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résumés

Light blogging. Crap to do. Like go through 35 résumés. Keep running folks off. A few of my peeves about résumés:

It’s spelled résumé (that é can be created by either hitting alt+0233 or using the character map). It’s not spelled resume or resume’.

Leave off the funky fonts and graphics (ETA: Bold, italics don’t fax legibly)

Learn the difference between ensure and insure.

Unless you’re applying for a management job, UN Ambassador, or professorship, your résumé should be one page and one cover letter.

I’m not a fan of putting personal stuff on résumés (like which church you attend, number of kids, married, etc.). I personally hold none of that stuff against folks but some people do. Don’t risk it.

Use an email address that indicates your name, such as firstname.lastname@suchandsuch.com. Not hobbies or sexual innuendo, like darklordofthesith@suchandsuch.com, hotmom69@suchandsuch.com, or ratherbefishing@suchandsuch.com.

Use action verbs. Don’t say Responsible for . . ., say Managed . . . or Administered . . . or something indicating action.

Speaking of verbs, past jobs should be in past tense. Current job, present tense. And be consistent in verb usage.

Less is more: Don’t say due to the fact when because will do. Don’t say in order to when to will do. This is helpful in getting it down to one page.

Focus on accomplishments, not duties.

I know you may have downloaded a template for your letter or résumé and that’s fine. But change the titles. Don’t address me as Dear Hiring Executive or Dear [click here]. Just sayin’.

I will google your name, after the first interview.

Spell check is your friend. In fact, get another friend to read it. S/he may find something you missed.

If you were unemployed, just explain the gap in the interview. If you were unemployed to stay home with children, explain that in the interview too. Don’t say you ran private daycare. It’s not that funny.

I’m not sure how I’d word web-savviness either, but the phrase Proficient in the Internet just doesn’t sound right.

And, really, are you qualified for the job you’re applying for? Just asking.

Update: There is some disagreement over spelling résumé. I blame the French. It’s also a problem for web browsers and email readers, as I noted here.

37 Responses to “résumés”

  1. Robb Allen Says:

    How do you ensure that my name is the name you ended up Googling? I have a common name with an uncommon spelling and can easily be mistaken for a morbidly obese gay man with depression (that’s not a joke, btw). That’s, of course, assuming you look up Robb instead of Robert. Using the latter, I’m a scam artist trying to sell you ways to get rich.

    Of course, most accurate Googling of me will result in gun stuff, so I’m starting to understand why my last interview has resulted in silence 😉 Luckily, I didn’t need the job as I have one already.

    Need a .Net programmer that can work from Florida?

  2. ben Says:

    I post my “real” homepage on my resume. That’ seems to work. Maybe if you have internet savvy, then you are googlerific!?

  3. Nomen Nescio Says:

    It’s spelled résumé

    in French, most assuredly. in English, i could argue that we may anglicize its spelling as a now-adopted loan word to “resume”, since this language is not too hot on accents and umlauts. (indeed, that’s how i spell it on mine.) using only a single one of them is being wishy-washy and wrong in any language.

    and keeping resumes short without leaving apparent holes in any of education background, work history, or the skills list (and thus getting passed up for interviews because the damn thing has suspicious holes in it) is mindlessly hard. i’ve managed to keep mine to two pages so far, but it’s a struggle.

    finally, being qualified for a job isn’t that cut and dried in my field. i’ve never done .net programming (for instance), but i’ve done enough other programming to know i could pick that platform up relatively easily too. yet i likely wouldn’t apply for a .net job, because i know folks who make themselves MS-only shops usually love to tick off check-box lists and don’t always stop to think about core skills and basics, so they’d be likely to reject me for not having the silly box ticked. could i do the job? did that falling tree make a sound?

  4. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    I’m now 32 and have worked at four or five jobs in the telecom field. Keeping my resume to one page is going to make it look like I’m hiding something.

    I do agree about explaining gaps in the interview, not trying to explain every two month period where you were looking for work on your resume. Uncle is correct about the KISS principle stuff…

  5. Sebastian Says:

    Good advice. The name googling thing is exactly why I blog under a pseudonym. Fortunately I share a name with a Canadian MP, so either I look really good, or really bad, I guess, depending on your point of view. A search on SciFinder I think turns up a talk I give at conferences. Professional search engines are pretty useful too, especially in a technical field.

    I’ve always hated hiring in this job. I reject 5 resumes and I get told I’m being too picky, and I have to bring one in for an interview. So I pick the least awful of the bunch. Too many empire building managers are more eager to fill their head count allotments than they are to be careful about hiring and get the right people. Needless to say, we’ve hired some real losers. The few truly good people we’ve found have been through existing employee referrals rather than off the street.

  6. Standard Mischief Says:

    I use an email like this:

    term-of-art@firstname-lastname.com

    I could use firstname@firstname-lastname.com, but I would just drown in spam. I always hope the person I interview will understand and ask me about the “term of art”/jargon, but so far no one has.

    I send my resume as a Word 95 attachment. What does everyone think of that? I’m hoping whatever the interview-person uses, that it can at least open that format. Just in case, I note in my email that I have a copy of my resume in both Word and PDF formats available on my website.

    I use resume. I’m afraid that you might have your mailer program mis-configured and you will get all the cool accents mangled

  7. Nashville is Talking » Tips For Job Hunters Says:

    […] SaysUncle has a few words for those of you who would like a job. It’s spelled résumé (that é can be created by either hitting alt+0233 or using the character map). It’s not spelled resume or resume’. […]

  8. Standard Mischief Says:

    but the phrase Proficient in the Internet just doesn’t sound right.

    Tube-meister?

    google-fu?

  9. SayUncle Says:

    Heh. I’d probably hire someone just for using the term google-fu.

  10. Standard Mischief Says:

    Re: résumés spelling

    Note the text in the trackback from Nashville is Stalking. Now note the “search engine friendly URL” for this post in WordPress.

  11. SayUncle Says:

    Yeah, i noticed that before.

  12. Kevin Says:

    Writing a resume (I don’t have an alt key) well is just a reflection of how well you write, period. And, for that, the best help is Strunk and White.

  13. Nomen Nescio Says:

    I send my resume as a Word 95 attachment.

    then you’re lucky i’m not in a position to hire you, for i’d drop the email unread. use your PDF version. PDF is a much better format than word-anything.

    (PDF can be read by multiple different programs on pretty much any operating system out there. word can basically only be read by MS software, and by a few others who care enough to reverse engineer MS software, such as OpenOffice.org. added bonus: PDF was made to describe printed pages such that a correctly-made PDF should always print out the same, everywhere; word may achieve something similar, but that was never its main goal.)

  14. Jeff Soyer Says:

    Great. Someone googles my name and comes up with the “gay gun nut.” Good thing I’m not looking for a job. . . And yes, “googles” is now officially a verb.

  15. Standard Mischief Says:

    Oh, I forgot to comment on this:

    And, really, are you qualified for the job you’re applying for? Just asking.

    seriously, I’ve seen people ask for the fucking moon and the stars in an interview. Hell, I’ve even blogged about it. The interview person was impressed I googled the company before the interview, was quite impressed with my knowledge of Word and other MS programs, was quite impressed with my customer service experience, management experience, and then proceeded to tell me that I’d need none of those skills that they requested if I was hired.

    Also, this whole post is quite a coincidence, as I just moments ago got a call to set up for a job interview.

  16. Standard Mischief Says:

    then you’re lucky i’m not in a position to hire you, for i’d drop the email unread. use your PDF version. PDF is a much better format than word-anything.

    Thanks for your comment, I feel the same way. However 90% of the time when they ask for a preference, it’s for it to be in MS Word format. The extra 10% is just asking for plain text pasted into the email message. When I say I have it as a PDF, but I could convert it, 50% of the time the PDF is OK.

    Let me clarify, in my original email I have the direct link to my PDF resume. That’s not good enough?

    I use OpenOffice too, and I’m always afraid that when I save it down to MS Word format, something will get screwed-up, but that’s what the people ask for.

  17. Standard Mischief Says:

    Yeah, i noticed that before.

    Ah, that’s where I got it. If it’s any better, when I control the presentation, I always use the French spelling. So that hardcopy I have with me when I walk in for the face-to-face interview always have those little thingys looking that way.

  18. _Jon Says:

    My car can print my resume. It has a button for it right there on the steering wheel. I have no idea how it knows….

    Seriously, though, if you are looking for a computer person, check out Joel’s excellent site:
    http://jobs.joelonsoftware.com/

  19. Xrlq Says:

    I always provide mine in PDF format unless specifically asked for Word or whatever. I figure a PDF will always display and print the way I want it to, while it’s all too easy for someone to inadvertently edit or repaginate a Word doc. I would hope not too many employers would care, since failing to provide a résumé/resume only shows you’re too cheap/poor to buy Adobe Acrobat, not that there’s anything terribly wrong with you. I always write “résumé,” but wouldn’t come down too hard on someone who writes “resume,” only on the illiterate boobs who write résume, resumé or resúme.

  20. Robb Allen Says:

    I use an email like this:

    term-of-art@firstname-lastname.com

    Sometimes, since I run my own email server, I’ll put companyname@robballen.com so I can accurately kill it when a particular email starts getting spam.

  21. Nomen Nescio Says:

    Let me clarify, in my original email I have the direct link to my PDF resume. That’s not good enough?

    that’s a good question, actually. now, me, i’m such a fossilized old net.fart that i only send plain-text emails, but even i’ve had to accept that that’s puritanical now. the main problem i see with links in email is, what if your web hoster goes down or chews your site just at the crucial moment that prospective employer wants to check it out? i think it’d be nice if the application email could be as self-sufficient as possible, for the convenience of whoever you’re applying to.

    but i could be weird about that. is there a consensus on the matter out there?

  22. gattsuru Says:

    I loathe PDF simply because it’s an expensive and inefficient format. FoxIt reader has reduced the latter problem, but I still find it more effort than it’s worth unless the company asks for PDF explicitly.

    If they don’t care, I try to go with something that matches the position. Web design meets with HTML (since every modern computer can deal with that without any further installation), for example.

    But most of them ask for “Microsoft Word”, and don’t even specify the subtype.

    I couldn’t get my resume under one page since I was twenty-five. Just writing the locations and contact info for places I’ve worked fills a page, nevermind trying to explain exactly what “Systems Administrator/Designer” for a rapid product development firm does (hint: a little bit of everything).

    And googling my real name gives you nothing related to me… thank for pen names.

    Good luck dealing with the resume work, Saysuncle.

  23. Scott Says:

    I would add… follow the damn instructions! If a job listing says to mail a resume to “Search Committee,” don’t send it to “Human Resources Manager.” If it says to send writing samples, don’t waste my time and yours sending a resume without writing samples. You may otherwise be the perfect candidate for the job, but if you start out demonstrating an inability to follow simple instructions, your resume gets roundfiled without a second thought.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to even say this. But here in the real world…

  24. Scott Says:

    I think most engineering jobs can be added to your list of professions requiring multiple pages. In engineering, single page resumes are for new grads. You gotta wonder why a thirty-something has only one page of education, job experience, and skills…maybe he has only one page of skills??!!

    Regardless, the meat of the resume belongs on page 1. Supporting information belongs on pages 2 and 3.

    My dictionary includes r’esum’e and resume.

  25. tgirsch Says:

    I’m actually back to stable enough employment that I could provide a good six years of work history and keep it down to one page, but it wasn’t always like that. I did contract work for much of 1999 and 2000, and probably had at least six different gigs in that span alone. In the interests of brevity, I just lumped them all together on the résumé as a single “Independent Contractor” entry.

    And I’m a big fan of saving typing whenever possible: Alt-130 works gives you an é with one fewer keystroke than the Alt-0233 “vérsion.” 🙂 Also worth noting that you have to use the numbers on the number pad. Using the numbers above the QWERTY won’t work.

  26. Dave Says:

    I just sent a résumé/resumé/resume out this morning. Comes in under 3 pages. I was requested to send a Word version but I have HTML versions on my site (one for IE and one for everyone else). Getting a PDF version would be a good idea – don’t want to spend the money on Acrobat though just for that…any ideas on where else to get PDF generator?

    Also, I include a link to my website right under my name, email, and address.

  27. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    Heh…go ahead an google my name. I have the same name as a former prime minister of a foreign country, so you have to go at least 10 pages deep to find one that’s actually me. Even then it’s just race results from some races I’ve run in.

  28. Nomen Nescio Says:

    cheap PDF generator? OpenOffice.org will turn most anything into PDF for a few hundred megs of disk. oh, and it’s a complete office suite, too.

    or if you just want PDFs, there are “print-to-file” PDF-maker printer drivers out there. i use one called PrimoPDF. not really sure if it’s the best one, though, or just a convenient one — i run Windows only very seldom.

  29. gattsuru Says:

    Dave, I personally use OpenOffice, which has native support for writing into PDFs, but I hear recent versions of Word can do it as well, although you may need a Microsoft download. GhostScript can deal with it as well.

  30. chris Says:

    I never knew you were such a man of letters.

    I thought that you were a number cruncher.

    These are great tips, though.

    The 12,000,000 illegal aliens aren’t the only ones who need to start using our native language.

  31. Gallatin to China at Ninth Stage Says:

    […] *UPDATE: Uncle spanks. […]

  32. SayUncle » résumés - 2 Says:

    […] I should be clear what I meant about résumés. I find it is acceptable to have a multi-page résumé depending on the position you’re […]

  33. UnSpecified Chatter » Blog Archive » My Pet Peeves About Resume Readers Says:

    […] (SE Michigan), as recently as last winter, I would like to give the other side of the coin to Mr. Say Uncle’s provocative yet useful list of Resume Pet Peeves. Just to let you all know that there are two sides to every […]

  34. Lean Left » Quote of the Day, 2007-06-20 Says:

    […] response to SayUncle’s résumé nit-pick fest, we find this: Screw you! How is that for an “Action” verb! This is the most trite resume […]

  35. Paul Tomblin Says:

    My resume is in HTML. Not only can I just point people to the URL, most mailers can handle it too. Sure, it’s not as pretty as some, but it’s clear and readable, and if you reject me in favour of somebody with worse qualifications but a prettier resume then I don’t want to work for you. It also spans over 20 years of working and 10 different jobs, so you’re damn right it’s over a page long.

    I’m not sure how I’d word web-savviness either

    I’m not sure I’d put “I’m good at wasting company time looking at fark and slashdot” on a resume, myself. Maybe that goes in the cover letter? If it’s a requirement, I’d say I was a “netinja”.

  36. SayUncle Says:

    if you reject me in favour of somebody with worse qualifications but a prettier resume then I don’t want to work for you

    I’m not saying that. I am saying that a résumé is what gets you in the door. If you have 35 candidates for one job, those that stand out get in.

    I’m not sure I’d put “I’m good at wasting company time looking at fark and slashdot” on a resume, myself.

    Now that’s funny.

  37. Standard Mischief Says:

    that’s a good question, actually. now, me, i’m such a fossilized old net.fart that i only send plain-text emails, but even i’ve had to accept that that’s puritanical now. the main problem i see with links in email is, what if your web hoster goes down or chews your site just at the crucial moment that prospective employer wants to check it out? i think it’d be nice if the application email could be as self-sufficient as possible, for the convenience of whoever you’re applying to.

    You have convinced me, Nomen. Future jobhunting emails will include both plain text links to the files on my server (to prove my google-fu) and attached copies of my resume in Word 95. Word 94/2K/XP, Rich Text Format, OASIS OpenOffice, PDF (both the current version and in Acrobat 3 (i.e. PDF 1.2), because 3 makes for a much more compact file), HTML, Wordprefect, WordStar, and of course plain text.

    Thanks for the feedback.