Recently I spoke to my friend, who runs a graphic design firm, specializing in websites and printed materials for the restaurants. After five years doing everything himself, he decided it was time to take on either an assistant, or an intern. So, like benevolent Pokemon Go players, we put out some lures in the form of help wanted ads and online postings.
Together we’ve expected a dozen or so resumes. Yet ended up receiving more than a hundred of these things. (That’s exactly why I was dialled for help). That’s a lot of people who want to work in a cramped, rented space with a moody guy like him and his ancient dog. Note to any potential applicants; he will kick you out of the workspace before he ever does that to a dog :)
Anyway, you’d think it would be awesome to get such a great response. Well, it was at first. Then, we actually started reading these resumes. I haven’t shit canned so many documents so quickly in my entire life!
If there is one thing that I can do today, that is to help folks learn how to avoid doing the things that make people like me roll my eyes and hit the delete button. If you want to create a resume that doesn’t suck, keep reading.
Prove That You Can Read! Follow The Instructions!
Okay kids! If I ask you to send your resume in a specific format, that’s not optional. It’s also not optional to use the email subject line that I tell you to use. Do not deviate from that. I use email filters, and your resume will wind up deity knows where if you don’t.
If your resume does happen to find its way to me, the minute I see that you didn’t follow my instructions, I will no longer longer consider you for hire. Now, maybe you’re thinking you wouldn’t like to work for someone like me anyway. That’s fine by me, but this post is a public service. Nobody else is going to hire you either. Do what you’re told, snowflake.
Pick a Decent Font
Yes, the whole Comic Sans font sucks is all played out. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other fonts that also suck. Take a look at you default font. Is it serifed? That means, does it have the little embellishments on each letter. If so, don’t send use it on your resume.
Fonts with serifs can be pretty to look at, but they make documents with relatively small print hard to read. Why would you want to make your resume hard for me to read? Pick a non serifed font, but not Comic Sans, because it really does suck.
Make It Feel Special
I’m pretty sure that at least half of the resumes that I’ve read were also submitted to my local Dunkin Donuts and Forever 21. I say this, because nobody seemed to think that customizing their resume for a job opening was important enough.
The person that might hire you took the time to detail the skills and experience that they want you to have. Maybe, just maybe you should mention that you have those skills and experience in your resume. Even better, find a way to highlight those. You could put them at the top of your resume. Maybe you could even highlight or underline them.
It’s Okay to Lie as Long as It’s a Sweet Sweet Lie of Omission
So, you got fired from KFC for smoking a joint behind the dumpster. On day three of what was supposed to be a long and lucrative career as a Starbucks barista, ‘Mckynleigh’ bitched at you for misspelling her name. In retaliation, you chugged her cocoa-soy, frappe latte yaya in front of her, shoved the meager contents of the tip jar into your pockets, and bounced.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’d hire you. I’d hire the crap right out of you. Unfortunately, other people might consider you to be a high risk employee. So, what are your alternatives?
Lie. Lie like Shaggy in that one song. No, not that song, the other one with the guy singing about getting caught cheating on his girlfriend. Just be smart about it. Unless you are applying at a place that conducts background checks, you can usually just leave questionable employment history off of your resume altogether.
If they ask, you were helping your uncle build a house, or feeding orphaned cats. If you must include an employer, your reason for leaving is always this: ‘It just didn’t fit in with my goals.’ That is the kind of generic and plausible lie that people are going to buy. Then take your chances that person providing the reference check doesn’t want to dig up old skeletons. Hint, most of them don’t.
Do not, under any circumstance, put in a fake employer. Don’t concoct an elaborate story or accuse your ex boss of some wrongdoing.
Remember that if an employer catches you in a lie, they are pretty much obligated to throw out your resume. So, omission or vagueness are your two choices here.
Don’t Try to Format Your Own Resume
Actually, if you work for me, you should format your own resume. I really want to see your understanding of positive and negative space, use of color, and what you think is aesthetically pleasing. If you are applying anywhere else though, just don’t.
You cannot roll your own, professionally formatted resume in Word, Google Docs, or whatever ‘alternative’ word processing software that you use. Here, check this out.
This is an above the fold screen grab from Freesumes. Don’t these look really nice? Professional designers created these using colors, spacing, font selection, and by following the rules of graphic design. The folks that make these also have access to a very large suite of expensive design tools, and full libraries of visual assets.
You don’t even know what a visual asset is. Find a resume format that works well for you. If you aren’t sure what to use, check out other people’s resumes who work in your industry. The internet is full of them.
Don’t Forget to Link To The Social Media Stuff You Want to Show Off
Oh, but I don’t have a social media presence!
If you don’t have a social media presence, it’s time to get one. No, the one where you share pictures and memes doesn’t count. Create a LinkedIn account. Build an online portfolio. Start a blog. Join communities on Facebook that relate to your industry. Share your thoughts, participate, engage, become a known person. Then, provide links to your social media accounts in your resume.
Employers aren’t going to hire you based upon the information that you have crammed onto a single page. Your professional, social media presence lets them get to know you better. Besides, this is one place where you are in control of the messaging.
Don’t Forget Flattery
Okay, this part doesn’t go on your resume, but it’s still important. Take some time to include a personalized cover letter with your resume. Then, make it all about the person you want to work for. Tell them exactly why you want to work for such a great business that has achieved X, and why you want to work alongside such a talented person has done (insert very specific thing here).
If your cover letter is some regurgitation of, I would love to advance my career by working for your company. I look forward to meeting with you in the future, you aren’t doing it right.
Remember That Nobody Cares About Your Objective
If you must, include a personal summary of your experience and qualifications. Personally, I’d rather you left it off altogether.
If you want to land a job, act like it. Don’t submit some quickly thrown together garbage, and expect me or anyone else to call you back. Spend some time on your resume. Make sure that it is customized to the job that you want. Mostly, don’t piss off the person who might hire you.
Note: Obviously this post isn’t aimed at folks aiming for executive positions or top managerial roles :)