resume weirdness, #271

Y’all, if your work experience doesn’t start until the second page of your resume*, this is a problem.

Employers care what you’ve done. That’s your work experience. All that other stuff taking up tons of real estate is (a) way less important  and (b) really, really, really not something that should be pushing your work experience off the first page.

(Not to mention which, if your work experience doesn’t start until your second page, I can almost guarantee that your resume is more than two pages, which is way too long.)

Cut.

* Or even if it doesn’t start until the bottom of your first page. If your work experience starts any later than the middle of your first page, you’re guilty and I sentence you to an evening spent cutting as well.

{ 232 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie

    Uh, so what was on the first page? Just a lot of educational credentials? Even with a PhD, I’m scratching my head at what could take up a page for education.

    1. JessA

      Maybe a section on every class they’ve ever taken in college? I honestly can’t even imagine.

      1. Sascha

        I got one of those before. Every college class and every conference session ever attended. It was 19 pages long. For an entry level tech support position.

        1. Jazzy Red

          I’m laughing at this one. I had a friend, long ago, whose resume was 5 pages long and included her high school part-time jobs. Even I knew that wasn’t the way to do it.

          1. Liz in a Library

            We hired someone once (against my will; there were numerous other red flags) whose resume was 11 pages. It was not an academic CV.

            She was terrible. Not because of that, but I can’t help connecting them in my head.

        2. Sarah

          I wonder if they were coming out of a federal job. My federal resume is eight pages long, and I have three seasons of experience and a bachelors degree. . Yes, I realize this is insane, but when they will assume you cannot drive if you don’t give them your driver’s license number, its necessary. Even so, work experience starts on the first page.

      2. Xay

        I’ve seen a few of those from new master’s graduates – 4 pages on classes they took and papers they wrote and less than half a page on their internships and assistantships.

    2. NavyLT

      Mission statement? Multi-paragraph biography? List of interests, culminating in “enjoys long walks on the beach”?

    3. Laura

      Functional resume/claimed skills? Objective statement. Education with bullet points for classes? (Had one of those. Four bullet points, each 2-3 lines, detailing classes with relevant experience. At least this student had no relevant work experience, so I think they were fishing for that feel.)

      Accidentally c&p’ed Grandma’s floating pudding recipe?

      1. Artemesia

        I’d have preferred a good floating pudding recipe to much of what I saw on resumes.

        1. Laura

          I know! (I have one somewhere, via my mother, via the neighbor who was my honorary grandmother. Never did put it on a resume though!)

    4. KC

      I like having a “skills” section at the top, with relevant skills listed (technical skills or specific software skills, etc.). I use 2 columns and bullets, so it’s short and takes about 1/4 of my first page, then my experience section starts. I could imagine if someone had a MASSIVE header and chose to do an objective and skills section in paragraph form first, it could get over-long.

        1. Career Counselorette

          What? “Core competencies” sounds like 80’s corporate manual, like something you would read in an antiquated resume guide.

          1. HM in Atlanta

            It’s making a comeback (the “competencies” lingo). Of course, so rarely do actually see anyone able to truly define the competency, so they don’t seem all that helpful.

          2. Sascha

            Sounds like that, too! Core competencies is very big in education, I think. Funding is awarded based on achieving them, etc etc. I’m on the IT side so I don’t know much about them but I hear the word thrown around a lot.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s a hideous term that has made a huge comeback in the last several years. But there is no defense for having this kind of jargon on your resume and it must be removed.

          1. hildi

            Curious: Is it the term you think is hideous or the entire concept of competencies? My agency just switched everyone’s performance reports to competency based; I was tasked to provide training on competency-based recruitment and I am sure that competency-based training is on the way soon. Seems like just another HR/Management fad…?

          2. Artemesia

            ‘Competency’ and ‘core competency’ remind me of ‘administrate’ as in ‘I administrated the teapot reclamation department’ or ‘doctorial degree’. Shudder. I am reviewing journal articles at the moment and the amount of pompous jargon that hides very very simple ideas remains astounding.

        3. James M

          My “core competencies”:
          • heart beating … yup
          • lungs working … yup
          • liver … … needs improvement

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      I guess things like contact details, education and qualifications, personal profile, skills and technical knowledge, professional memberships and so on.

    6. stellanor

      I recently read a resume from someone with a PhD, and the first page was all academic accomplishments and publications. Which is very impressive but I don’t care about it because it’s not relevant to the job I’m hiring for.

      1. Sigrid

        As someone with a PhD and who switched from academia to the corporate world (well, sort of — I’m in healthcare now, it’s a weird bastard hybrid of the two), it was actually very difficult to write a non-academic resume, because everything I had ever been taught about resumes and ‘selling oneself’ was all directed towards academia, and everyone I knew was in academia. Trying to learn how to write a ‘normal’ resume was actually how I found this blog!

        1. stellanor

          Yeah, it’s tough. I came out of academia as well so I spent a year where all my cover letters explained why all my jobs lasted 3 months — because I was employed on a quarter to quarter basis by my department at the university, and they liked me enough to rehire me consistently. It’s a difficult transition.

          I actually had someone apply with a terrible resume (very pretty but it was a single page in 18-point type and had almost no info about their qualifications) and it turned out to be a friend of a current employee. I suggested current employee ask the friend to try again with a better description of their past experience. :/

      2. Artemesia

        In Academia the resume would in fact list work first and then publications towards the last but the thing would go on for pages. In academia they don’t really use resumes, but rather vitae which have their own format and the longer the better (as that means more grants won, articles and books published and invited presentations given.) It is quite a task to turn that into something for a job that requires a two page resume and a completely different mind set.

  2. Teacher Recruiter

    I saw a resume last week that was 7 pages. It had words in cartoon bubbles (in color), lots of pictures, and spent one page talking about how the candidate would be breaking all the rules on the resume. It also detailed lots of personal information (why they were in a certain family situation, when they were born, the date they came out, etc.). It was the best worst thing I’d ever seen.

    1. Stephanie

      “Came out” as in homosexual came out? *brain explodes* (To clarify, not at the homosexuality, just at the WTFery of including that on a resume.)

      For those who do resume screening, do y’all tell people about their crazy resumes and how their resumes might be hurting them? Or just leave it?

      1. Anonypants

        We should make a list of the weirdest stuff we’ve seen on resumes/LI profiles.

        1. Beth

          Weirdest thing I’ve ever seen … where the Employer should have been “Confidential” where the job title should have been “Cannot disclose.”

          1. Cajun2Core

            Two things come to mind on this one….
            1. A top secret government job
            2. A job in the porn industry.

            1. AMT

              #1 could have just been an Arby’s gig that the applicant didn’t want on there. “Yep, top secret. $7.15 an hour and I had to supply my own broom. You know, to fight ninjas in an abandoned warehouse.”

              1. Cajun2Core

                Yea, but it says “Should have been…” which to me says that she did disclose the job title and the employer but should not have.

                1. littlemoose

                  That’s even weirder. This job was supposedly top secret but you’re going to tell me all about it anyway? Now you don’t just look like a nutter, you look like a nutter with poor judgment.

              1. KarenT

                It makes me giggle that not only would someone include anything related to Homecoming on their resume, but would also include it when it sounds like she didn’t win…

        2. Jamie S

          One of the guy’s previous jobs was “Cut Down Trees.” Underneath that was a bullet list of the types of trees he had cut down. Aspen, pine, oak, etc.

          The job opening was for a software tester.

                1. Pennalynn Lott

                  Turanga Leela – The joke is that there is an accounting software package called Peachtree.

          1. Loose Seal

            I have to say, I love the listing of the specific trees he was qualified to cut. I know nothing about tree-cutting but I would be thrilled to know he wasn’t a one-trick-pony. I mean, we all have to keep up our skills and add new ones, right?

            1. Turanga Leela

              Maybe it requires different skills to cut down different types of trees? I’m out of my depth here. I’m also cracking up at my desk.

                1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.

                  …yes.
                  Isn’t it “Hank’s a lumberjack…” Or is this one of the weird things Dale says multiple times?

                2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.

                  Oh.. is this a legitimate song? I know this from King of the Hill

          2. Sigrid

            If he regularly cut down eucalyptus trees I’d be impressed; they’re notoriously difficult to remove — but I still wouldn’t hire him as a software tester!

        3. RJ

          I shared this on Alison’s facebook post already. Recently I saw a resume where the first “work” entry was “unemployed: seeking work” and one of the bullets underneath was “donated plasma.”

          1. AMT

            Skills:

            – Sitting
            – Waiting
            – Arm-holding-out
            – Mild pain tolerance
            – Check-getting
            – Free crackers-eating

          2. Stephanie

            Accomplishments:
            -Attended gym five times a week
            -Watched both House of Cards seasons in less than two weeks.
            -Reduced cover letter composition time to 20 minutes.

        4. AnotherAlison

          I interviewed a guy who had chairing a nonprofit listed on his resume. His work experience was in engineering, so this didn’t really fit and we asked him about what that entailed. Turns out it was a family charity in honor of his son who died as a teenager in a motorcycle accident. Having the item on the resume wasn’t so weird, but it led to a very long, emotional conversation that we weren’t prepared for.

          1. Anonypants

            reminds me of something I saw on a LinkedIn profile. Guy listed, under work experience, belonging to a support group for grieving parents after his daughter committed suicide due to some drug. It’s a sad story, and I feel for him and really all parents who go through that, and it was great to see how the group helped him cope. I can also see how he might’ve thought it was an important part of his identity. But how the hell was it work experience? He wasn’t even on the board, just a member.

            I just really wonder why people want prospective employers to know about that stuff so early in the game. It doesn’t really help their chances, it just makes things unnecessarily awkward.

          1. Turanga Leela

            Did the job have anything to do with childbirth and/or vaginas? I’m hoping against hope…

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I got one in a overly fancy, hard-to-read, italics-like font yesterday and seriously considered tipping the person off about what a bad idea this was, but didn’t.

        1. Cajun2Core

          You really should. I know I have received some bad advice in my life about my resume and someone probably told her it was a good thing to do.

          I was once told that your resume should be one page per 5 years of experience. For me that would be 4 pages which I have learned is entirely too long.

      3. Elysian

        When I read “the date they came out” next to “when they were born” I thought came out referred to a really complex birth story. I’m not sure whether your interpretation or mine is more resume-appropriate.

      4. AMT

        I was thinking “coming out” = debutante ball. Either way, absolutely inappropriate.

      1. HM in Atlanta

        I just searched for resumes on Pinterest. Oh my! It was frightening how many people seem to love the resume with a picture of themselves as the watermark.

        1. littlemoose

          Oh, no. No no no.
          That also sounds vaguely creepy, like, “watch a giant watermark picture of me stare at you while you read my resume.”

        1. CAA

          I used to get those when I worked for a digital agency. The Creative Director and I had an agreement where if I got a resume that had more than one color besides black, I’d send it to him and if he got one that was all text, he’d send it to me (SW Dev Director).

          1. LeeshaJoy

            Sorry, but the use of “tag clouds” for the Skills section killed it for me.

        2. Cajun2Core

          I also have to add that many of these are either non-US resumes or they are for graphic design jobs (or both). I think that may explain some of them.

          1. Jen RO

            For what it’s worth, those resumes would look weird as hell in many countries outside the US too.

    2. Adam

      Well if a resume ever screamed “Look at me!” it’s certainly that one. Obviously it was memorable, but did you follow up with the person in any way?

    3. Sascha

      Anyone who describes themselves as “rule breaker” sends up red flags immediately!

      1. Anon Accountant

        I can’t imagine a much faster way to get a resume thrown out than this.

        1. Anna

          It sounds like a more up-to-date way to say “I think outside the box!” “I’m a rule breaker! I don’t follow the pack! I think outside the box! Except when it comes to clichés…”

    4. Audiophile

      There are no words. Breaking some rules but breaking all the rules, yeah probably not a great idea.

      Can someone get started on a manual, “How to lose a job, before you’ve even started?”

    5. Sunflower

      Sometimes I wonder if these resumes are the product of people with graphic design skills that are struggling to get employed. In college I waitressed with a graphic design major who was still waitresing after a year of trying to get a job after graduation. So she started a website/company where she redoes resumes to look pretty. They are visually great to look at but reading over them, it’s difficult because the page doesn’t flow as a regular resume does and your eyes have to scan a few different places to find what you’re looking for. Plus bubbles and colors.

      1. AMT

        I hate the idea of graphic design that some people seem to have. Graphic design doesn’t mean “pretty pictures, plus I squeezed the information somewhere in there.” It means getting information across in a clear way that also happens to be aesthetically pleasing. I’ve seen a million of those “top ten coolest resumes”-type blog posts and most of them didn’t come close to being appropriate for *any* job, even that of a graphic designer. Too much fluff, not enough substance.

        1. Stephanie

          Plus, isn’t that what a separate portfolio is supposed to accomplish? That can be your vehicle for showing mastery of InDesign and Photoshop.

          Those “ten coolest resumes” samples always look cool, but I more often than not look at them like “Neat, it’s on a chocolate bar, but I still have no clue where this person worked or what they’ve accomplished.”

    6. Nanc

      Ah, you were the recipient of the Infographic resume! A hot new trend from . . . who knows?

  3. Interviewer

    I got a 2-page resume once from a stay-at-home mother. She listed the kids’ activities and a family move to a neighboring state as part of her work experience.

    1. orange roll

      My favorite is SAHMs titling themselves “CEO of the Jones Family” or “Founding Member and Managing Partner of the Jones Family.” Bleh. If you’re a SAHM, just own it — don’t make it look like a flipping joke with ridiculous titles. It diminishes the hard work of such a position.

      1. Interviewer

        For the section with bullet points about the move, she had added the title “Family Logistics Manager.” (cringe)

        1. Artemesia

          As someone who has been briefly a SAHM and who spent most of her 45 years in the workforce as a WOHM, I am very appreciative of the work managing a family takes, but stunned that anyone thinks listing these family logistics as ‘work experience.’ I am the family travel agent and have been arranging complex travel for the last 35 years including organizing rentals abroad back before the internet. I would never have listed this as work experience.

          If I were applying for a travel related job, I would talk about it in the cover letter. Everyone moves. Managing a family move is a real PITA and requires some skills to do well — but ‘work experience’? SAHMs need to build job credibility with real organizational experience; there is a lot of that to be had in volunteer work. Many women I have known made transitions into the job world that way; I know several people who became development officers, event planners, trainers etc as a result of their volunteer work and connections.

      2. Career Counselorette

        I never understand this logic. It’s like, I don’t even have managerial aspirations at work, why the hell would I want to be a CEO of my freaking family?

      3. Kelly O

        So, can I list a second job as mom?

        Does navigating Mr. O’s occasional guy-moodiness (which is clearly NOT moodiness, naturally) allow me to put part-time psychologist on mine?

        CFO? Does planning a trip to the pool qualify as project management?

        I need to seriously revamp my resume.

        wink wink, nudge nudge

        1. fposte

          I think the pool experience means you get to list yourself as a member of a Wet Team.

      4. AnotherAlison

        I’d like to see someone who has been divorced and remarried spin that as M&A experience.

      5. Stephanie

        *groan*

        Titles like that are eyeroll-inducing because lots of working mothers (or just people in general) have to do things like maintain budgets, schedule doctors appointments, and plan moves. Not to diminish SAMHs (because I know for all but the really well-off, it might not be much of a choice), it just sounds naive to equate a household budget with a large company’s budget. I agree just to own being a SAHM.

        1. Cat

          Yeah, I’ve never gotten this. This person knows that we all have to do things like move sometimes, right?

      6. Anonypants

        +1

        Seriously, cutesy stuff like that makes me cringe. I’m not saying being a SAHM isn’t a job. Being a parent is hard work, and being a stay-at-home parent is no picnic. And it can be very rewarding. It is not, however, “work experience,” and there are very few skills – if any – that can translate to viable job skills that’ll make you a competitive candidate. There’s a slight chance that clever fluff will resonate with a hiring manager with a whimsical outlook on hiring strategy, but you’re better off taking a class to update your skills.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Honestly. . .I think this happens with many applicants, not just SAHMs or people out of the workforce. People aren’t necessarily being cutesy, but they do inappropriately play up their skills, in some cases without realizing how far from the needed experience their actual experience was.

          An executive/admin assistant “reporting to the president” of a 3-person company is a completely different job than “reporting to the president” of a division of an F500 company. Not that the person can’t learn, but sometimes you interview people who are so stubbornly determined to spin their experience, it feels like they’re not acknowledging the difference.

    2. BRR

      My former VP’s wife did that. “Personal assistant to VP of spouts at chocolate teapots” Listed her duties as purchasing and maintaining the vp’s wardrobe, arranging transportation for the vp, and something about making sure he kept a nutritious diet.

      She forgot her duty of posting selfies on facebook since her husband made a ton of money.

      1. Crow T. Robot

        I don’t want to get into a whole thing about SAHMs and wifery in general, but the thought of calling yourself your husband’s “personal assistant” makes me shudder.

        1. manybellsdown

          Like, we joke that kind of is my job right now, since I schedule literally every non-work appointment for the entire family. My Google calendar is all the colors of the rainbow.

          But I don’t put it on my resume because, ew. It’s a lot different to forget to take one of the kids to the dentist Tuesday than it is to forget to schedule your boss’ business trip.

      2. AVP

        I had a “must-hire” (friend of the CEO) once who did that – listed her job for 10 years as her boyfriend’s assistant, without mentioning that it was her boyfriend. He was a painter and some of the stuff she did was real work – buying supplies, stretching canvas. But I got suspicious when it came to the cooking and cleaning section, and checked with the CEO who was like “oh yeah of course she does that stuff they live together.”

        Of course we hired her anyway >:(

        1. BRR

          Yeah her profile didn’t list it was her husband. So the entire thing was incredibly weird. To add on to it, she did this for his past 3 jobs, just changed who she was an assistant to. Was able to come up with different duties as well.

  4. Angela S.

    In the attempt to keep the resume in 2 pages, I’ve got quite a number of resumes recently with font sizes less than 8. That’s equally bad, I think.

    1. sapphire

      I’ve heard that two pages is OK, but I’ve also heard a lot of “if it’s more than one page, I toss it immediately.”

      Multiple pages for the CV is great, but for my personal resume, if I can’t fit it on one page, it’s gone.

  5. orange roll

    Do people even try to make 1 page resumes anymore?! With each new position, I try very hard to streamline and condense bullets from old positions so I can fit everything on 1 page (with normal-sized font). Seems like that’s passe these days! I’m 3 jobs deep with 2 degrees and volunteer gigs, and I’ve managed to make it work.

    1. BRR

      In grad school when we were all job hunting my classmate said, “There’s no way I can fit everything on one page.” At the time, she has two internships and a graduate assistantship, guess who doesn’t have a job yet?

    2. Crow T. Robot

      I have a one page resume. I’m four years out of college with three relevant work positions and lots of volunteer work, plus one not relevant piece of work experience that I keep on there so it doesn’t look like I wasn’t working for a year and a half (yay, underemployment!). If I put every. single. thing. I’ve done since college on my resume, it comes out to more than a page. Which is why I pick and choose what I have on there based on the job I’m applying to. People who have more than one page and are applying to an entry level job are not tailoring their resume. They think it’s necessary to have everything you’ve ever done on there, which is just not true.

    3. Stephanie

      Mine’s one page (admittedly, I’m pretty early in my career). If I list every job, internship, or volunteer gig I’ve had since freshman year of college, I’d exceed one page, but I realize that a lot of that stuff is superfluous or too old to be relevant. I think one-page resumes are pretty common for people in the early stages of their career.

    4. AVP

      I’ve been out of college for 8 years and had a handful of jobs, but I do feel pretty committed to the one-page resume. Mostly because I hate reading other people’s longer ones, and I’m always editing and tightening them in my head.

    5. Jubilance

      I’ve just allowed myself to go to 2 pages, and I’ve been working for 8 years. For the longest time I didn’t think I had enough experience/accomplishments to go to 2 pages.

      1. Kay

        I also just recently allowed myself to go to two pages, and most of that is based in Alison’s advice to talk about accomplishments rather than duties. When I start describing various accomplishments instead of “filing, answering phones, etc” it made things a bit longer, but I feel like it’s a better document.

        1. CC

          The opposite happened to me… I had a 2-page resume (well, more like 1.5 pages with a bit of padding to fill in the bottom of the 2nd page) and when I rewrote it to talk about accomplishments rather than duties, it shrank. So, I dropped the padding and now have a 1-page resume. I think it’s a much better document.

    6. MaryMary

      Last time I was job hunting, two years ago, I had a one page resume for ten years of job experience. However, I’d been with the same company the entire time, although I’d moved through several roles (with progressively more responsibilities) and transferred divisions.

    7. Student

      I think two pages are fine, as long as page 1 has all of the most important items.

      I work jobs that are not self-explanatory, with job titles that are extremely vague and all-encompassing. I have difficulty conveying the technical sub-specialty skills that I have without using up some resume page real-estate. The technical sub-specialty skills are the major thing that employers in this field want to know you have experience with.

      I try to ease the burden on the reader by listing out the relevant tech skills at the top of the resume, but if they want context to judge the depth of my experience, they’ll have to flip the page over and read a bit. I feel bad for going 2 pages, but then I look at the guys handing out 17-page CVs for the same job and I feel better about my choices.

    8. Graciosa

      Mine was one page until I was more than a decade into my career (I think 12-15 years actually) when I finally graduated to two pages. Now I just cut achievements from older positions (leaving only basic job info) if I need room for more current stuff up front.

      I’m trying to imagine what recent graduate has achieved so much professionally that it can’t be condensed. Even a writer listing “Nobel Prize for Literature, 2XXX” and “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2XXX” before graduation should be able to add those two lines and keep it under a page.

    9. Diet Coke Addict

      We recently saw a 3-page resume at work, where the work experience didn’t start until 3/4 down the first page and covered a whopping…..6 years. They included every 3-month stint at a pizza place, 5 months at a deli, etc., and misspelled a ton of stuff.

    10. Ezri

      Heh, I’m finally out of college, and I view getting a new job as an opportunity to punt some of the pointless fluff off my resume (courtesy of my school career department). I’m just happy my past employment section actually has some substance. :3

      1. Stephanie

        Ha, I agree. I felt really good to take the retail work off my resume once I graduated. Not to minimize it (that was definitely one of the harder jobs I’ve worked), but it was hard making an entry-level clerk position at Foley’s (now Macy’s) sound more substantial than it was.

  6. Kate

    I got one once that was 4 pages. The person dropped it off at my company and then asked me to photocopy it because it was her only copy. It was half typed and half handwritten.

    She went on to detail how she had lost her child for neglect and then had worked at a strip club (as a waitress – not a stripper – she “wasn’t that type of girl”). Also she had never finished high school because she was too lazy to go to class but was more motivated now and wanted to work. Her whole life story in a letter form resume.

    I felt bad because obviously she had some issues and very little education but no way could we hire her.

    1. Elysian

      This is why the Internet is a good thing. Before Google, no one would ever know that such a resume was wrong. My hope is that after being unemployed long enough, she finds her way to Google and puts together a resume that looks like a resume, at least. At least there’s the Internet.

  7. Steve

    My first glance at the title of the post made me think Alison was giving us permission to resume (carry on with our) weirdness. Damn it, I thought I had written permission for the rest of the afternoon.

      1. littlemoose

        If all other forms of weirdness are banned, then how can we ask for advice when our coworkers are casting evil curses on us?

  8. Kelly O

    I’ve been working for 15+ years and I still sometimes have a hard time reminding myself it’s okay to have two pages. (Especially considering the unfortunate “job-hop” phase of 2007-2008 :( )

  9. College Career Counselor

    I’ve got a 2+ page resume, which is okay in higher education administration (for the other extreme, I once worked for someone who had a SIXTY page c.v.), but I’ve also had multiple jobs with a lot of duties. I’ve also been working in my field for over 20 years, but I wouldn’t go over that limit, no matter how many jobs I’d had.

    Could I make this a flat two pages, if pressed? Yep. Most of us can, but we haaaaaate leaving stuff out for fear we sell ourselves short. Or, in the case of the undergraduate 1st year student who came to me with a four-page resume, we are afraid of “not getting credit” for what we’ve done. I eventually got her to see the wisdom of cutting it down (they’re not seeing how awesome you are–they are using this as a reason not interview you), but it took awhile.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I can’t speak to academia, but you must promise me that if you leave that field, you will cut it down to a max of two. Otherwise it really will hurt you!

  10. MR

    I turn 31 on Friday, been in management positions since my sophomore year of college, and I only have a one page resume.

    I honestly can’t picture a scenario where I would ever need to go to a second page for the rest of my career.

  11. Emily, admin extraordinaire

    When I worked in HR for a local movie theater chain we got a resume that was so awesomely bad that we made sure to scan it for future reference (mainly to remind ourselves that it could always be much worse). I so wish I still had access to the file, because I’m sure it was worse than I remember. It was 4 pages, landscape, with a watermark of an early-90’s-era clip art hummingbird. It went on and on about how he was an “ideas man,” who could come into any organization and make it better, if we would just create a position for him– or, barring that, we could give him an entry level position and he guaranteed he’d become a manager in a matter of months. It also mentioned several times that he was proficient in WordPerfect (this was in 2009) and using clip art and graphics in documents. His actual job experience was something like dish washing or custodial. Of course, this resume was delivered in person, and he followed up in person at least twice before our HR director finally managed to get rid of him. I felt rather sorry for him, as he was obviously from another country and had been fed lies about how to get a job and taken worthless computer classes in outdated technology (and this is from someone who LOVES WordPerfect and uses it at every opportunity, but I know it’s not a very marketable skill). But the resume was so, so, bad that I couldn’t help laughing at it.

    1. Simonthegrey

      I cringed the whole way through that. Thank you for sharing – awesome and horrible at once.

  12. AndersonDarling

    If I can get in the running for resume weirdness #272… I was forwarded a resume with the mission statement:

    “To spread the mission of my [insert religion] faith.”
    (I didn’t want to pick on a religion, so I left it blank)

    It was for an administrative assistant position at a non-religious institution. I stared at the resume for 10 minutes. I didn’t want to forward it onto our HR department for consideration because I was too embarrassed.

    1. Stephanie

      I’ve heard of grad school admissions officers lending credence to LDS Missions, but I’d be hesitant to phrase it like that. I read a memoir of a Viagra salesman a while back (called Hard Sell, heh) that mentioned that Pfizer liked to hire the “Three Ms” for its salespeople: Mormons, military, and a third one that escapes me.

      But I’d be hesitant to list anything like that hair because religious missions are such a minefield.

      1. hildi

        “….that Pfizer liked to hire the “Three Ms” for its salespeople: Mormons, military, and a third one that escapes me.”

        Do you remember why they liked those groups? That sounds fascinating and I’d love to know the reason why.

        1. Stephanie

          It’s been years since I read the book, but from what I recall it was that Pfizer wanted a squeaky-clean image for its salespeople (which both those groups usually fulfilled) and that both groups were used to doing cold sales calls (missions for the LDS folks, recruiting for the military folks).

        2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

          Well, when you’ve gone on a Mormon mission, you’re very comfortable with approaching complete strangers and trying to get them interested in something, so I can see why they’d want to hire Mormons for sales. Lots of pest-control and security companies like to hire Mormons, too, for similar reasons. Even if you didn’t serve a mission (I didn’t), Mormons are generally known for being honest, hard-working, and having good leadership skills.

          But yeah, if you mention a mission, you don’t do it like that. That’s ridiculous.

          1. the gold digger

            The State Dept likes Mormons who have done a mission overseas. (I have heard.) Not so sure they would care so much about someone who has tried to convert Lutherans in Iowa.

      2. BRR

        EvilHRLady just did a post about religion and resumes, I think she wrote in the comment section about mission work

    2. Anonylicious

      Sounds like they took the phrase “mission statement” a little too literally.

  13. Boo

    I keep getting CVs with duckface selfies. Why on earth would anyone think this is a good idea?

    1. James M

      Imagine if you will… in another time,… another place,… or possibly, even another set of pajamas… a society… whose only means of communication… is through digital photographs of protruding lips.

    1. Snapple

      Ugh sorry! I realize what she means now. I thought she was using some regional slang!

  14. holly

    received resume through online system. perhaps the system caused a problem, but the resume had bright yellow letters on a white background. could not read.

  15. Phyllis

    Is putting your most recent job at the end of your work experience section a new thing as well? I’ve received three resumes in the past month or so formatted like that.

  16. cuppa

    I once got a resume with the objective, “To obtain a position at the [my city] zoo.”
    ….. I don’t work at the zoo.

  17. Kat

    My best friend happened to mention that the regional manager told her they didn’t want to hire a woman, unless she had lots of experience as they’re investigating the branch manager for harassment. Said she got around that by handing in a three page resume of all her banking jobs for the last six years. Even knowing all the responsibilities and achievements she had, I don’t understand how you handed in three pages, but it worked for her.

  18. Nicky

    Now this is interesting – I’m currently meeting with a big recruitment consultancy here in Scotland (Glasgow) and I’m being repeatedly told that for someone with my amount of work history, a 3 page, or even 4 page CV is fine. I’m currently at two and two-thirds because I’m struggling to capture everything with fewer words – the main issue is the 8 month employment gap last year which I managed to fill with multiple freelance projects. And because I’m a designer, I’m often asked to provide samples (even though everyone’s portfolio is online these days), so that adds an extra two or three pages depending on what projects I want to show off. Despite being a designer though, I keep my CV pretty plain because I hate gimmicky CVs (and don’t get me started on infographic CVs. Bleh).

    1. Leisabet

      Yep, I’m in Sydney (Australia), and my three-and-a-half page resume has never done me any harm. Given my… interesting… work history, I have no idea how I’d even cut it down, so conversations about the absolute importance of having a one-page resume are always really interesting to me.

    2. Student

      CVs are more common outside of the US. There are lots of job application conventions outside the US that are considered bizarre or a faux pas inside the US. Inside the US, we use resumes almost universally, and CVs are only tolerated in academia. The resume is specifically intended to be a brief summary of prior work experience, whereas a CV can go into great detail about past achievements.

  19. 4 pages!

    I just got 2 resumes that are 4 pages long each. What?! Also, one of them was a text file. My eyes hurt just trying to read it. The editor in me wanted to cut them down, re-format, and send them back just to make myself feel better.

  20. I Am Not A Number

    Here’s a good reason for keeping your resume down to 1-2 pages… So you’ll have something to say when your interviewer asks “Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume.” I got this questions last time I was job hunting and thought it was clever and awesome. And since my resume was a snappy one-pager, I was able to pull out a good response.

  21. The Bimmer Man

    I’m jealous. I *just* started my first professional position last Monday, so I don’t even have the option of bloating my resume with useless details.

  22. Anx

    My resume is two pages and I’ve been considering trying to fit it down to one pages after reading a few posts on this sites.

    The thing I’m having the most difficulty with is that I had designed my layout to be easy to navigate with plenty of white space, grouping similar skills on their own lines, using bullet formats and giving my education section more space.

    I tend to put my skills, education, and industry specific experience on the first page, and highlighted general work experience on the second page (for some)

    Would it better to just leave off some skills, squeeze the font closer together and just leave off my work history to jobs that aren’t directly relevant? I had been including them to show that I have worked since and before those directly relevant experiences. I also thought that if they didn’t want to read the whole thing, they could easily skim the bolded headings (position, company, location, time period) of each position and read the bullets if they were curious. Do you think I should just give them less information and give less thought into organizing the information so that it fits on one page and they don’t have to turn a page?

      1. Anx

        ~1 year employed. ~4 years volunteering/interning.

        I held off on bumping my education to the last section because in interviews I have noticed interviewers immediately comment on whether or not I have a B.S. and seem to look for my education level first and foremost. I also didn’t want to interrupt a section with a new page (although I suppose that’s not very important).

        I think part of my reluctance to trim my resume is that so few application sites give an opportunity to attach a cover letter.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, you should stick to one page at that experience level.

          You had mentioned though that that you’ve given your education section “more space.” How much are we talking? (Because that sounds like a prime candidate for cutting.)

          1. Anx

            I have one degree and one certificate (relevant to many positions). On some resumes, to make more room, and made that section have two columns so they’d be side by side. Giving them more space means they aren’t split into columns anymore.

            If I should stick to one page, would you suggest cutting out relevant experience or older experience. For example, should I cut out my internships and volunteering experience, even though that means I haven’t worked between 2010 and this March? Or should I cut out my customer service experience and just state how much I have without going into specifics? Or should I cut out my employment during school because I can save room without having an employment gap be an issue since some students don’t work during school and just say “student services” “tourism” “hospitality” “retail” experience or something in my skills section.

            Or should I list all of my jobs but leave out duties or achievements?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s hard to say without seeing your resume in its entirety, but you shouldn’t leave out work achievements or experience from the last four years.

              1. Anx

                Oh okay. Most of my accomplishments (and they weren’t special or anything) come from older experience (college jobs) so I guess I should let them go. My work and experience since graduation is very ‘duty’ based.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Just to be clear, I didn’t mean 4 years as a general rule. I was responding specifically to above where you asked, “Should I cut out my internships and volunteering experience, even though that means I haven’t worked between 2010 and this March? “

                2. Anx

                  Clarify:

                  I can eliminate the job descriptions from the jobs I have that are older. I think part of me was holding on to them for two long because it was the last time I felt I had a good amount of autonomy and produced felt like I really flourished. My more recent experience is not quite in my wheelhouse.

                  I also thought it would look weird for some entries to have bullets and descriptions while others didn’t.

            2. Onymouse

              Why does the education section need to be so long as to necessitate columns?

              For example:

              EDUCATION
              Certificate, Teapot Making, XYZ University, City, 2014
              BS, Teapot Science, Hons., with Distinction, University of Town, 2010

              1. Anx

                I’ve been using this format:

                Area of Study, certificate
                Name of School
                Location and date

                Area of Study, degree
                Name of School
                Location and date

                Sometimes Put them side-by-side instead

                1. Onymouse

                  Ah I see. The side-by-side idea is interesting. Now I want to try it out on my resume to see how it looks :)

            3. Lamb

              How many lines are you devoting to your degree? Because you should be able to fit it in 2 lines (3 if you insist on including GPA or have an honor you want to include), so perhaps that would save you a couple lines?

              1. Anx

                It could save a line or two, yes.

                I thought it was more readable this way because it could be read faster since there was less horizontal eye movement.

                But layout and readability aren’t going to priority anymore and I’m going to start prioritize shortening the page number over scan-ability.

                1. Lamb

                  I see now; when you talked about using columns for your education section I was picturing it being longer, like if you were including relevant course names or a description of your program.

    1. Trixie

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about gaps at this point in your post-education / career.

      Because you do have experience to show, I would move the education towards the bottom just because its more common and expected to be found there. They may be asking up front because your current resume is two pages. If its trimmed to one, they’ll spot it right away. (They’ll probably still ask just because you’re a recent graduate, it
      s a good conversation starter, or they haven’t taken much time to review prior.)

      The skills section is something better illustrated by your experience history. I can think and say I’m a masterful project manager but that’s according to me. Better to show what projects I managed in a masterful manner.

      Maybe header, employment/intern history (all of it and chronological), then education with degree and certificates on separate lines.

      Don’t forget you can highlight a few things in your cover letter that won’t then need to be included on your resume.

      1. Anx

        I was putting the education on the top so it would be on page one because it went to two pages. For any resumes that I can now get down to one, I will move it to the bottom. I tend to read from top to bottom, so I was writing it from that perspective. And I also like to get the quick and easy stuff out of the way. For me, it takes more sustained mental focus to read a work history section and get an idea of who someone is, what they’ve done before, how that fits what I’m looking for, etc. than to glance at an education section and decide if they meet any requirements or how that would be useful.

        And that’s why these comments are so helpful. When you don’t know what someone else is thinking, or likely to be thinking, the best guidance you have is “well, what would I want to see?”

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Anx, I think you’re making a lot of assumptions here about what hiring managers want to see that … aren’t actually what hiring managers care about :)

          Work experience nearly always matters more than education, with the exception of a few specific fields.

          1. Anx

            I think that experience trumps education, but my education is more closely aligned to many of my target jobs than my experience is.

            For example, when I apply to lab tech and research positions, the most relevant job-specific experience is from my coursework, not waitressing or customer service or teaching.

            When I apply for public health positions, I have some relevant experience, but my license, education, and internship are absolutely essential to my ability to do the job. Some of the jobs I’ve had are relevant, but none of them are critical.

            And even though I’ve made the false assumption that the education is just as or more relevant than the details of my employment history, I didn’t think the placement of them before the work history suggested a heightened sense of importance. Especially since when I look at a page, my eyes don’t look immediately to the top 1/3 of the page, but rather about to 1/3 down. I think I have been putting far too much consideration into making an attractive and quick-reading resume (on the rare one page resumes I have the education at the bottom always looked weird to me).

            1. Anx

              Also, thank you for following this thread. I do appreciate it very much even when I don’t quite understand why.

  23. EE

    *cringe*

    I’ve never had the work experience start later than middle of Page 1, but up until recently I included an award I got in secondary school in my Education section. Yes, the school I finished up in 12 years ago.

    And no, it’s not relevant to anything. It’s “The Dead Person Award For Outstanding Excellence”.

  24. Pennalynn Lott

    Alison – Is there any possible way to add a “like” button to the comments? Because I [and – based on other comments over the years – many others] would very much like to “reward” cleverness, ingenuity, and humor. . . without clogging up the comments section with three-letter responses (i.e., “LOL!”).

    There’s so much negativity online in general, I think it would be nice to pile on the “thumbs up” for fun and positive things.

    1. Student

      Contrary opinion – please don’t do this.

      We don’t need to reward comments. The comments section is very active with a healthy community. This kind of mechanic requires accounts, and I would stop commenting if this forum required an account.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, that’s basically where I’ve come down on it too. I considered requiring registration for a while (in the heat of frustration with some commenting issues) but have since moved away from it.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        I hadn’t thought of that. I also hadn’t thought of something I’ve seen on other sites: Nasty people “liking” very rude comments.

        There were just so many things in today’s Comments section that made me laugh out loud, I wanted to tell the commenters they’d brightened my day a little without taking up a bunch of real estate.

      3. Questioner

        I feel that the effort to add short responses reflect the personality of the people that help make this a true community of divergent people. And how else should I reflect my appreciation of the writer’s human when they can’t hear me laugh? I consider a lot of the comments like a conversation. A like button is the guy who nods his head but says nothing.

  25. joey_aam

    I’ve seen one that was 6 pages, work experience started page 3 :(

    (I’m joey_aam as I know there’s another commenter named “joey”)

  26. Brandy

    I’m a director at a 3000+ person company. I have been working for 9 years, with 3 employers and 5 roles. I have 2 degrees from separate schools. My resume is one page, easy to read, and a normal font.

    When I got my last promo, it crept to 2 pages, but I went through and re-worded a few things, cut achievements from my 1st job out of undergrad, etc. I’m back to a single page.

    I’ve been doing a lot of hiring lately for project and product managers. I absolutely prefer those with one -page resumes but will look at a 2 pager. I prefer hiring those that are good communicators, can make their point quickly in email, and focus on what’s relevant. The resume often indicates one’s ability to succeed here.

  27. ChloeK

    Hi

    I’ve been intrigued by this and a previous post… In New Zealand we refer to both resume and CV as one and the same, and even as a recent university graduate, because of my extensive volunteer work 4 pages is not considered tooooo long (although most people try to keep to 3-4). So what is the difference between a resume and a CV?

    1. Stephanie

      In the US, a CV’s usually used in academia and lists academic honors/appointments, education, publications, academic talks, etc and is usually multiple pages. Resume is just the regular ol’ marketing document featuring highlights used for job applications. One to two pages is standard in the US.

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