… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Resume advice

Right now, there are a lot of people who are probably scouring every website, blog, book, and consultant service looking for ways to improve their resume. I’ve said it myself, your resume is the first thing that any recruiter or hiring manager will see so it is important to put your best foot forward. Clear, professional, and focused to the type of work/industry/company that you are applying for is what you need in a resume. But for some people, that’s not enough anymore. Now, it has to be remarkable. It has to better, cooler, hipper, whatever, just MORE than anyone else. And I think the hysteria around resumes is getting a little out of hand.

I understand the desperation and the desire to get noticed. It’s heartbreaking to know that you would kick butt in that position if only you could get a chance. Unfortunately, sometimes what gets you is not how good you are, but how good your competition is. So what can you do about it when the only thing you think you can control is the resume you send out? You desperately seek out any perceived advantage you can get and so you focus so much energy on your resume.

Let me be straight with you: Yes, your resume is important and yes, it needs to be good. But is having the best resume the best strategy for getting a job? No, it’s not. A great resume has the potential to get you noticed, but you know what else can get you noticed? Networking, Blogging, going straight to the hiring managers, etc. Repeat after me: Do not put all your eggs in one basket and do not pin all your hopes on your resume.

In my time recruiting, I’ve seen hundreds of resumes and I know what I like to see, which is not necessarily what everyone else wants to see. But here is a list of things that will immediately turn me off:

– Bad grammar, spelling, barely coherent and poorly constructed sentences.
– Hard to read, either due to clarity of the information presented or because of poor font/size of text/arrangement.
– Not having someone look it over for you. (doesn’t have to be a professional, just someone whom you trust to spot errors)
– Having an objective geared to an entirely different job (such as stating how you want a job in sales when applying for a HR position).
– Not listing the company, location, and dates of employment.
– Not listing educational level or degree obtained or sought.
– Not geared to the job you are applying for (for example, a technical position where you don’t list any computer skills)
– Adding personal information or commentary (for example, I really loved/hated this job/boss)
– Not providing a succinct description of what you did in your past positions.
-Not listing up-to-date contact information (for example, a working phone number)

That’s it. Everything else is just gravy. Some careers expect more from a resume, but most people only need to make sure that they follow basic resume advice and avoid the errors above. Seek professional help if you want or need to, but keep in mind that the best resume in the world still may not get you the job. Successful job hunting is not so straight forward. So good luck to you all out there, I’m right there with you.

16 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Anonymous :

    A recruitment consultant I spoke to during a recent job hunt advised me to add something personal about myself (e.g. hobbies, interests) to my resume- something I had deliberately excluded! Now, I think that putting that you like going to the cinema on your resume is a waste of time- surely no-one cares?!

    I’d be interested in the views of others though, so what’s the verdict: ‘Hobbies/interests’- Yes or No?

  • 2 HR Underling :

    Oh my Sweet Minion, when you need a good laugh I will send you some of the resumes I have gotten! I am not even slightly kidding when I say that last year I got a resume that was four pages long and accompanied by a slideshow on a disc that showed the applicants vacations and outdoor activities, complete with personalized music.

  • 3 HR Minion :

    Anon – The only reason I would care about your hobbies/interests is if it relates to the job you are applying for. I know people say you should add it because it is something personal but I never really pay attention to it. My vote is No.

    HR Underling – Wow, a slideshow? That’s way too personal for me. I think people need to calm down a little. There are more effective (and professional)ways to get noticed.

  • 4 Kerry :

    You are SOOOO right. People think the magic resume will get them the job. Really, being the right person for the job will get them the job. It’s not magic, and you can’t game it.

    Anonymous, you should not put “hobbies/interests” on your resume unless you have time-traveled here from the 1970s, when people still did that. Your hobbies often reveal information about your membership in a protected class (race, religion, disability status, etc.), and smart employers don’t want to know that at the resume stage. Your hobbies aren’t relevant to the job, and therefore we’re not allowed to consider them. That was bad advice–ignore it.

  • 5 HR Minion :

    Kerry – That was a really great point about the hobbies showing inclusion in a protected class! Thanks!

  • 6 HR Maven :

    Greetings friend! (I have a little shoutout to you on my blog – I can’t believe that you wrote about this too!)

    I am going to take a slightly different approach to this. We are hiring for a systems analyst. Have great candidates. One of our candidates has a great background and strong skills. AND one of his ‘hobbies’ is being part of an online community that solves complex math issues. (I am not kidding). This is highly appropriate and fits completely with the job.

    Another candidate (for our security position) had one of her hobbies as being part of an ethical hacking community. Totally relevant.

    So I am cautious of using blanket statements about hobbies. They very much can be useful and relevant.

  • 7 HR Minion :

    HR Maven – I agree, those hobbies are definitely a good idea to add. People need to go check out your post as well, it’s great!

  • 8 Dr. Smart :

    Are the requirements to be in HR to be a)a woman and b)obese? I kid you not every hospital I have interviewed with the HR workers meet those 2 requirements.

  • 9 HR Minion :

    Dr. “smart” – Wow. If that’s how you present yourself to HR you’re going to find yourself having some problems. Please take your particular brand of asshole somewhere else, thanks.

  • 10 Kerry :

    HRMaven–I would agree that hobbies can be on there if they’re relevant like that (although if I were doing that resume, I’d probably put that under “volunteer work,” to better highlight it. I’m thinking more of the one I saw recently, where the hobbies were “Bible study, needlepoint, and watching crime shows.” Sheesh!

  • 11 HR Minion :

    Kerry – Watching crime shows wouldn’t be a good add even if (or maybe especially because) you were looking for a job as a CSI investigator. Thanks!

  • 12 Anonymous :

    Well Kerry and Minion seculare hate mungar is the requirement to be in HR? Maybe that is the problem with the economy, liberal hate mungars decide who gets a job or no job?
    I’ll flush your advice and make sure I forward your blog to the secular hate mungars billboard page that will impress your sponsors too.

  • 13 HR Minion :

    Anon#2 – I think your comment is both odd, bitter, and pretty much makes my argument for me. I feel I will lose nothing by losing your readership.

  • 14 Amanda :

    Dr. Smart sounds like Dr. Dumb Ass. and changing his alias makes him more of a f#ck*ng idiot Go away jerk.

  • 15 Jason :

    wow, who’d a thunk straightforward resume advice would spark such heated vitriol! Minnie, methinks perhaps your conversion to the dark side may be complete!

    Srsly, good advice. The ad hominem attacks have no place in this discussion. You’ve been too generous with your time and thoughts to have to suffer other people’s ignorance.

    You’ll always have a fan in Chicago, you know. And as for th others I have a book recommendation.,.

  • 16 HR Minion :

    Jason – It was surprisingly hateful, wasn’t it? Thanks for the support, that matters more to me than any random jerk.

    Amanda – Thanks for the support and for telling him off for me! 🙂