 30% discount off of my usual fee. My price to you? ONLY $999.99! Limited time offer, so hurry! LOL

  5. After receiving more than 150 emails from Madeline, I thought I would search her name on the web to see if others have had the same experience…WOW! She and her company are clearly among the ranks of the Web’s most despised. Like many others I signed up on the site for assistance in my job search, not for daily deals on retooling my resume. Their job possibilities were scant, while the stream of their junk-emails became a torrent. After a few months I started saving them just to keep track. The number of emails in that file now numbers more than 170, and their’s no let-up in site. Although I landed a wonderful job last year, reading all of these posts serves as wonderful therapy as I deal with yet another marketing email from Madeline, the Web-stalker. Thanks to all.

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