Resumes have become a joke!


As someone constantly on the lookout for talent to either staff or recruit, I come across many resumes. And barring a few, most resumes suck! And I think that’s because everyone knows how to write a “good resume,” thanks to the internet or the business comms class in college or that $14 book that picked up on how to smash interviews out of the park.

And despite all their expertise, people would “float” their resumes around for validation or “feedback” for trashy advice in return. I think someone needs to bring about a revolution in this space; or have the humility to heed the following advice to the tee:

  1. A resume is a marketing document for your brand.
  2. It should fit on a single page. Anything longer doesn’t serve the purpose and is inefficient. Recruiters don’t have all the time in the world to review your biopic; their time is valuable.
  3. If your resume doesn’t reflect your capacity to do the job you’re applying for, you’re sending them yet another document that will either be trashed, archived or passed on to someone else who will criticise or archive it.
  4. If possible, use bullet points; not many of them, though, bullets kill, and this isn’t war. An alternative to bullets will be plain text indented to the right.
  5. Use strong but straightforward verbs such as led, managed, created, built, sold, exceeded, presented, collaborated, implemented, and succeeded. It’s okay to repeat this across the document; the idea is to make an impression while communicating your ability to make an impact.
  6. Don’t add unnecessary information that doesn’t add value. Nobody gives a damn about your date of birth, gender, hobbies (reading isn’t one… it’s a necessity), the number of languages you know but haven’t mastered, the only country that you went to for a conference sponsored by your company.

I love this statement from A-J Aronstein, Dean of Barnard College’s Career Center (much of the ideas on this post were inspired from his original piece):

Résumés do violence to language. They are poetry, inverted. You must dry the joy from the bones of words; drain the human sauce; leave a laboured husk printed on eggshells. Only then can you guilelessly communicate that you were on the dean’s list at your university for five of eight total semesters. And hope it matters.

Do yourself a favour — write a resume that matters to your recipient. Include the things that they care about. How would you know that? Research, please. If you’re worried that will take away the time you spend on applying for new jobs, believe me, mindlessly clicking on that damned “easy apply” button isn’t going to land you a job.

A well-thought-out resume and cover letter sent to a company you want to work for are far more effective. But make the resume about them by including things that are important to them and how your experience can add value to their objectives.

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