the charismatic aura, the glowing tan, and other amazing items seen on resumes

Last week, I asked about the strangest things you’ve ever seen in cover letters and resumes. You shared some amazing stories — here are some of my favorites.

1.  “A candidate happily let me know ‘I just got laid this morning’ (I assume he meant ‘laid off’ but it made me laugh).”

2.  “I had one applicant who put  ‘Have spent less than 8 nights incarcerated’ on his resume.”

3.  “At a previous job, I was assisting the head teacher with applications for a class teacher position. One lady wrote the entire application from the perspective of her hand puppet. The hand puppet had apparently filled in the application on behalf of the candidate. The best thing about it was that she included photos of her and the puppet working together on projects, e.g. in the garden, painting. I’m laughing now remembering it.”

4.  “I work in law. We once had an applicant openly state in their cover letter that their career goal was to work for opposing counsel, so they wanted a job at our firm to do opposition recon and learn how to better take us down in the future.”

5.  “I had a cover letter where a guy talked about navigating his divorce as relevant experience. This was a legal job, but it was not a family law job or adjacent, and the time was very much ‘I succeeded over my evil ex.’ So not appropriate.”

6. “Among other very silly things, a prospective intern that I was scheduled to interview included the bullet point ‘Powerful voice and charismatic aura’ on his resume. He ended up being a no-show for the interview, but I sorely wish I’d gotten to meet him.”

7.  “I once received a cover letter that stated, ‘I’m highly allergic to pet dander and I have three cats. I am determined and will bring this level of commitment to your company.'”

8.  “Once had a candidate write, ‘Strong typing skills,’ followed by, ‘WPM: 20.'”

9.  “One of my friends received a totally bonkers resume from a candidate who declared, ‘I have run a background check on myself and I have a clean record.'”

10.  “When I worked in corporate HR for a well-known convenience store based in the Philly area, I received a resume printed on a used sandwich wrapper from one of our stores. Complete with grease spots and smelling of rancid food. I give the person points for creativity, but for the love of all that’s holy, I wish they would have used a clean, unused wrapper.”

11.  “Received an email attachment (PDF) which I opened expecting to see a resume. It was a picture of the candidate, leaning back in a desk chair, with his hands pointing towards his chest. A superimposed box over his chest simply had the words: ‘Hire me!’ No resume at all.”

12.  “My favorite was under ‘other experience’: ”I’m extremely reliable. I once had 17 tequila shots on a night out and still made it to work the next day.'”

13.  “I once received a resume where the applicant had used an online service to generate a multi-page PDF with extreme background graphics that looked more like a sales document for a product than an actual resume. Worse, he hadn’t fully edited the whole thing, so page 1 started with a greeting of ‘Hey, wonderful’ and proceeded through instructions for using the template, including something along the lines of ‘this start-to-finish document will guide you through the process of putting your best foot forward.’

Spoiler: he did not put his best foot forward, and he did not get an interview.”

14.  “A favorite was a candidate who clearly took to heart the importance of quantifying accomplishments their interest section said something like ‘Exercise 6x/week for 3 years, increasing bicep circumference by 70% and decreasing waist circumference by 10%.'”

15.  “An applicant wrote in his resume, ‘I only write the personal pronoun ‘I’ as ‘i.’ Contact me to find out why!’

Honestly, I was so annoyed by this I decided no matter what the rest of his resume looked like, we would not call him. Luckily the rest of it ensured he wouldn’t have gotten a call back anyway.”

16.  “Mid-40s man in tech listed ‘grew largest pumpkin at the county fair, won a blue ribbon.’ His resume was otherwise excellent, so he got an interview.

At the end of the interview, they asked if he had any questions, and he wondered why they didn’t ask him about his pumpkin. The interviewer said, ‘Tell me more about that then, and how you see it relating to the work we do here.’

It happened when he was 12, he ‘didn’t remember much’ about how he did it, he just thought it was what made him unique.”

17.  “I’ve had several candidates who listed Olympic records, although not a single one was actually on the Olympic team, had verifiable records, or even possible. I had one 40-year-old candidate who stated that she won an Olympic medal in 1990. She would have been under the age of 10.”

18.  “At a nonprofit internship several years ago, I was tasked with receiving applications in the general mailbox and forwarding them to the relevant hiring managers, as there were many open positions in several countries overseas.

One applicant sent in a resume which had, in the lower left corner, a pretty big cartoon image of the genie from Aladdin coming out of his lamp. Then a blue speech bubble coming out of his mouth and filling the page. Inside the speech bubble was the actual resume (in smaller font, as the genie, lamp and bubble took up a fair amount of space on the page).

He was not hired.”

19.  “An applicant who was about 45 (based on high school grad date) listed every award received in elementary school. Nothing for middle or high school, just elementary and started with perfect attendance in kindergarten.”

20.  “From two different resumes:

‘The first thing to say is that I’m nobody special.’ — In the summary section.

‘Too many to list. Seriously. 10+ years.’ — In the skills section.”

21.  “A few years ago, I worked as a resume writer for a questionable career coaching company until it folded. Most clients would fight me tooth and nail if I said something needed to come out of their resume, and the career coach would back them up, so most of these bad boys clogged up someone’s inbox. Some of the best things I saw include:

* Demanded their resume highlight winning three erotic fan fiction contests in their awards and license section (medical field, did not get an interview).
* Citing over a decade of successfully hosting an unlicensed ayahuasca retreat in their home (elementary education, did not get an interview).
* ‘I probably know more than management does about INDUSTRY TOPIC’ in the ‘about me’ section, applying for a job in which he had no education or experience (cybersecurity, did not get an interview).
* Insisted that ‘never cheated on my wife or been tempted to cheat with a coworker regardless of mutual attraction’ stayed in the special skills section (media, did not get an interview).”

22.  “My friend in recruiting once received a 60-page CV, consisting of solid text and screenshots of the candidate’s IQ test results, recruiter inMails (to show how in-demand he was, I guess), feedback from previous recruiters (he highlighted that a previous recruiter had declared him the ‘most intelligent candidate they’d ever interviewed’ – but didn’t mention whether he was offered the job), that he’d recently attended a reading bootcamp that improved his reading comprehension to 2000 wpm, and – my absolute highlight – a summary of his EQ test results that showed he had a self-awareness EQ of 120.”

23.  “My mom, a nurse, had ‘looks good in white’ on her resume and got hired. It was the 60s/70s, a different time. She is still a nut.”

24.  “We had an intern who applied for a full-time role a couple years later … and his resume listed the accomplishments of our ENTIRE TEAM over the summer when he had interned. Cool that he was paying attention to what all of us were working on, I guess? But it was so clearly an impossible scope for a single intern and he was applying to the exact same team with all the same people. I’ll never know what led him to think that was a good move.”

25.  “On his resume for a serving position, “glowing tan” was its own bullet point on a list of skills.”

26.  “Applicant put in fake experience. Unfortunately, he put in my job as his current fake job — a job I’ve held for 10 years. I guess he didn’t realize he’d be reporting into me. Another applicant had one line of actual job experience, and a whole page of his tennis accomplishments, including children’s tournaments he’d won 15 years ago. As a child.”

27.  “One candidate listed ‘High social status’ as a quality. I emailed him and he explained that he had a large following on social media.”

28.  “My place of work has an online application for candidates to fill out. Under their work history, one applicant answered the question of who was their supervisor at previous position with ‘Barbara.’ The answer to the follow-up question ‘Why did you leave this position?’: ‘Barbara.'”

29.  “My three favorites of all time (hiring non-attorney positions in a midsize, fairly conservative business law firm). None were invited to interview, but number three was very close:

1. Perfectly fine resume for accounting position, but cover letter indicated they had been “screwed” by lawyers multiple times and wanted the job to prevent that from happening to others.
2. Gentleman with a skill listed as strong research skills, with a recent five-year “employment” stint listed as author and a link to his self-published fetish novel.
3. Good relevant prior experience, but the current position listed was a year-long stint as Miss BDSM OurState.”

30.  “From the Personal Interests / Accomplishments section:
‘Scented Candles
• I own 50+ scented candles covering every season of the year and give optimal recommendations using a calculated analysis on season, location, environment, event, personal preference, and vibe.'”

31.  “My heartfelt apologies to the original applicant wherever they may be now, but this section header of their cover letter has always stuck with me: ‘From whence did this stranger come to us in our hour of need?’ Love the confidence.”

32.  “Some job sites allow you to add soft skills to your application and ask you to list when this trait took effect. I’ve seen a lot of resumes that read things like ‘Enthusiasm (less than 1 year).'”

33.  “I’m currently hiring for a student worker position and received a resume that was just a screenshot of the candidate’s notes app on his phone. It included his full date of birth and age, at least five discrete fonts, and ‘good at video games’ in the skills section. Also, the screenshot was not cropped, and his phone battery was at like 5%. We will not be interviewing this person, but I’m secretly kinda bummed I won’t get to meet someone who sounds like truly a top-tier agent of chaos.”

34.  “The marketing candidate who sent a half of a dollar bill with his cover letter stating we would get the other half once we interviewed him. He was not interviewed.”

35.  “I saw a resume that included the line, ‘Personal interests: none.’ Not sure if he trying to signal how dedicated he was to his work?”

{ 403 comments… read them below }

      1. Sylv*

        And loved by barbarians? (I think you are referring to Bodo Wartke’s “Barbaras rhabarberbar”? If so, I have watched that video several times today, lol!)

      2. Pretty as a Princess*

        OMG the Rhubarb Bar! *dying*

        … came here to say I would probably interview the Barbara refugee …

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I know, right? The applicant successfully paints an intriguing story with just two words. Well, one word repeated.

      1. nutella fitzgerald*

        “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn” is dead, long live “Barbara Barbara”!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My first boss was called Barbara (and the job was in Germany). She was not this kind of Barbara.

      My “Barbara” was called Emma. Highlights include microwaving smelly food in the 4-person office (not kitchen, not breakroom, actual office) and instructing me to commit fraud.

      1. Wolf*

        Mine was called Nicky, and wanted us to clock out and continue working if we were over the legal amount of work hours for the day.

        1. Bear Expert*

          Fraud there is nominally governmental back up to crack down on – you can call for help.

          The microwave is torture you can only endure.

      2. anonprofit*

        Mine was named Cathy and she looked exactly like the newspaper comic character of the same name.

    3. Rose*

      I had immediate sympathy for that person! I’ve left a couple jobs because of my own Barbaras!

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        And I believe it was adjusted upwards in the 80s and 90s (I thought I read it was “turns 16 in the calendar year of the event” most recently)

        Someone did point out that 1990 was not an Olympic year, either.

        1. Serious Pillowfight*

          You’re right! From Wikipedia: “Currently, per the 1997 regulation, gymnasts must be at least 16 years of age, or turning 16 within the calendar year, to compete in senior-level events.”

          Interesting side note: “The oldest female gymnast competing in senior international events in 2023 is Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, (b. 1975) who was 46 years, 1 month old at the 2020 Summer Olympics. She was 17 years, 1 month old at her first Olympics, the 1992 Summer Olympics.”

          Sorry to go off; I was obsessed with the 1992 Olympic gymnasts when I was in 4th grade and totally wanted to be one.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I think I was just reading the other day that the 2024 Summer Olympics will actually be the first one that Oksana Chusovitina will not have competed in since 1992, she I believe was unable to participate in the trials due to an injury?

            1. ArchivesPony*

              Yes. She had an ankle injury and pulled out the day before prelims at the qualifier

          2. ArchivesPony*

            And what’s sad is that Chuso won’t be making it to Paris. She had to pull out of the qualifier because of an ankle injury :(

            1. Gumby*

              I know! It’s awful. The news means that I am officially too old to qualify as an Olympic gymnast. (I’m the same age as her, but much, much, much, less qualified.)

        2. ArcticGlimmer*

          I’m guessing at least some of the people telling they’ve won Olympic medals are confusing Olympics as a term for sports competitions in general, or something in that fashion.

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            “That’s why you signed me up for the volleyball team??? I meant Math Olympiad!”

            (Don’t @ me, commentariat, I have a STEM degree and I know math is srs bsns)

          2. Wolf*

            Related: any running competition is a marathon. Some people will proudly tell you they ran a 5 km marathon last weekend.

          3. Nicole Vermeer*

            Maybe not unlike how my co-worker recently told me his family did “marathons” together when he was a kid.

            I figured that was unlikely, given he had never mentioned running and I’ve never come across someone who has done multiple marathons where running wasn’t a big part of their life, so I told him something to that effect. So he looked into it and it turns out he was talking about his family doing 5k and 10k runs.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          That’s what gets me about confabulations like this: now, more than any time in history, claims of this sort can be blown apart like the first little pig’s straw house in ten seconds. I know people who concoct stories do so in a strange state of mind where they truly think whatever they churn up will simply be believed, but it’s like they teleported here from the 1870s and really think everyone lives in a tiny hamlet with no access to the outside world.

          1. Me -- on AAM at lunch*

            Right? I was watching Ripley on Netflix (set in the early 1960s) and it occurred to me that his in-person cons would be much harder to pull off nowadays. If he were strictly online, well, that’s fairly easy to fake.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      This is out there, but I’m wondering if any of these candidates might have participated in the K-12 enrichment program that is currently called Odyssey of the Mind because it got sued by the International Olympic Committee when it was called Olympics of the Mind?

      1. Betty*

        It was called Odyssey of the mind when I was in elementary school (so, ~1992 at the latest.)

        1. The Formatting Queen*

          Agreed, I participated in OM from 1988-1994 and it was definitely “Odyssey” by then.

        1. AnnyFlavash*

          Me too, I had forgotten about my love/hate relationship with OM back in the day.

        2. Tinkerbell*

          It’s still around, but there’s a splinter group called Destination Imagination and from what I can tell, OM and DI aren’t necessarily on good terms on an organizational level :-P I ran a DI team for my daughter up until COVID and I was really sad she didn’t want to continue :-\

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        I was thinking it might be an Olympiad – international STEM contests, held every year. But it would be really weird to not specify the discipline, especially if you’re trying to use it as a job qualification.

        1. Missa Brevis*

          Yeah, a medal from one of the ISOs is plenty impressive, but very much not the same as a medal from the Olympic Games

      3. Filosofickle*

        It was called Odyssey of the Mind when I did it in 1984-85 :)
        It was a really great experience.

    2. ArchivesPony*

      No, as others pointed out, rules were changed in the mid-90s. Before the rule change it was 15 in the olympic year (So Dominique Moceanu of gymnastics fame, was actually 14 at the games but turned 15 that year). Dimitrios Loundras was the youngest ever olympian at 10 (in 1896) and Beatrice Huștiu was the youngest female in the 1960s

    3. Zeus*

      Not in the non-existent 1990 Olympics. They split out the Summer and Winter Olympics starting in 1994, before that they were both in 1988 and 1992.

    4. Former Admin Turned PM*

      Even if #17 were a gymnast and able to compete at the age of 10, there was no Olympics in 1990. 1988 and 1992 were both years in which we have both Summer and Winter Games, and 1994 was the first year under the staggered schedule.

  1. Lily Rowan*

    I’m gathering from this that one of the most beneficial pieces of advice job seekers can get is that you don’t need to have all of these sections! You don’t need a summary, or a skills section, certainly not personal interests!!

    Also, there were no Olympics in 1990.

    1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      I’m actively reviewing applications right now, and it is SO TRUE that you don’t need a bajillion sections. I want to immediately see your education (so I know if you have the required degree) and I want to then immediately see your job history (do you have any relevant experience).
      Anything else can get tacked on at the end, but don’t make me wade through a page of nebulous soft skills and self-summarizations before I get to the hard facts. (I’m not penalizing people if they don’t have a perfectly convenient resume, but I *am* learning what makes the life of a hiring committee easier.)

      Weirdly, I’ve had multiple people include a photo on their resume.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        On the photos: Is your candidate pool international? Some countries expect a photo. The U.S. strongly prefers not to, but customs/rules differ.

        1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          No, that’s what’s extra surprising! Both applicants with a photo are located in the US, white (as far as I can tell by the photo *which is not something I want to be able to tell!*), and graduates of liberal arts colleges and good grad programs that definitely have resume help.

          I think I’ve found the real culprit, though–Canva! They have a ton of resume templates that include a spot for a photo; the format is very similar to what was submitted to us!

          1. Lisa*

            LinkedIn also encourages people to include a photo in their profile, too. That can make sense for networking (eg. “Oh yeah, I remember that person”) but is such a bad idea for job hunting.

            1. FlyingAce*

              I did generate my resume from LinkedIn the other day and it did not include my profile photo, though.

      2. Broken Lawn Chair*

        I do have a summary at the top of mine, but it’s one sentence and is designed as at least the start of the answer to questions most people will have upon reading my resume (I’m trying to change fields back to the one I used to be in). I think of it as the mini cover letter for people who don’t read cover letters. Then it goes straight into education & work history. I, too, have been the one reading the resumes and sitting in interviews. That experience really helps when you go to write your own!

    2. WheresMyPen*

      I’d really want to phone screen that person just so I can ask all about her experience of the 1990 Olympics, then ask her how she managed to compete in a non-existent event

    1. topcat*

      If they were applying for a marketing promotion role at Piz Buin, it seems a pretty valid skill!

    1. H.C.*

      My first thought was Wawa too! (I missed those late-night runs and wish there was an equivalent out here in West Coast)

    2. CheesePlease*

      only someone from Philly would think this was a smart idea who who commitment to the brand haha

    3. Underrated Pear*

      #10 made me laugh because the letter could have omitted the “in the Philly area” part and I still would have been 99% certain that this was Pennsylvania and either Sheetz or Wawa – with slightly better odds on Wawa because it’s a very Philly thing to do.

      My non-Pennsylvanian friends don’t fully grasp the role that gas station convenience stores play in PA culture. :)

      1. RVA Cat*

        Wawa has conquered the mid-Atlantic I think. But Central Virginia’s about to get our first Buckee’s. Will a turf war ensue?

        1. LikesToSwear*

          Ooh, where in Central Virginia? We drive through a few times a year (most recently in March), and haven’t heard about it come north. And, yes, I think a turf war will eventually ensue… Wawa has mentioned expanding and building much larger Wawas in the coming years.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Buckee’s is the modern upgrade for Stuckey’s, right down to the tacky souvenirs.

      2. BurnOutCandidate*

        100% Wawa. The Susquehanna is kinda the dividing line between Sheetz and Wawa in Pennsyltucky, though Wawa is expanding into York and Dauphin counties.

        I was wondering, was it a regular Wawa sandwich wrapper, or did he use the special Hoagiefest wrapper? I may be a fan of Hoagiefest…

    4. Not A Manager*

      I was just reading the “Barbara” comments when I saw this one, and I immediately thought of Gilda Radner as Baba Wawa.

    1. MissGirl*

      I don’t know that Barbara but I know a Barbara. I felt all of the applicant’s pain in that single word.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If you were to catch me on a significantly-enough bad day, I could sum up an 18-month role that way, too.

        I didn’t leave that role to emigrate because of “Barbara,” but the idea that there would be an armed international border between us afterwards was definitely a selling point.

        1. Archi-detect*

          I am choosing to think that two nations saw the conflict at hand, and decided to impose a border between you. hopefully the bathrooms ended up on your side

    2. Madame Arcati*

      I guess Barbara could be annoying with all the making rhubarb cakes and barbarians and singing about it etc

      (I did a current pop culture ref everybody!!)

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Most people leave their manager, rather than their job.
      And when your manager is Barbara, you learn to be succinct when explaining about it.

  2. Dadjokesareforeveryone*

    I mean, for number 26 at least they didn’t list a children’s tournament they won as an adult. There’s only one person that can pull that off, and that’s Homer Simpson.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Kramer doesn’t bother with resumes. He just shows up and starts working.

        At a previous organization, someone kind of did this. His friend got a job there and suggested he come along on the first day. HR needed people and did the paperwork for both.

        Needless to say, they were far from stellar employees and got fired. Then sued the company for wrongful termination! And settled!

        Pretty sure at least half these resumes would have raised nobody’s antennae at that place.

        1. Annie*

          Haha, that’s awesome. Just show up and get a job. But that’s not a good result if he sued the company.
          The Kramer thing was hilarious.
          “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to let you go”
          “But you’re not even paying me!”
          “That’s what makes this so difficult.” :)

  3. Melanie*

    I’m casting a play right now that requires young actors (late teens and early twenties to play adolescents.) As expected, many of them are somewhat eccentric. However, three really stand out:
    – The young man whose headshot was a full length shirtless photo of himself under a tree, screenshotted from Facebook
    – The young man whose cover letter read, “Dear concerns,
    Myself ___ and below are my headshots and I am working actor and wants to enhance and learn from this wonderful opportunity which I think I can get by playing the role of ___. ” He also has a full beard.
    – And my favorite, the young woman who listed her proficiency at certain skills on a bar graph: Biking (55% Proficiency); Singing (50% Proficiency); Fencing; (45% Proficiency); Snowshoeing (30% Proficiency). I am still trying to work out how someone is 55% proficient at biking or singing.

    1. AFac*

      Can sing 6 of 12 notes on the musical scale, working on the 7th?

      I can better understand 55% proficient at biking. I myself stay on the bike around 50% of the time…

      1. Quill*

        But surely you score more points for staying on while going fast, and less for falling off more disastrously?

    2. Antilles*

      My best guess is that she really meant percentile. So by rating yourself at 45% proficiency in fencing, you’re saying that you’re pretty much mid-tier among fencers; nowhere close to the best, but also well above the worst.
      Though I have no idea how she came up with those numbers. For something like fencing where there’s actual rating-based competitions, you could theoretically have such a number (e.g., my chess app tells me that my Elo ranks me in around the 94th percentile) but most of those skills are inherently subjective.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Please tell me that is not a typo and he actually wrote ‘dear concerns’. I’m cracking up…maybe I’ve been in the office too long, but that’s hilarious to me.

        1. Elle*

          Was he south Asian? It’s a pretty normal construction there – we get it all the time from South Asian applicants at the university I work for. I think it probably originated from “to whom it may concern”.

    4. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Our company recruits for software based jobs from time to time and I still can’t get over how many candidates will send in a bar graphs of their software skills and then they rank all of their software skills as low. Maybe bar graph format is not meant for you then.

    5. Silver Robin*

      I saw the proficiencies thing for an intern last year (undergrad student). Things like “French – 85%” and others. It was down the left side in rings that had the proportional amount in color, very infographic-y.

      I was so bemused and totally ignored them. Language was the most legible one but still, I have no idea of your reference point! Does 100% French mean you would be able to live on your own in that country or does it mean you could get an award for literature?

      1. ferrina*

        I’ve also seen this format for language proficiency! I assumed it was based on some sort of proficiency test, but there was no test mentioned. It looked cool though. (the person was not hired for other reasons)

      2. amoeba*

        That was a thing that was really hyped as job advice when I was graduating – graphical resumes with bars for skill levels etc. Luckily, I always found it gimmicky and a bit silly so never did end up applying with a pie chart for my language skills or whatever. But it really was a big thing and people paid actual money for those fancy templates! I almost felt like a rebel when I used plain MS Word and, well, bullet point text instead of fancy graphics.

    6. Violet*

      ” I am still trying to work out how someone is 55% proficient at biking or singing.”

      This made me laugh out loud! I was sitting in my car, alone, and hoping people passing by didn’t think I was crazy.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Ahhh, the 35 year old teens, a longstanding tradition!

      I did know a guy who had “can grow full beard in three days” as a skill on his acting resume’.

      1. Melanie*

        I love it. To complicate matters, this performer was wearing a turban, indicating that he is Sikh. Culturally Sikh men are not permitted to shave, so it’s not even something I can overlook for now and talk to him about later.

    8. WheresMyPen*

      I’m currently casting for educational French videos aimed at kids 11-16, and one teenager sent us a casting video explaining that he’d love to take part as French is the sexiest language…

    9. PresidentBob*

      I was going to make a separate response in regards to something above (I think an obvious fibs that gets noticed immediately bit), but I’m going to add an anecode to this response.
      A while back I was in a show at a community playhouse where the lead actress had stated she was the lead in multiple well-known shows on her sheet. She had a really good audition but once we started rehearsing it was clear the history was a total lie. Didn’t know any terms relating to acting, couldn’t take any sort of direction, and if you mentioned something she claimed she was in, total blank. I mentioned Streetcar and made a joke regarding it and nothing.
      Why lie? It’s community theatre, we’re all doing this for fun and free and most of the actors had little to no experience (like many community theatres, a bunch of regulars but each show had a handful doing it for the first, maybe only, time).
      She ended up getting let go and replaced two weeks in.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I’d actually guess that maybe it was 7 entire nights, and then maybe released at like 3:00 am of the 8th night… so a little less than 8 full nights, right?

    2. Esmae*

      I’m thinking he’s been arrested dramatically more than seven times, but has only been held overnight a total of seven nights.

      1. ferrina*

        That’s a very strange bragging point.

        “Sure, I’ve been suspected a bunch, but they never hold me longer than a few hours….”

        1. Syfy Geek*

          My ex brother in law once said about his 4 kids “they’re all grown and none of ’ems been in jail”. And he was bragging.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I guess that’s still better than “none of ’ems spent more than 7 nights in jail.”

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Like in Addams Family Values!

        “Ohhh, what a ladykiller.”


    3. Archi-detect*

      good to see I am not the only one who reads oddly specific numbers that way- “We are one of the top 6 teapot manufacturers in Northern Springfield!” so sixth huh?

      1. Expelliarmus*

        I feel like in that situation, you could say “top 10” and it would come across as more impressive because if someone were to research you, they’d be like “oh they’re actually better than 10th”

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        And I see those superlatives and automatically think, “Who decides and by what metric?” Even googling something like largest city in the world and you’ll get several different answers…
        – population? okay that number is literally constantly changing as people are born and die or move in/out so what census year…is it reliable or potentially political propaganda?
        – square miles/kilometers? a bit easier to quantify but misleading if you have, for example, 1,000 buildings spread out across 3,000 square-miles.

        1. Wolf*

          There’s an area that proudly claims to be the 3rd largest municipality in my state. It’s a bunch of tiny villages spread over a pretty large area.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I’ve been to White Horse, Canada, the largest city in North America*. It has fewer people in it than most towns.

          *in square kilometers

      3. amoeba*

        My university was once “top 11” in some subject… wonder what rank they actually were!

      4. DyneinWalking*

        I like that better than the advertising slogan of one store in my area, which is “The number #1 [type] store in [town]!”

        It’s the only [type] store in this town. I get annoyed every time I read that stupid sentence.

      5. Beth*

        On my commute, I pass a medical building with a HUGE banner proclaiming “Top 5% in the US!” Ah, I see. If you were any higher, you would use the number that sounds better. You’re in the 5% bracket, so you’re about number 370 in a list of 7400. How nice.

  4. YRH*

    For number 17, there were no Olympics in 1990. There was a 10 year old gymnast who competed in 1896 and an unknown coxswain who competed in rowing in 1900 that was likely between the ages of 7-10. I can only assume your applicant was a time traveler.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I wonder if it’s something like that “claim you were Time Person of the Year, the year it was ‘you'”. Like they figured “claiming I was an Olympic champion the year there was no Olympics is a cool joke ‘fun fact’ since I did do as well as was possible in the Olympics that year.”

  5. Double A*

    7. “I once received a cover letter that stated, ‘I’m highly allergic to pet dander and I have three cats. I am determined and will bring this level of commitment to your company.’”

    I feel like this crowd would at least call them for an interview.

    1. Georgia Sands*

      I would give them a chance based on this, it’s funny but also it does show determination!

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      Yes, I would totally want to interview them if the rest of the resume stood up.

    3. Sneaky Squirrel*

      As someone highly allergic to pet dander & cats myself, I think you need to bring them in for an interview just to check on their well being.

      1. ferrina*

        Absolutely this. Like….you okay? I get that cats are adorable and good at mind control, but please don’t sacrifice your body.

        I can only hope that they are misusing ‘highly allergic’. I’ve known people that claimed to be ‘highly allergic’, by which they mean they will sniffle a bit if they bury their nose in the cat’s fur. On the other end of the spectrum, I knew someone who claimed they weren’t allergic at all, then would sneeze uncontrollably after spending 5 minutes in a house where cats lived (he didn’t even have to touch the cat to have an allergy attack, or even have the cat be in the room)

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          My friend is…fairly to quite allergic, on your scale? (Although, I’d put anaphalaxis as the endpoint on it). She’s doing a couple years of immunotherapy shots to reduce her reactions (cats plus environmental). She now has two cats, so I guess it’s working, and she’s definitely okay!

          Allergies aren’t beneficial at all, so if you’re able to access the care to get rid of them, why not? (ALTERNATELY maybe they already have the cat mind control parasite and that’s what led them down the path….)

    4. Lana Kane*

      I read this one as the person having a sense of humor! I would have called them in if the resume was good.

      1. Danish*

        Yeah, the bit about being determined and bringing commitment sounds like someone fairly self aware and witty. I loved that one.

    5. RLC*

      I’d interview them! Determination plus humor.
      Brings to mind the surprisingly high percentage of my colleagues who had severe insect bite allergies. We worked for a natural resources agency and most of us spent most of our time outdoors, high likelihood of encountering insects. (All were wise enough to carry EpiPens and let the rest of us know where they carried them in case of emergency.)

    6. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I would interview that person right now. That’s the kind of Chaos Muppet energy I’m looking for.

    7. The Real Fran Fine*

      This is actually one of my direct reports, only his is dogs. I just shake my head, lol.

    8. OMG, Bees!*

      #7 reminds me of a friend who is allergic to cats but likes them so much she takes medicine so she can have one.

    9. Roja*

      Ha! Yes, I would laugh and then call them in, assuming the rest of the resume is suitable.

    10. CatDanderFunny*

      100% This is hilarious in an appropriate way depending on how the rest of the cover letter went.

  6. WellRed*

    No 6 you probably couldn’t have handled his aura. He’s probably also currently conning investors into supporting his tech startup,

  7. Toledo Mudhen.*

    I worked for Barbara. She fired two of us, one of us quit, and she then hired all her own people.

    And got fired about a year later.

    1. Archi-detect*

      I have to wonder if her minions followed and if they saw nothing wrong with this process. I know I would lose my mind and forget what company we worked at this year

  8. Michelle Smith*

    I needed this laugh today. And I’m suddenly feeling a LOT better about my resume.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I hadn’t realized “forgettable” was a bar to aim for, but I’m glad I cleared it?

  9. Another Hiring Manager*

    I once had a job application for an intern who had worked at a popular fast food chain. She did a good job describing carhop duties as customer service and relevant. I’m not sure why she felt the need to include she did it on roller skates.

    1. Be Gneiss*

      I sit at a desk most of the day and I still couldn’t do my job on roller skates. If I could, I would definitely include that on my resume.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! Still proud of being able to play pinball and skee ball on roller skates back when roller rinks were all the rage and ours had an arcade.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Anyone who can maintain good customer food service while doing it in roller skates has a good level of attention to detail (and good balance)!

    3. Rainy*

      The carhops who can rollerskate get a bump to the regular hourly rate; she might be including it because of that.

    4. PhyllisB*

      Another Hiring Manager: I can answer that question. There is a fast-food chain (in the South, don’t know if they’re in other areas of the country) that pays extra per hour for carhops that can skate. This is a highly coveted skill. In fact, they even have employee skating competitions. One of the employees in a neighboring town even qualified for a championship.

      1. allathian*

        Makes sense to me. The carhops who rollerskate can get the orders to the customers faster than those who walk so they deserve a bonus for it.

        When I worked retail, the bookstore I worked for paid a bonus for language skills, and to get the bonus you had to take a test. Sadly I didn’t get much use out of my French flag, but I used English and Swedish pretty much every day.

        1. Rainy*

          That’s not actually the reason–it’s that traditionally at American drive-ins in the 50s, the carhops skated, so having a rollerskating carhop on staff conveys that old school feel and sparks nostalgia. The nostalgia is worth the pay bump.

    5. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

      Any other Canadians out there remember when Superstore had price checkers on rollerblades? As a kid, I thought that was the coolest job out there.

  10. Drowning in Spreadsheets*

    I am constantly seeing hobbies and interests on resumes from associate to mid-career level candidates these days. In the ones I’ve reviewed, it’s men who list the gym/working out as a hobby, I’ve never seen that on a woman’s resume.

    1. Annie*

      I wonder how much of this is a way for candidates to “screen in” for culture fit and/or convey “I’m looking for a better balance on the life side of work/life balance” but in a way that sounds conscientious or achievement-oriented?

    2. ceiswyn*

      That’s interesting. I wonder whether they perceive gym-going as a trait of successful people – the Type A ‘city’ go-getter who’s so driven and ambitious that he can’t bear not to work hard even in his non-work activities? So they’re trying to look like that?

      As a woman, I list ‘hiking’ among my interests. However I don’t bother mentioning that I’ve hiked two ultra marathons non-stop, because a) it’s not relevant to my job skills and b) I don’t think that ‘obsessively determined to the point of self-injury’ is necessarily an advantageous trait. And I suspect it’s especially unlikely to be seen as good in a woman.

      1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

        When I used to frequent dating websites, I interacted with a lot of guys who listed the gym as their hobby, and I would always ask why they felt that was a hobby and not just a part of basic health. One guy was able to articulate that he felt it showed “discipline” which I guess is supposed to be an attractive quality in a potential mate? But most of them just said it was what they did with their free time, and that was it.

      2. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        I (F63) walked a full marathon the week of my 50th birthday. Took me just over 8 hours. But I never thought of putting it on a resume.

  11. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    I’m surprised at how many sexytimes-adjacent content was included in resumes. Forgive me for my naivete, but isn’t sexytimes supposed to be left out of workytimes?

    1. metadata minion*

      Yes! Unless it’s actual (legal) paid work. You worked for a sex toy store? Great! You probably have a bulletproof customer service persona and can handle weird customers all day.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah I did interview someone who worked for Anne Summers at one point for a fairly junior customer facing role in a previous company who seemed very capable. Unfortunately for me she got a better offer so we never had the pleasure of employing her.

      2. raincoaster*

        A friend of mine worked at an adult toy store and applied to be teller at a bank. They brought him in out of sheer curiosity, and asked him what POSSIBLE transferable skills there could be. He immediately replied “Customer confidentiality!” He was so impressive he got the job and was there for years.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          I’d assume adult toy store would be pretty much just like any retail store and so many of those skills are transferable. When I was moving out of retail going into office assistant/receptionist, I had a guy interview me who went, “I know you can handle anything we throw at you if you’ve worked in retail for six years.” That gave me a little boost of confidence. (I didn’t get his job, but I ended up with a good job so I always have fond memories of that interview.)

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      Can work to filter out staid employers, but often the skills are relevant.

      “stage lighting operator: musical theatre, strip club and conferences” is perfectly reasonable.

      “software engineer and professional nudist” not so much but I put in there to front-run the inevitable “you do not meet our corporate image” stuff that will come up sooner or later. I’m a diversity hire despite being a white male, you just have to look at the rainbow paint job on the velomobile I ride to work to see that. I need an employer who will say “why do you want that. Oh, ok, that makes sense” rather than “human resource #625423 get back in the box”.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        ….I had to Google velomobile and now I’m intensely curious.

  12. EngGirl*

    Ok, but for some of these people I would be compelled to bring them in to break up the monotony of all my other interviews.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        If the job was teaching early elementary/primary school kids, I think she might actually be pretty awesome in the role. I think if that were the case, she deserved an interview. If it were for middle or high school though, no.

        1. Catfish Mke*

          Does nobody admit to watching South Park? I would immediately get shades of Mr Hat

      2. Festively Dressed Earl*

        If sock puppet lady had the right skills and experience, I’d have put her on the top of the list. She sounds like an awesome teacher.

  13. Not an Olympian*

    I would love to know what #17 was hiring for that multiple people felt that having an Olympic record would be beneficial to the job. But not so much that they thought someone would check that easily verifiable fact?

    1. Lana Kane*

      I wondered this was well. I really must know what pulled in all the Olympians.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        hmmm, is the city a previous host location? Could they be trying to pass off they were “in” the olympics because they attended one… doesn’t explain 1990 though.

    2. Antilles*

      I suspect they just wanted to come up with an impressive sounding factoid that would make their resume stand out, since being an Olympian is an extremely rare and impressive accomplishment.
      Of course, it’s not really clear what the long-term plan is here. Not only is it easily verifiable via Google, but also you’d have a solid chance of getting caught out in the interview when the manager asks out of curiosity and your story just doesn’t add up.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m sure I saw some reference here to some really bad advice somewhere about putting a “fun fact” that is only true by a weird interpretation on your resumé like that you were Time’s Person of the Year 2006 (as it was apparently “You”), so maybe they were following something like that and their thought process went, “nobody did better than me in the Olympics in 1990 (since there were no Olympics); therefore I can claim I got a gold medal. That is a ‘fun fact’ that should get the interviewer’s interest.”

    3. BlueberryGirl*

      Given that I work for an actual Olympian, I can say they do exist! But yeah, it’s pretty rare and super easy to verify.

    4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I know a number of Olympians, and some definitely list/listed it on their resume, at least for a while – it shows incredible dedication, focus, and tenacity, and in most of the cases I can think of, a level of self-awareness that is above the norm. (hah but #notallolympians, that’s for sure).

      I’m biased given my sample, but I would look extra at a resume of someone that legitimately made it to Olympics! Even if they’re, say, Jamaican bobsledders (i.e., low local competition), it takes chutzpah to get that far.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I think being an Olympian 100% has a place on your resume, but it needs to be true.

        The problem in this particular case is that it’s a big fat lie, and a really terrible, easily disprovable one. Lies do NOT belong on your resume, let alone really obvious ones.

    5. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      I vaguely remember a trend in shady “get hired now!” articles that suggested exactly this, in the early aughts. Presented as “put achievements on your resume. Did you play at Carnegie Hall, or win a gold at Lillehammer?”

  14. EUXdirector007*

    #4 was diabolical to say the least.

    I wish all of these had approximate dates (year) so we could see just how bonkers some of these candidates were. I bet a few of these were fairly recent!

    1. raincoaster*

      It would be really interesting to see what differences the pandemic has made to résumé’s and applications generally.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      #4 is fractally WTF. Every layer of it is exactly as much WTF as the entire thing. Even if his cunning plan somehow succeeded he would be conflicted out of cases involving his former firm for at least as long was any information he gleaned while working there was relevant. Precisely *because* he had information he gleaned from working there.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I really don’t think that guy understood how a mole is supposed to work.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          But gosh, his cover letter showed so much honesty and gumption that we hired him anyway! /sarcasm

      2. New manager woes*

        For #4, I wonder if it was a specific ‘side’ that the applicant was on. E.g. the commenters firm was representing corporations or government, and the applicant said his dream is to represent workers on labor cases, or class action lawsuits or work for some civil rights group. Just trying to come up with any logic here…

    3. Broken Lawn Chair*

      I just want to know how this individual passed the MPRE or whatever their state uses for an ethics exam.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I think they did an admirable job of disclosing all their conflicts-of-interest right away. Most people trying to learn opposition secrets probably wouldn’t be so upfront about disclosing it!

    4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Is it? I feel like the intent was diabolical, but putting in writing was closer to daft?

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Reliability, sure, but it also makes me wonder how much work they got done the next day.

        1. Wolf*

          Yeah, at some point it seems wiser to take a day off than to have your employer pay you for a full day of getting nothing done.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      My liver screamed.

      And I was a Navy sailor, I’ve had professional training.

  15. Flailing Felix*

    I got to say I get why its on this list, but #28 (Barbara)…..should also not be included on this list.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – That one makes sense to me – the application form requires that you list your manager’s name. You don’t want anyone contacting your manager. So you just put a first name. Then list that same person as the reason you’re looking to leave. Self-explanatory.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        It’s honest, it’s concise. The lack of surname means Barbara will not be contacted.
        We all know people leave managers not jobs. This person is not pretending anything else. This is someone who will tell it like it is, no fuss. I really want to hire them, and tell them my name is Barbara just as a joke.

  16. Nilsson Schmilsson*

    I’d bet money that several of these were recommended by career coaches, mentors or recruiters, under the guise of “make yourself stand out”.

    1. The Real Fran Fine*

      I love this too and, as a manager, I’d probably be tempted to bring them in just to get more recommendations.

    2. MirandaTempest*

      I’d interview them if the rest of the resume was good. At one of my previous jobs, we hired someone who was really into grocery stores. She’d even written a grad school paper about them. Unusual interests combined with a lot of attention to detail is a plus in my book!

  17. Industry Behemoth*

    Not about resumes, but several years ago there was a TV special called The Sexiest Bachelor in America. It was a male beauty contest.

    I was bummed when one contestant didn’t make the semifinal round. In the introductions he said he was an inspirational performance artist, and I wanted to find out what that was.

    1. Esmae*

      I went to a religious middle school, and one time for chapel we had a performance by this guy who did kind of a martial arts-inspired dance while painting a giant canvas, and then at the very end of the song he flipped the canvas upside-down and it turned out to be a painting of Jesus. I hope it was like that.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I went to a non-religious high school in an area that used to have a lot of snow days. By law, you had to have school days tacked on to the end of the year to replace the snow days, even though those days were after final exams, so our school got… creative.

      At one point we had a whole-school assembly to watch the performance of a man riding a bicycle hooked up to a bunch of wheels/gears while new age music played.

      (At least, I think that actually happened. I had a bad reaction to the cold medicine I took that morning, so it’s possible it was a Dayquil-induced hallucination.)

  18. metadata minion*

    I would be mildly charmed by the pumpkin one and then baffled that he apparently didn’t actually care about it other than as a resume point.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Just reading the ads where everyone wants an enthusiastic employee wears me out!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I feel like this could have been on my CV at multiple stages. The clock resets, after all.

    1. Art3mis*

      That’s it, I’m going to start putting my number of Book It pizzas on my resume.

      1. Quill*

        Awards: Singlehandedly won Book It Pizza party for Mrs. Jones’ third grade class.

      2. Llama face!*

        Does that mean I can list on my resume that I was the sole reason my teacher had to put a limit on the number of times you could win the free pizza coupon for reading X number of books?

  19. hermioneme*

    When I was reviewing resumes, 3 stand out to me:

    1. A stay-at-home mom getting back into the workforce: under skills: “kissing boo-boo’s.” I hope she didn’t try to demonstrate this if she did get any interviews.
    2. “I have great attention to detale.” (Enough said.)
    3. Love working in a fast-paste environment. Note: When I showed this to our program director, she found a picture of Elmer’s paste and photo-shopped the words “fast paste” onto it. I think I still have this picture somewhere.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I dunno. Yeah, fast paste.

      Is that anything like someone who served as an office manger? I can’t recall how many resumes from mangers I saw over the years.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I once saw a resume that explained the gap between one job and the next as time the person taking “a hideous.” It took me a minute to realize they meant hiatus.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        I….is….I think that is perfection. May use it on my OOO message some day…

    3. MigraineMonth*

      As a software developer, I can confidently say that every job I’ve had was in a fast-paste environment.

      (There’s surprisingly little “writing code” in software development. It’s mostly “finding some code that works, copying it, and pasting it over here to solve this other problem”.)

  20. Juicebox Hero*

    No one who’s had 17 tequila shots the night before is going to be good for anything at work, even if they’re upright and breathing. Even when I was younger, one tequila shot would have rendered me useless the next day.

    1. Quill*

      I have had… not actually a job given that it was fieldwork for my major… but a role that was basically “be there with the first aid backpack on” and I don’t think I could have done it after a tequila shot.

        1. Quill*

          Probably, I was deeply horrified by the antics of my college cohort! TBH I think they made me the designated first aid person because not only could I not do much at the time beyond get to the field, I medically had to be sober…

    2. allathian*

      I don’t think I could’ve kept count of the shots after the first four… Drinking as many as 17 would’ve been totally impossible for me even when I was a young adult and spent most of my disposable income partying with my friends. Now I’m middle-aged and can’t drink even one shot of tequila without getting drunk.

    3. PresidentBob*

      For tequila, I’m one and done. and by done, throwing up in the bathroom. It does not agree with me. Tried a few times over the years to see if it was other factors. Nope.

      But 17 shots of anything? And alive, let alone going to work? Dylan Thomas would like a word.

  21. Insert User Name Here*

    My favourite resume bit was the candidate who started his resume with a truly glowing recommendation of the book he had had published. Why was this funny? The recommendation was written by the applicant, in the third person, about his own book.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Lol, yeah. I was killing time reading “About the Artist” blurbs on Spotify this morning. After a series of pretty objective but in-depth biographies/discographies, I got to TOTO’s. which doesn’t even say who the band members are, but does claim:

      “Few ensembles in the history of recorded music have individually or collectively had a larger imprint on pop culture than the members of TOTO…more than 200 Grammy nominations… literally thousands of credits, including the biggest selling album of all time… They are the benchmark by which many artists base their sound and production, and they continue to transcend the standards set by the entire music community, being simply synonymous with musical credibility…”

      –Posted by TOTO

      Yeah, I couldn’t possibly have guessed TOTO wrote that themselves.

  22. Dovasary Balitang*

    ‘From whence did this stranger come to us in our hour of need?’

    I wonder if they lost points for basically writing “from from”.

    1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

      Bell Hooks doesn’t capitalize the letters in her name, so my brain immediately went to her.

      1. amoeba*

        And then I recently learned that it’s at least assumed E. E. Cummings never actually meant to write his name in lower case, but that “trend” was created by his editors while he preferred the “normal” version…

    2. BlueberryGirl*

      Listen, if you’re e.e. cummings you can get away with this. Otherwise, I have concerns.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      Options include:
      A) e.e. cummings/bell hooks.
      B) Member of a particular evangelical group responsible for the “HE>i” stickers.
      C) Someone who is going to want you to call their significant other “Master.”

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      OH my God I was so annoyed the second I read that. I have a special allergy to the type who tries that hard to be “interesting.” They never know the difference between that word and “annoying.”

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        That’s an interesting (and polite) version of John Scalzi’s rule, which is “The failure mode of ‘clever’ is ‘a******e’.”

      1. Catfish Mke*

        I’m still surprised nobody has mentioned South Parks Mr Hat!! The hand puppet of third grade teacher Mr Garrison

  23. Myrin*

    I am oddly charmed by the puppeteer and the allergic cat owner. Quite disappointed regarding the pumpkin, though – what a letdown.

    1. Blue Ribbon Programmer*

      I have a county fair blue ribbon that is actually relevant to my work, but I still wouldn’t put it on my resume. This is because I was probably the only one who ever entered a computer program into the county fair.

    2. Danish*

      Same. Puppet resume was like… is professional standard? No. But it was a creative job for children so… she was at least trying to show her qualifications!

  24. Curious*

    #29 said resume number 3 (Miss BDSM) almost got an interview for a non-attorney position at a law firm. Was that a suggestion that masochism might be good preparation for that role?

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Maybe they thought a dominatrix could whip the office into shape!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I kind of feel bad for her not getting an interview. It sounds like that role might have been busy enough to take up her entire year.

      1. Fíriel*

        Yeah seems like a lose-lose scenario for Miss BDSM – either she has a yearlong unexplained gap on her resume or she admits to being Miss BDSM and doesn’t get an interview despite being otherwise qualified.

        1. Nameo*

          Came to the comments looking for this! A lot of pageant winners get salaries and full-time job duties while they hold the title. What’s poor Miss BDSM to do :(

          1. Wolf*

            I had no idea those are paid positions! Where I’m from, they’re all like “red wine queen of upper Saale-Unstrut valley” and the duties are for one weekend and a few press photos for tourism ads.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Some are like that, but some are pretty intense, because the person is helping market to the public. (Statewide and nationwide are more likely to be this way than a small town’s Wheat Queen or such.)

      2. Goose*

        Came here to say similar. I hope that Miss BDSM’s only reason for not getting an interview had nothing to do with being Miss BDSM.

    3. RVA Cat*

      So we need to add “law firms” to Margaret Cho’s observations about Star Trek, Ren Faires and BDSM?

    4. Elarra Harper*

      Unfortunately for Miss BDSM, on the phone screen it came up that her required appearance schedule was not actually compatible with full time, in office work and her reign did not end for another few months.

  25. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 TMI dude :)
    #3 Could be amazing for the kids
    #8 WPM 20. Maybe for the looong German nouns; I found >70 characters in the name of a local government dept I had to contact.
    #16 Still obsessing about the size of his pumpkin when he was 12. Hmm.
    #32 “Enthusiasm (less than 1 year).” Lucky if enthusiasm lasts that long.
    #34 $0.5 Cheapskate. If you’re going to bribe, then go big

  26. Myrin*

    Ngl, while the page was loading, I only saw “the charismatic aura, the glowing tan” and thought incredulously that Alison was trying to sell us something and honestly did a little double take.

  27. Judy in BC*

    I’m at the office and laughed out loud at this more than a few times, haha!
    My colleagues did the same as I read them out

    You may get a few new followers!

  28. Addison DeWitt*

    As a former creative director in advertising, I can’t tell you how many people sent me a rubber duck with the headline “It’d be just ducky to work for you!” or the equivalent. Nope, not even in advertising should you try to be funny like that.

    People who got closer to what would get them a job, but still missed it, would make dummy ads—but for things that we’d never have as clients in a million years. No, condom ads do not show me how clever you are, one, because there’s no condom client in our market, condom makers don’t run a lot of ads, and they’re an easy sell because the benefits are, well, obvious. I’d have been much more impressed by someone making a clever ad for something totally boring, like oven cleaner.

    I had a standard letter I would send to the Ducky folks telling them what ad agencies would really be looking for (first, pick a career path, there’s no one individual looking for a possible writer, possible account exec, possible media planner). It was solid advice, but if I ever heard anything back, inevitably it was that my letter was really mean.

    1. The Terrible Tom*

      I feel like if any such pun has even a prayer of working, it’s got to be something that the recipient likes so much they don’t care that it was a gimmick. So you have to find an object that’s (1) an actually good pun, (2) an awesome little gift the particular recipient will love, and (3) hopefully somehow a little more relevant to the context than just like, “we’re meeting! this pun is about meeting!”

      You’ve gotta be pretty bold to take that challenge on.

      1. Addison DeWitt*

        Exactly right. You’re making yourself the product; better to show me what you can do with an actual product.

      2. RVA Cat*

        Now I’m picturing a rubber duck with a condom in its mouth as an application for Duck Club.

  29. The Terrible Tom*

    I wonder what the Venn diagram is between people who consider themselves extremely charismatic, and those who have no problem no-showing to an appointment…

    1. Lena K.*

      If you’re referring to #6, I was the person who submitted that – the unfortunate answer is that he simply didn’t have a ride to the office. Even if he’d been a better candidate, lack of reliable transportation would have been a deal breaker for us at the time.

      1. TJ Morrison*

        I wonder why he didn’t stand on the side of the road and charisma his way into town.

  30. raincoaster*

    Just in case anyone IS hiring a top-tier agent of chaos, I can be reached at this username at gmail!

  31. BloopBloopBloop*

    15: I grew up in a fundamentalist Catholic community where one of our in-community leaders also made a big show out of writing “i” out in lowercase. Her reasoning was that since we capitalize the pronouns of the deity (He, Him, etc), it’s disrespectful to put any other pronouns on the same level by capitalizing them. She would even painstakingly make the first word of the sentence lowercase if that sentence happened to start with a non-godly pronoun.

    1. BlueberryGirl*

      Wow, that’s… a choice. I can see that in specific context, but in every day life, that’s just bound to be confusing as crud to people.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        As a lapsed RC, I do have to say that Jesuits wouldn’t put up with that nonsense.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          For Jesuits it’s the definition of “fightin’ words,” I would think.

    2. Editrix*

      I proofread a website for someone selling his professional services as a speaker which had his name in lower case throughout.
      He said his web designer had told him it showed humility.
      I screamed.

    3. Beth*

      I take some comfort in learning that the lower-case i is used by anyone who is not the sub in a 24/7 BDSM relationship, which is what I had assumed.

  32. Raida*

    For an admin role that got over 140 applications:

    They started out by saying to ignore any spelling errors, as they could not find the spellcheck.


    For a role which listed Word as a required software they needed skills in, for a role that would include a lot of written communication, for a role that was an admin for the technology director and the directorate!
    You can’t google? You can’t hit ‘help’?

    1. pope suburban*

      I worked with someone like that and…yeah. Her whole job was to be the assistant to a notoriously flaky department head, who claimed (wrongly) that he was just too busy to ever respond to emails or phone calls. When I hadn’t gotten her onboarding paperwork, I called her to ask about it and she informed me that she “didn’t really use email.” Great start. Her emails were riddled with errors even though when I checked her computer, spellcheck and grammar check were turned on. She wouldn’t hear any feedback, and would misspell words that were right in the email, and often in the subject line. Imagine the confidence millionaires feel when the specialty construction firm they trust with tens of thousands of dollars of wine (and millions of dollars worth of property) sends them emails where their names are spelled wrong, every sentence is a fragment, and they hear that their bill is “payed.” She was a total disaster and she fully short-circuited my brain on several occasions. She did not last long. This was something of a relief.

    1. Miette*

      What gets me is that he couldn’t have winged an answer to it, how hard is ad libbing something like “Oh, it taught me how personally fulfilling seeing a personal goal through is, an experience that has stayed with me even now, 30+ years later.”

      There–I came up with that in about a second, so wtf Mr. 16?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Or just not bring it up! The interview was over, he hadn’t been asked about it, he was home free. This is like the bank robber going back to the bank he robbed to make sure they got a good picture of him.

  33. The Unfrazzled Project Manager*

    I actually KNOW someone who actually has won an Olympic bronze medal, but it’s not in one of the ‘exciting’ sports, and unless you have extremely niche hobbies and follow random Olympic sports and know who won medals from yearrrssss ago, you would not know this person’s name. I just texted and asked them if this was on their resume, and they responded, “LOL no- it was so long ago – why would I put that?”

    1. Art3mis*

      I would totally put an Olympic medal on my resume. If I had a real one. In any sport. Heck I have a friend that won Jeopardy once, I would put that on my resume too. She owns her own business and probably doesn’t need to, but still. Even if I didn’t recognize their name, I would think it would be kind of cool.

      1. The Unfrazzled Project Manager*

        I mean….I would too! But this person doesn’t really talk about the sporting part of their life. They no longer play the sport (It was literally like 30 years ago that they won! They are closer to retirement age than entry-level…), and their industry has nothing to do with sports of any kind. I feel like if I won one, I would wear it every day like jewelry. Literally, the only reason I know this fact about this person is they are a family friend, and it’s hard not to know this lore. They never talk about the sport, and if it comes up (rarely), their remarks are mild and normal. It did come up at bar trivia once, and we HELLA won that round. LOL!

      1. The Unfrazzled Project Manager*

        I have never seen that one- thanks for posting it! You know, I bet this is it “…it’s a human interest thing that lots of hiring managers will love to ask about.” Like I said, this person rarely talks about the sport or the Olympics- they said once that they did not want this one thing to become The Only Thing about them. They were not famous, even at the time- it was not like, gymnastics or ice skating, or a year where one team seems to get a lot of attention, so it’s not like Simone Biles or Michael Phelps not mentioning it. Like I said above, unless you are a superfan of something fairly niche, you probably would not know this person’s name. I would put it on my resume, though. It’s something to be proud of! I don’t think this person is not proud, but I do think they got burned out on The Sport for sure.

    2. Goose*

      One of my first ever teacher’s aides in school was a Paralympic Games silver and bronze medalist for swimming. Apparently she later became a swimming coach so I think she’d definitely put it on her resume :)

  34. Coffee Break*

    I was once handed an application form where the applicant had listed “Detective- paranormal investigator” in the Experience Section. This was for an admin job, in an office that had no (known) hauntings!

    1. Quill*

      Clearly they should have applied to one of the offices where black magic is a workplace hazard

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Like the one where the one employee was putting hexes on her coworkers, or Halloweentown, or the Mayan shaman boss.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The Mayan shaman boss letter had among the most creative solutions I’ve ever seen. Bizarre, but effective!

  35. Student*

    I didn’t submit this ine, because the part that drove me nuts wasn’t the resume, it was the response from other interviewers.

    Resume was for a physics position at a laboratory.

    Applicant had some reasonable physics experience.

    Applicant also had a hobbies section (why?!) that listed, among other things, “artisinal bread-making”. This was many years pre-pandemic, and it was not a particularly common hobby then, but also not unheard-of. There is zero link between bread-making and our lab’s niche within physics, to be clear.

    The reasoning from other panel members to bring applicant in for an interview: the bread-making.

    The main (but not only) thing he got asked about in interviews by our panelists: bread-making.

    The main point of discussion in the post-interview debrief about him: if we hire him, he might bring in bread to the office. There was little to no discussionof his physics qualifications. Note that my fellow panelists were all making 6 figure salaries, could afford food, and further, could afford to buy artisinal bread if they so pleased. Access was no issue: we had nice local bakeries for them to patronize.

    Applicant did not get a job offer. None of the people on the panel who wanted his bread had taken any notice of his relevant skills, so they couldn’t make a strong case for hiring him.

    I was so annoyed by the bread-related distraction he’d caused among my colleagues that I wouldn’t have advocated for him even if he were the next Einstein.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Baking is my hobby and I never put it on a resume! Too gendered.

      Also, I bring in baked goods based on who is likely to be around.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      I’d say that’s waaaaaay more on your panel than on the applicant. It was a factoid on a resume; THEY blew it up.

  36. Nanc*

    16 – Is pumpkin guy Almanzo Wilder? Was it a milk-fed pumpkin? Did he try to get out of admitting it was milk-fed to the judges right in front of Father? (see Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder). I would have asked the candidate!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am so glad I’m not the only one who jumped straight to Farmer Boy on reading that one.

  37. FormerManager*

    #8. “Once had a candidate write, ‘Strong typing skills,’ followed by, ‘WPM: 20.’”

    I really hope this was a typo and it should have read “120” which would be incredibly ironic!!

  38. Elizabeth H*

    I love “From whence did this stranger come to us in our hour of need?” tbh I want to start using it

  39. Daisy-dog*

    #4 – no words. Do they not know the first rule of espionage is not to tell people you’re doing espionage?

  40. Sassy SAAS*

    I received a few really weird resumes working in the live events industry… Some of the best were:
    -a full poem included with the resume
    -skills such as “near/far vision, hand and finger dexterity, automate and control, verbal communication, hearing” and several other skills that I could only equate to a physically able toddler. And I still don’t know what things “automate” or “control” referenced.
    -a movie script included with the resume
    -a reference to a recent “safe driving” certification… that lead to a google search that informed me that the applicant had flipped a semi truck on an exit ramp
    -bonus: on a phone call where I was vetting one of these people, the applicant informed me that he had been working in the industry longer than I’d been alive. He was moved to the “Never hire” pile.

    These were for jobs in a warehouse or doing very basic manual labor on event productions… The movie script got a dramatic reading in our lunchroom.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      -a reference to a recent “safe driving” certification… that lead to a google search that informed me that the applicant had flipped a semi truck on an exit ramp

      Honestly, the sheer chutzpah would have me considering this one for a second. I wouldn’t hire them, but wow.

  41. Wilbur*

    The only time I want to see something Olympics related on a resume would be for Elizabeth Swaney, who managed to represent Hungary in 2018 despite being very mediocre at halfpipe skiing. She displayed incredible perseverance and wit to get to the Olympics and created one of the most memorable Olympic moments ever. Do yourself a favor, watch her run and admire the professionalism of the announcers. 13/10

    1. Catfish Mke*

      For a similar and almost more ridiculous tale see Eddie the Eagle representing the UK in the 1988 ski jump.

  42. LOL*

    This did not happen to me personally but to my former boss. I.worked for a company which provided speech language therapy services. Speech Language Pathologists need a minimum of a Masters, pass board exams, internship etc to even enter what is a highly competitive and in demand field. We had a job advertised and someone with zero of these qualifications applied. when turned down and informed of these facts they argued “But I talk to people all of the time….”

  43. ecnaseener*

    Ha, I’m told #15 is a tried-and-true tactic for dating profiles, “ask me about [insert harmless quirk here]!” Makes sense, hand people a free opening line to make it easier to message you — sadly it doesn’t really translate to job hunting.

  44. CVs Galore*

    I was entertained by a CV from a recent grad who described themself as an “ambiguous engineer” (I think “ambitious” is what they were going for). It came via a recruiter, and while it wouldn’t have stopped me interviewing them (which we didn’t do for other reasons), that plus another obvious error did make me think poorly of the recruiter – I don’t expect or want recruiters to be rewriting CVs, but I do think they should ask candidates they are representing to fix any obvious errors.

    My now-husband included “organised piss up in a brewery” in his CV when looking for his first graduate role (having arranged a brewery tour for a student club). I don’t think that version got him any interviews, but don’t remember for sure. I think the hiring manager for the job he got would have found it amusing, but it likely wouldn’t have made it through the HR pre-screen.

  45. I Submitted Number 15*

    Oh! I forgot to mention – the position “ask me why the pronoun ‘i’ can never be capitalized!” candidate was going for? English as a foreign language instructor. I’m all about playing with language, but uh, time and place, my guy.

    Also notable about this resume: there was a Percussion section that listed all the instruments he could play. Djembe and knucklebones(?) were on there, if I remember correctly.

  46. EJR*

    I missed my chance to add one! I was once hiring for an entry-level attorney position at a state agency. One cover letter stated, “I was actually disbarred several years ago but would be willing to seek reinstatement for this position.” COOL.

  47. Parakeet*

    I, er, definitely put something that was cringey in the same way as (7), the same “I will bring my overdeveloped masochistic sense of responsibility to you” energy, in my PhD program application statements of interest. I opened the statement with a story about how when I was first author on a paper during my master’s program, I was so dedicated to presenting it at an international conference that I biked two miles in a typhoon, on a rented bike, from the bed & breakfast where I was staying to the conference venue. While wearing a suit (with a raincoat over it). This was meant to illustrate in a memorable way how conscientious and dedicated to research I was.

    I did get into a good program and got fellowships. And fortunately my advisor was a kindly senior scholar, his reputation established decades earlier, who never took advantage of my weird ideas of responsibility even though I’d blatantly spelled them out right there in the application.

  48. Danish*

    “Enthusiasm less than one year” is great, but I can underatand why they might phrase it that way! I’m currently job hunting and under requirements one had “1 year of: ability to screenshot”

  49. Head sheep counter*

    I worked in a reptile pet store and that job lived on my resume far longer than it needed too… because…. it sure caught the eye. Am tempted some days to put it back on there… but I think 20+ year old retail experience… is unlikely to get me the response I might like.

  50. Cybersecurity Expert*

    * ‘I probably know more than management does about INDUSTRY TOPIC’ in the ‘about me’ section, applying for a job in which he had no education or experience (cybersecurity, did not get an interview).

    “I have personally had my data stolen no less than 28 times.”

  51. Hastor*

    I once worked in Support on software that included the ability to run your company’s career page, collect resumes, etc. Our support once got a case from a customer asking why one of the options in their ‘skills’ dropdown was ‘kissing ass’. They’d even had 3 or 4 candidates choose it (all rated themselves at the lowest skill level for it on a scale).
    After investigation, we found that it used to be a ‘type anything’ field rather than a dropdown, when they had our company turn it into a dropdown, they populated it will all previous responses including deleted ones. We were able to determine an internal employee added it and deleted it 2 minutes later, maybe just showing someone the system. We did emphasize that the employee couldn’t have foreseen this, and I don’t think they got in trouble.
    It was pretty hilarious though!

    1. Expelliarmus*

      OMG that’s wild! I thought if you turned a field into a dropdown it would just choose from a set list that you provide; I had no idea this was possible lol!

  52. Aspiring Ansel Adams*

    Mid-40s man in tech listed ‘grew largest pumpkin at the county fair, won a blue ribbon.’ His resume was otherwise excellent, so he got an interview.

    The employer queried how this is relevant to the job. Assuming it’s listed under a hobbies/interests section, the point is that it shows a record of achievement and an accomplishment-oriented mindset. I have an “interests” section on my resume, but I don’t list “photography”; I list “photography: sold 10+ photos.”

    1. Matth3w2*

      Do you include “won first place in my 7th grade school photography show?” Because I think that’s more akin to this person including a line about his award winning pumpkin

  53. Matth3w2*

    ‘From whence did this stranger come to us in our hour of need?’

    Look at me, worrying that I am overselling myself in my application materials

  54. ThatOtherClare*

    I like to imagine that most of these people writing highly questionable resumes are actually secret agents under deep cover. Perhaps they need plausible ‘what are you doing with your life?’ cover for friends and family, but can’t risk accidentally becoming employed because they need their ‘job hunting’ time to do their real jobs. Hence ‘I sent out 15 applications today!’, where the ‘applications’ are just ‘HIRE ME’ written in calligraphy.

  55. The Netherlands - it's not that bad*

    No. 23, ‘looks good in white’, that is such a Joan Holloway line!

  56. Anonforthis*

    I used to put my cats’ names, Angus McFluffington and Leeloo Dallas Muffinbutt, on my resume. While in retrospect it probably wasn’t a good idea to put a name with the word “butt” on it in a professional resume, I did have a former manager tell me that it made me instantly memorable. It took me a year to get a position at that company and he was the manager for both the first job I interviewed for an the position I ultimately got, so I guess it worked in my favor.

  57. MamaMingo*

    My favorite is the candidate for an IT internship who listed that he was “Time’s Person of the Year” in 2006, which happened to be “You”. He didn’t get the job, but I’ve never heard the hiring manager laugh so loud!

    1. PresidentBob*

      I’ve read that it was a pretty common add to resumes in the few years afterward. Might be more hearsay than truth, though.

  58. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    Why does your phone battery being “at like 5%” make you sound like “truly a top-tier agent of chaos”? or am I missing something? is it the failure to crop the screenshot?
    I mean, I don’t usually let mine get down to 5% but I know people who do and they are not at all agents of chaos.

  59. Mrs. Weaver*

    I would desperately love to know if anyone reading this list is one of the people on the list. “Holy moly, that’s me!” So if anyone here IS on the list, will you fess up, or hide away your past cover letters and resumes?

  60. Anonforthis*

    One resume stated, under prior experience, “Ethical removal of terrorists.” (He’d been a military drone operator.)

  61. Cat Lady*

    Slightly off-topic, but I’m loving the uptick in reader-sourced lists of wacky work stories that I’ve been seeing on AAM lately! Please keep this format up, they’re so much fun to read.

  62. Lizbrarian*

    I would say #19 might have been attempting humor, but I don’t think people should try and be humorous on a resume.


    long time lurker, first time commenter because I still think about this every time we recruit for an open role.

    we received a multi-page resume from a candidate who had vaguely relevant experience, but the highlight was a sidebar on the page with an “inspirational” quote, credited to HIMSELF.

  64. PresidentBob*

    Re: #26
    Elsewhere I posted about a community theatre auditionee (and temporary castmember) who faked all her roles, but I’m also going to anecote about my time “working” with Rocky Horror. In my area at the time, there were three shadowcasts (those of us who put on the show in costumes with props in front of the movie as it plays). I was director of one, and on the other; and even if I wasn’t, we are all in contact, it’s a strong community. Anyway, it’s wild how many people would claim they were on one of the other casts when asking to join our groups. Not only are most casts pretty open, and therefore don’t need to lie; we always need more bodies, but it’s so easily verifiable. The reason I link this to #26 is, as a member of multiple casts, I’d have people claim to have my role when joining. “I was Brad on x cast until last month”. Dude, you aren’t – I’m Brad on that cast and have been for years. Once I had someone claim they were the director of the other cast when joining the one I was just a castmember on. Big pull there man, and, again, that’s my job.

  65. Cat*

    Re: 28
    I too wanted to leave a job because of a boss named Barbara I know this person wasn’t me because I never would put that answer on an application but whoever you are, I get it.

  66. Kesnit*


    While this is probably NOT what the applicant was thinking, this brought to mind the saying that “the best defense attorneys are former prosecutors and the best prosecutors are former defense attorneys.”

    I am a prosecutor who used to be a defense attorney, and I can say that thinking like the other side is really helpful when it comes to trial prep. I can review a case, think what I would argue if I were defense counsel, and then decide how to address the arguments I would make.

  67. Lynx*

    I received a resume once that looked great! I called her, and she was ENRAGED that I contacted her, said she knew nothing about the business, demanded to know what job it was for, and then hung up on me. Then she called BACK and said her husband had done a resume for her and submitted it and could I tell her about the job? At this point, I was too invested; I had to know what was going on even if I’d never hire her. So I told her what the job was… and she yelled at me and hung up on me again!

    I wonder why her husband wanted her out of the house so badly?

    A different time, I was hiring for a front desk/admin position. I had a resume that looked great. She came in wearing flip flops and jean shorts. When asked why she was interested in the position, she said, “I just want a job where I don’t really have to think.”

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