Friday, October 9, 2009

Résumé Review

One of my least favorite parts of my job - other than finding the coffee pot empty...again - is reviewing résumés. Each fall, representatives from our department hit the college campus circuit looking for soon-to-graduate students with good grades, some baseline experience, a hunger for learning and working, a professional appearance and demeanor, and a back-stop recommendation by one of their professors.

To get to a short list of candidates from which to choose, I have to one-by-one review many bad résumés. Over 80% of the résumés I get include obvious errors or don't meet our baseline qualification requirements. In some cases, the person doesn't appear to even be qualified for employment as a Wal-Mart greeter much less what we do.

This year's crop of sterling candidates is no different. Rather than dwell on the problems, however, I wanted to spin what I've noticed as a coaching opportunity for folks seeking a job - either as a gradate looking for that first career position or as an experienced individual looking for a change.

  • If you live on Tater Peeler Rd., do yourself a favor and rent a P.O. Box. Home is a wonderful thing and all, but you really don't want to receive a decline letter in an envelope with 6900 Hairy Palms Avenue as the return address.

  • Consider meeting with a faculty advisor, spending some time on Career Builder or Monster, and/or having a frank discussion with friends or family to help define a realistic career objective. If your career objective is "to seek position where I can develop exceptional spreadsheets", you may want to true up your gun sights.

  • If you major in Applied Sciences, I recommend you make at least a "C" average in your English courses. Doing so may prevent you from misspelling Applied as Applies on your résumé.

  • To avoid snickers on my end and a volley of instant messenger LOLs, a career objective stated as "obtain a position where I can utilize my outstanding mathematics background” should be accompanied by a GPA greater than 3.1 in your mathematics major. And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the bachelor part of your math degree will likely stick with you in other areas of your life.

  • Microsoft no longer supports Windows 3.1, 95, 98, or ME. So I suggest you refrain from bragging about your sweet game with these operating systems. And unless you can explain to the interviewer why the "shut down" feature is on the start button, I'd leave off Windows XP and Vista as well. This just in - Windows runs on about 90% of the world's desktop computers. There's a pretty good chance a kid in Somalia knows as much about using Windows as you do.

  • Using Internet Explorer and Gmail does not qualify as technological skills. Don't insult the interviewer's intelligence. Substituting Firefox, Thunderbird, or Twitter doesn't add any edginess to your résumé either.

  • If you will soon be a college graduate and are seeking a professional position, your high school graduation year is pretty much irrelevant – especially when you graduated in 1991. What are you - Al Bundy or Uncle Rico trying to re-live their glorious football past?
Consider yourself mentored.

Have a good weekend.

Thanks BirminghamSteve for the vid availability.



  1. Also college students entering the job market should get a generic email address if they don't have one already. No employer wants to see "" on a resume.

  2. If you live on Tater Peeler Road and you want me to interview you, you had better be hot.

  3. Over 80% of resumes contain, is that like 81%? :)

  4. Thanks for the laugh! I'm kind of surprised Triple M didn't make the cut... Mullet Marlboro Man from Celina, TN. He was a real winner!