Posts Tagged ‘resume’

Yes, you’re marketing yourself in your job search. You’re the product you’re selling. But that doesn’t mean you should be a snake-oil salesperson who resorts to sneaky tactics. Cuz guess what – it’ll probably blow up in your face. And you won’t be too marketable if you’re headless.

Here are a few dirty tricks not to do in your job search:

  • Lie about your background. Just as it’s sleazy to misrepresent a product, if you’re not honest about your experience and education, it’ll probably come back to bite you in the ass. Remember the Dean at MIT who was fired for saying she had a doctorate when she didn’t? I think she’s currently working as a cashier in the food court.
  • Harass employers. Once, twice, three times are okay for an initial contact or to follow up. More than that, not so much. Irritating the hell out of people isn’t an effective job search strategy. And if you crouch in the bushes and wait to pounce on an employer in the parking lot, you will officially be known evermore as Psycho Stalker Job Seeker Guy. There are laws.
  • Fudge contacts. You don’t want to contact a possible lead and say, “Joe Schmeckle suggested I contact you” if, in fact, you just got Joe Schmeckle’s name off of LinkedIn and he’s never heard of you. Bad form.
  • Conduct an in-your-face job search. Don’t you just love those ads with huge glow-in-the-dark headlines that shriek at you with multiple exclamation points? Bet you don’t.  Neither do employers. Unless they’re over-the-top-squirt-water-out- of-a-big-fake-red-nose themselves, in which case maybe it’s an ideal match. Usually, though, even though it’s important to be enthusiastic, don’t overdo it. Not in your cover letter or resume, or in person. Employers will want to smack you.
  • Try to bully an employer into interviewing or hiring you. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, but I’ve heard stories….Just as it’s not kosher for a salesperson to ever try to intimidate a customer into buying their product, you don’t ever want to imply in any way that if you don’t get an interview, your Uncle Vito will come pay them a visit with your resume and a baseball bat. Of course, if Uncle Vito works for the company and can put in a good word for you with the hiring manager sans baseball bat, that’s another story.

Here is an excerpt from What Color is Your Straitjacket? A Pocket Guide to Getting and Keeping a Job Without Going Wacko, soon to be available as an e-book.

Resumes — The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous

Your resume needs to demonstrate your skills and how they can assist an organization in achieving their wet dreams. Here is a sample:

145 Fire Avenue, Underworld Village, TX


·    Branding
·    Speaking in tongues
·    Recruiting politicians
·    Creating and using torture devices
·    Stoking fires
·    Turning into a black pillar of smoke and killing people


·    Initiated red and black as a fashion statement
·    Generated fear in otherwise rational humans
·    Developed torture management system, resulting in 95% torture rate
·    Successfully bargained with former U.S. leaders to f*ck up the country


President, Washington, D.C.                            2000-2008
·    Almost singlehandedly flushed an entire nation down the toilet
·    Pretended to look for bad-ass weapons
·    Vacationed
·    Developed strategy for invading all countries starting with “I”
·    Successfully maintained focus on golf game during national crises
·    Delegated intellectually challenging tasks
·    Mangled the English language, causing linguists throughout the world
to cringe in horror
·    Waited for retroactive popularity to kick in

Senator, Washington, D.C.                            1947-1957
·    Created lists of thinking people and arrested them
·    Encouraged grownups to tattle on each other to get out of trouble
·    Caused massive unemployment among aforementioned thinking people
·    Threw liberals in jail


B.S. in Pitchfork Probing, University of Torture

You (hopefully) know a lot of what to do when you and your last job have parted ways. Network, volunteer, join groups, do a targeted search, blah blah blah. Here are some things NOT to do when you’re not working:

  • Stay in bed (alone) until 2:00 p.m. If you’re not alone, then by all means go for it. Well, maybe not every day. You wouldn’t have enough energy left to do a job search. But staying in bed half the day alone is kinda like drinking alone – it’s more depressing and dysfunctional than fun. You don’t have to get up at six a.m. if you’re not a morning person and you don’t have any early appointments that day, but before 10:00 is probably a good idea (can you guess I’m not a morning person??).
  • Watch TV in the middle of the day. It may be tempting to catch up on Jerry Springer and see whose life sucks more than yours, but that’s not a habit you want to get into.
  • Spend hours looking at online job boards and applying for listed job openings. Yes, it’s easy (well, relatively speaking). Yes, it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something when you actually apply for jobs that are listed. But you know where that usually gets you, don’t you? That’s right, you’ll be sucked into the Job Seeker Vortex of the Apocalypse. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Eat all day. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one.
  • Spend a lot of time rearranging your underwear drawer. You may think, “Oh good, now I have time to do all the pesky household stuff I never have time for.” By all means, clean the house and use the opportunity to catch up on some of that other stuff, but don’t use it to avoid job search activities. If you’re spending more time alphabetizing your toiletries than doing job search stuff, you’re in trouble.
  • Staying up late every night. This goes along with the first one, of course, cuz if you’re out drinking or just up watching Nick at Nite, it’ll be hard to get up at a reasonable time. I fell into this trap when I wasn’t working – at one point, I was going to bed at 3  a.m. and getting up at 1:00 in the afternoon. Needless to say, I didn’t get a hell of a lot done.
  • Spend most of your time hanging out with friends. I don’t mean you shouldn’t see your friends, because they’re very important. But don’t go to a Hitchcock film in the middle of the day with your buddy and call it networking.
  • Spend hours on one cover letter. Maybe the first one for a particular type of job may take longer, and you always want to target your cover letters and take time to make them as likely as possible to elicit responses (and of course proofread!), but there is such a thing as going overboard. Mildly obsessive is okay, pathological is not.
  • Spend hours every day fooling around with your resume. Yes, it’s important to tailor it to the job you’re targeting, and it always is a work in progress to a certain point, but again you can take it too far. Don’t pick at it like a scab ’til it bleeds all over your laptop.
  • Go to one networking group event after another that has absolutely nothing to do with you. I must have said this before, but I’ll say it again – although networking is the most important way to spend your job-search time, and it’s good to open up to new interests, it doesn’t pay to compulsively and gratuitously attend events on topics you could care less about. If you’re into God, guns and ammo, don’t join the Society For Atheist Tree-Huggers.

In my “Top Ten Items to Leave Off Your Resume” post, I included, well, items to leave off your resume. Here are some more:

  • Spelling and grammatical errors – yes, we know you’re an engineer and not a writer. Big whoop. It still won’t help you. Get someone who IS a good writer to proofread. Better yet, two or three someones.
  • Photos or graphics – even if you look like Brad Pitt, employers don’t want to see your picture on your resume unless you are, in fact, applying for an acting or modeling gig. If you’re not, they’ll just think you’re goofy. Same goes for images or symbols of any kind. Even if you’re a graphic artist – employers will want separate samples of your work, rather than artwork on the resume itself.
  • Objective – The worst ones are the totally noncommittal statements that are so general they say absolutely nothing. “Seeking a challenging position that allows me to use my skills.” What skills are those? Your skills at bullshit? Not that those skills don’t come in handy. Chances are, though, you’re not going for a job as a fortune-teller, so don’t expect employers to read your mind. Even if you get more specific, employers need to see more of an emphasis on what you can do for them, rather than what you want. Guess what? They don’t really care what you want. At least not before they know and love you. Don’t take it personally.
  • Lies – employers can expose them pretty damn easily. And it won’t be pretty.
  • Referring to yourself in the third person – Talk about goofy. It looks like either  a.  someone else wrote your entire resume, which doesn’t look too good,   b.  you have multiple-personality disorder, or c.  you have a Seinfeld fixation.
  • Trite, so-over phrases sure to make employers gag, such as:
    – “people person” – do people really still throw that one out into the
    – “results-oriented professional” – anyone can say that about
    – “organized” – ditto.
    – “excellent communication skills” – double ditto.
    – “team player” – unless you actually play for the Red Sox. But then,
    if you do I’m guessing you wouldn’t need a resume.
    – “quick learner and multitasker who thinks outside the box” – how
    many cliches can we toss into one bullet?

The main thing is – show, don’t tell. Give vivid, concrete examples of the above, rather than stating them like they’re the Gospel According to Saint Job Seeker.

I cautioned in an earlier post against spewing your resume. Beyond not spewing to any and every employer, you also don’t want to be the obedient little jobseeker and just trot out all your info online for the HR pod people. Trot, trot.

No, you want to make a list of places you’d give your big toe to work for, hunt around online to find the contact info for the manager/director of whatever department makes sense in terms of your field, hunt around some more to find info on the company’s goals, problems, etc., and then contact the aforementioned person to let them know how you, with your many superpowers, can help them banish the beast.

Notice I didn’t say send your resume to that person only if you see a job posted that you’re interested in. You actually have a better shot if there isn’t one. Yep, that’s what I said. If there is a job posted, everyone within a hundred miles will crawl out from under their rock to send their resume for that one job. But if you send the superpower letter for a possible opportunity that would be a fit, you can ask to set up an informational meeting to discuss the above further, without asking that person to interview you for a particular position.

Why would you want to bother, if there isn’t a job listed in which you’re interested? Well, there may very well be a job that became available ten minutes ago, that hasn’t been posted yet. Or someone is about to give notice next week. Or maybe the person who updates their website is sitting with his finger up his ass.

How do you find the manager’s name and other relevant company info? LinkedIn, baby. Do a search for the company. Also, Google the company name and the position you’re looking to connect to a person, and you can usually find it. Use your network (of course, you have one. Don’t you???) to see if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows what you need to know.

By the way, when I say “superpowers,” you know I don’t mean it literally, right? It’s much more effective to show a prospective employer how your experience and talents match what they need, rather than brag about how great you are. How great you are will come out anyway, but in a much more real way. Just like with sex, it usually works out better in the long run if you don’t fake it.

Here are some that come to mind – more in a later post….

1.  How many times you’ve been married…or divorced, or engaged, or dumped, or been on a really bad date…you get the idea. Anything related to your love life doesn’t belong on your resume.

2.  Your abilities as a contortionist. Unless, of course, you’re applying for jobs with the circus, or are interested in becoming a porn star. Otherwise, bizarro skills that have nothing whatsoever to do with the jobs you’re targeting have no business on your resume.

3.  God-related activities. If you’re not applying for a god-related position (i.e., minister, mausoleum tour guide, Pope-in-training), don’t include your religious activities on your resume. Too much potential for discrimination.

4.  High-school graduation dates. Especially if you graduated when Barry Manilow was popular.  Generally, it’s not a good idea to invite age discrimination. Same goes for dates of college graduation and, of course, your actual date of birth, for the same reason.

5.  Elementary school info. Nobody cares.

6.  Your ethnicity. I sincerely hope you already knew that, but if you didn’t, there it is.

7.  Hobbies. Again, nobody cares.

8.  Volunteer work for potentially controversial organizations, especially ones that label you a racist and/or sexist asshole. So if you’re the Vice President of the Society for White Male Supremacists With Hair, keep it to yourself.

9.  Jobs you had when you were jailbait. No one cares about your camp counselor experience at Lake Winnesprocket when you were 15. And if you were 15 when Jimmy Carter was President, that goes double for you.

10. “References will be furnished upon request.” Of course they will. If an employer requests references and you tell her to go screw herself, a job offer won’t likely be forthcoming.

In my job, I see many resumes from desperate job seekers who seem to think the resume spew approach will land them interviews, in much the same way lottery-players think that, even though the odds of their winning are something like one in 10,000, they actually have a shot.

In case you have no idea what the resume spew approach is, it’s the dubious method of job search that consists of spewing your resume out all over the place, to any job you think you may have a chance in hell at.

Usually the resume spew doesn’t include a resume that emphasizes the skills and experience that match what the employer’s looking for, or a cover letter targeted to the specific employer(s) you’re sending it to, telling them how you can help them solve their problems with your talents and experience, much less who they are and why you’re interested in them, as opposed to the other 99 companies to which you spewed your resume. Mostly it doesn’t even reflect jobs or companies that are even remotely a match with your background.

Guess what? The spew doesn’t work. Employers want to know why you’re interested in them, and how you can help them. They don’t want to know that you just found them on the first page of because their company name starts with “A,” and that you couldn’t give a crap about them specifically. Giving a crap is one of the main things employers look for (more about that in a later post). When you spew, you just piss employers off. Not exactly your goal when you’re looking for a job.

There is a time and place for whining. Like if you’re the siren on the roof of an ambulance when it’s rushing to the hospital with some shmuck who just got bonked on the head with one of those blue thingys that occasionally fall out of airplane toilets.

The time and place for whining is not in a job interview.  It’s not when you’re networking with people who may possibly know someone who knows someone who may provide a job lead or some helpful information. It’s not at your cousin’s 4th of July barbecue when your Aunt Melody with the hairy armpits asks you how your job search is going. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there are few situations in which whining isn’t frowned on, and job search whining is one of the worst.

What exactly constitutes job search whining? Well, I’ll tell you. Here are some of the most whiny job search phrases, guaranteed to make someone want to smack you:

  • There are no jobs out there for me.
  • No one will hire me – I’m too old.
  • No one will hire me – I’m too young.
  • Nobody’s hiring.
  • You have to know someone to get a job – it’s not fair.

Now, I know the job market is still tight, though it is starting to come back.  And yes, age discrimination does exist, and employers want people who have experience. And “knowing someone,” otherwise known as networking, is more likely to work as a job search strategy than just spitting resumes indiscriminately out into the black void. Even during a recession, though, there are available jobs; people do get hired every day. And guess who the ones being hired are? The people who aren’t whining.