Hiring managers typically have funny stories about bizarre resumes that have landed on their desks. These glitter-adorned letters with daring font choices come from well-intentioned yet misguided job candidates looking to set themselves apart from the rest of the pile. It works, but in the wrong way. Instead of being considered for the job based upon talent and skill, the candidate is laughed off and the resume ends up tacked to a corkboard for all to see when they need a three o’clock pick-me-up.
It’s hard to make a resume exciting. Unless you’re looking to fill an unexpectedly vacant lion taming position, you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of resumes that are, from an objective standpoint, boring. But is a boring resume necessarily the product of a boring mind?
The real question: Are resumes relevant anymore?
It’s 2016 and, according to The Washington Post, over 1 billion people have their personal lives uploaded to Facebook. Sure, there are privacy settings, but for the most part it’s fairly easy to track people down via social media and explore their various niche interests. Once you have the candidate’s name, you can see his professional history on Linkedin, read his up-to-the-minute thoughts on Twitter, see how many cats he owns on Instagram and read about his recent haircut experience on Yelp. With all that information so readily available, why pay any attention to his meticulously typed curriculum vitae?
In one sense, the resume is dead – it can no longer be the forward scout of hopeful job candidates. But in another way, the resume is alive as it ever was. As a professional, carefully crafted representation of the candidate, it’s more relevant than ever. At the end of the day, most of the candidate’s personal information is irrelevant to the job – and you can usually intuit everything you need during the in-person interview. The resume’s job is to show you that the candidate paid attention to the job listing, knows how to succinctly represent his or her professional experience and provides most of the relevant talking points for the interview.
So what should you look for?
A boring resume is one that doesn’t answer any questions. It’s so much wasted paper because it’s irrelevant to the hiring process. An exciting resume, on the other hand, makes you want to meet the person who wrote it. It represents the type of candidate you want to invest in and nurture within the company.
- Quantifiable information: As you read through resumes, look for numbers. U.S. News and World Report recommended that job seekers use figures to really spell out the impact they’ve made in previous positions. This is something to look for, as it shows the candidate is aware of how their job impacts the company as a whole.
- Awards: Candidates with awards or other accomplishments listed on their resumes are worth remembering. Moz suggested making a special note of this section, especially if the candidate has earned grants or scholarships. Such achievements mean people have invested money in the candidate, which is usually a good sign.
- The summary: When you’re bombarded with resumes, read the summaries carefully rather than skim the entire sheet. Skimming won’t do you much good, but reading the one or two sentence summaries at the top of each page will help you narrow the search. If the candidate’s summary doesn’t match what you’re looking for, chances are good that you’ll find the rest of the page quite boring.
- Economy of words: As you narrow down the list of potential interviewees, pay attention to the language each resume employs. Time magazine has reported on the importance of using active, concise language in resume writing. Think of it this way: Who will be the more exciting candidate? The one who can explain his role in a few pleasant sentences, or the one who rambles on to a second and third page?
Keep these points in mind as you sift through that stack of resumes. Picture the candidate who would excite you the most, and imagine what that resume looks like. The boring ones will soon fall to the wayside.
Have you ever come across a bizarre or unorthodox resume? Tell us about it by tweeting @MSIGTS.