A friend of mine was trying to help an acquaintance of hers get a new job. She sent me her résumé for my suggestions, or better yet, to see if I might want to hire her. I read the short résumé of the 50-year-old lady and cringed. She claimed at the top of the document that she increased corporate sales by 11.7% and cash flow by 3.4%.
As a boss I read those numbers and the word “bogus” flashed before my eyes. A person in an estimating job like this woman had, should not boast that she raised sales or cash flow by a precise amount. She may have been part of a team that helped improve business, but to attribute a statistically precise number to your work achievement is ridiculous and impossible because a business is a team effort.
As an owner and company president of a small business with a dozen employees I cannot accurately quantify my own achievement or failure. I also know that financial documents are accounting concoctions even when they are conscientiously put together.
So when I see a résumé, and I have seen a ton of them, that has canned language like “detail oriented” or “self-driven” on top of precise statistics that do not jibe with my view of the messy reality of business I recoil.
This lady who is searching to better herself has fallen into the trick bag of corporate gibberish. She will never pull herself out of the job quicksand by doing what she thinks everybody else does. In my world, sending out a résumé of dubious statistics and clichés is a sure losing strategy.
When my friend asked me what I would recommend this lady do, I paused to consider it because I did not want to come off as an arrogant jerk.
This is my honest advice. Be like George Costanza in one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. As usual life was going badly for poor George so one day he decided to do everything the opposite of his normal instinct. He then landed his dream job with the New York Yankees after ridiculing George Steinbrenner.
For the woman who asked me for advice about her resume, I would recommend she make a YouTube video and look straight into the camera and say something like this:
“I’m 50 years old with a lifetime of practical business experience. I am a smart and good person, a caring mother and I get along with the people I work with. I show up every day and give my job my all. I am not a superstar, but I am the kind of productive team player that I’ve found most businesses need.”
I think many employers would react favorably to this approach. It definitely would be better than phony percentages and “innovative, detail oriented” blah, blah, blah.
Question: Would you rather hire an A player who is a prima donna or a B player who is a joy to work with?