Resumes: From the Bizarre to Impactful

With millions of people looking for jobs today, how do you make sure your resume captures the attention of employers and doesn't end up in the Deleted Items folder? CareerBuilder's study of 2,298 hiring managers nationwide provides real-life examples of resumes that stood out for the right - and wrong - reasons, and explores common pitfalls to avoid. 

When asked to share the most memorable and unusual (and humorous) applications that came across their desk, hiring managers gave the following examples:
  • Candidate called himself a genius and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
  • Candidate's cover letter talked about her family being in the mob.
  • Candidate applying for a management job listed "gator hunting" as a skill.
  • Candidate's resume included phishing as a hobby. 
  • Candidate specified that her resume was set up to be sung to the tune of "The Brady Bunch."
  • Candidate highlighted the fact that he was "Homecoming Prom Prince" in 1984.
  • Candidate claimed to be able to speak "Antartican" when applying for a job to work in Antarctica.
  • Candidate's resume had a photo of the applicant reclining in a hammock under the headline "Hi, I'm _____ and I'm looking for a job."
  • Candidate's resume was decorated with pink rabbits.
  • Candidate listed "to make dough" as the objective on the resume.
  • Candidate applying for an accounting job said he was "deetail-oriented" and spelled the company's name incorrectly.
  • Candidate's cover letter contained "LOL."
 
Examples of What Worked
  • Other candidates tried a creative approach, made a positive impression on the employer, and, in some cases, were ultimately hired:
  • Candidate sent his resume in the form of an oversized Rubik's Cube, where you had to push the tiles around to align the resume. He was hired. 
  • Candidate who had been a stay-at-home mom listed her skills as nursing, housekeeping, chef, teacher, biohazard cleanup, fight referee, taxi driver, secretary, tailor, personal shopping assistant and therapist. She was hired.
  • Candidate created a marketing brochure promoting herself as the best candidate and was hired.
  • Candidate listed accomplishments and lessons learned from each position. He gave examples of good customer service he provided as well as situations he wished he would have handled differently. He was hired.
  • Candidate applying for a food and beverage management position sent a resume in the form of a fine-dining menu and was hired. 
  • Candidate crafted his resume to look like Google search results for the "perfect candidate." Candidate ultimately wasn't hired, but was considered.
 

Building a Resume

Thinking of your resume as a three-layered pyramid will help you break down the complexity of your work history and simplify your resume content into a concise, comprehensive marketing message that will capture the attention of your next employer.

Layer 1 ‒ The Pyramid Pinnacle: Your Job Focus
The top layer of the pyramid is your career focus. Think of a focused resume as the opposite of a one-size-fits-all resume. Provide a single career objective. 
 
Layer 2 ‒ The Pyramid Midsection: Your Selling Points
Selling points are all the qualifications that make you a strong candidate for your particular career focus or objective. For example, selling points of a sales professional might be "new account generation" or "high-volume closer." 
 
Layer 3 ‒ The Pyramid Base: Your Accomplishments
Like a pyramid's base, your accomplishments support your selling points, which in turn support your focus. Quantifiable accomplishments that relate to bottom-line corporate objectives are more significant. If you express your accomplishments as benefits rather than as features, they will appeal more to your readers. An example of a feature: "Developed and implemented 24-hour pricing turnaround." An example of a benefit: "Increased sales closure rate by 35 percent by implementing 24-hour pricing turnaround."
 
‒ Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach
 
"One-in-five HR managers reported that they spend less than thirty seconds reviewing applications and around 40 percent spend less than one minute," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "It's a highly competitive job market, and you have to clearly demonstrate how your unique skills and experience are relevant and beneficial to that particular employer. We see more people using infographics, QR codes, and visual resumes to package their information in new and interesting ways."
 
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
When employers were asked what would make them automatically dismiss a candidate from consideration, they pointed to the following:
  • Resumes with typos - 61 percent
  • Resumes that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting - 41 percent
  • Resumes with an inappropriate e-mail address - 35 percent
  • Resumes that don't include a list of skills - 30 percent
  • Resumes that are more than two pages long - 22 percent
  • Resumes printed on decorative paper - 20 percent
  • Resumes that detail more tasks than results for previous positions - 16 percent
  • Resumes that include a photo - 13 percent
  • Resumes that have large blocks of text with little white space - 13 percent
 
Methodology
The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, nongovernment) ages 18 and over between May 14 and June 4, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). 
 
Related articles:
 
Source: PR Newswire / CareerBuilder

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