I like posting things about resumes, job searches and careers on my personal Facebook account and my Resumes By Benét Facebook Fan Page. I have a friend, known in this post as “Gene McCarthy,” who is a hiring manager in the Washington, D.C., area and regularly posts the crazy things he sees on the resumes he reviews.
McCartney, who works for a government contractor in the science community, says he sees between 20 and 250 resumes a month, “It all depends on the position type and requirements,” he said.
In this day and age, we’re no longer paper-based; we send electronic documents, said McCartney. “Most people now accept the limitations of electronic communications, like texts using bad grammar are accepted. And grammar is not a focus in schools anymore,” he said.
Another problem is that people job hop so much they don’t think resumes are important anymore, said McCarthy. “They just put buzz words on their resumes to catch attention,” he said. “Those submitting resumes between the ages of 18 and 25 have grown up only using instant communications, and it’s hard to reel that back in.
“I don’t know if colleges and universities are really teaching them to write real resumes or just a list of buzz words,” McCarthy continued. “I’m not sure if they’re prepared to show what they bring to the table or are just synthesizing their work experiences in keywords that come up in a search. But words still matter, especially for someone trying to make an impression in a job interview.”
McCarthy has a list of pet peeves that he sees regularly on the resumes submitted for his review. The first is people who don’t pay attention to the job requirements. “You can tell instantly because their qualifications have nothing to do with the actual job they’re applying for,” he said.
Second is the dreaded “detail-oriented phrase,” said McCartney. “It’s inevitable that phrase will show up on a resume. It actually shows that they are not detail-oriented, especially when they misspell detail oriented.”
Speaking of misspellings, these show up regularly in resumes and cover letters, said McCartney. “It’s extremely frustrating, especially for writing positions,” he noted. “I will usually move onto the next one unless it’s a very technical job. Sometimes you have to weigh skills over the errors.”
If you claim to be a writer, then be prepared to back it up, said McCarthey. “I see way too many people who claim they are writers and inevitably, they are not,” he said. “It makes you question what these people are thinking, especially if you’re an English major.”
His final pet peeve is the objective statement at the top of a resume, McCartney. “I’m always confused when I see an objective at the top of a resume because they are archaic and are usually just a generic piece of trivial and silly language,” It’s beyond frustrating because it brings absolutely nothing to a resume.”
McCartney said he can scan a resume in 10 seconds and know if it works for him. His advice for resume writers?
“Treat your resume as a story. Employers want to see a beginning, middle and end. Once you’ve laid out the story, bounce it off of three people: someone at a senior level looking for buzz words, someone that’s your peer and someone outside of your field that is a writer,” said McCartney. “If you cover those bases, then you can build something compelling.”
McCartney noted that many job applicants have a tendency to overshare in their resume, which isn’t the right place or context. “For example, I got a resume from a person applying for an IT support job. The top included his personal mantra and a photo,” he recalled. “The mantra was something about how common sense was no longer common. It was trite, lazy nonsense.”
Another person actually put a quote from the movie “Boiler Room” on his resume: “Either you’re slinging crack rock, or you got a wicked jump shot.’ Nobody wants to work for it anymore.
“I thought ‘my God. You actually put this on a resume.’ I’m sure he thought it was witty and a way to stand out, and he did — but for all the wrong reasons,” said McCartney. “I actually have a Wall of Shame. If your resume is on it, you are banned. If I see your resume again, it automatically goes to the junk pile.
McCartney said that one thing dawned on him as he looks at resumes: There are no participation trophies for simply doing a resume. “This is the first generation of participation trophies for simply showing up, and the majority of their resumes seem to show they’re expecting a trophy for simply having a resume — no content, no quality, no organization, no thought behind it,” he said. “It’s just digital trash that has always been rewarded.”
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