Now that I am retired and no longer have a slush pile of resumes flowing across my desk, here is my advice to job seekers.
When writing a resume, keep in mind that the reader has reviewed at least 30 resumes before getting to yours.
They are most likely in a foul mood and only want to know two things:
- Does this person have what I am looking for?
- What kind of person is this?
The Cover Letter
If you choose to include a cover letter realize it means there is yet another page to turn and you damned well better deliver…
Here is my favorite cover letter of all time and yes, we were looking for an extremely obscure skill.
I see you are looking for a person who is skilled at [Obscure Skill]. To be brutally honest, I have never done anything like that before – but then I doubt if anyone else has either.
Take a look at what I have done. You can see I have learned a lot of difficult things and I didn’t know a blasted thing about them when I started.
I would imagine in few years you will no longer need me to do [Obscure Skill] but will desperately need me to do something else that no one has even heard of… least of all become skilled at.
Think about that.
I apologize if this sounds like arrogance, it is not, it is confidence.
Let’s talk. You will find that I am actually rather humble and easy to get along with.
Yours truly… applicant
The web is full of sound advice and great resume writing templates. Allow me to add my two cents worth. I would have loved to include this resume guide with all of our job postings but the multiple layers of management above me would not allow it.
If only someone had included this summary when their jobs were posted…
- If you are even tempted to use a word like “Synergy”… Go Away.
- We are not looking for go getters, team-players or people who can think outside the box. If your accomplishments fail to demonstrate these things, you will not convince us here.
- List things you are actually skilled at.
- Warning: three paragraphs of alphabet soup and jargon only show that you are unskilled at communicating. It makes us wonder about what else you are not good at.
- Please do not tell us that you are the CEO of a one person company. If you are, who is your file clerk?
- If you have a huge gap in employment, don’t be bashful about it. Taking a year off to change diapers or hitch-hike through Slovenia is not a mark against you. It tells us you have more on the ball than all the other candidates combined.
- Do not ramble on.
- If you have been fired from a job, tell us you were fired. Honesty is refreshing, we hire people for that. We will find out anyway. Extra points go to anyone who writes: “I was fired from my very first job because the boss was a jerk, on second thought, I was the jerk. Lesson learned.”
- If you worked at McDonald’s throughout high school, we want to know that. It shows us that you know how to show up every day on time and deal with obnoxious customers and coworkers. That kind of skill is golden.
- Do not list your degree unless it is in engineering and we are looking for an engineer. On the other hand, if you studied something unique and interesting like Fermentation Science, we are all ears.
- Please do not try to impress us with an ivy league degree. We would only worry about why you are applying here.
- If you have multiple degrees, hide the fact. It only shows that you have spent a ridiculous amount of time and money on school – which clearly demonstrates that you are not all that brilliant.