details

Undecided if something should go on your resume? Add more detail for guidance.

April 11, 2012 Resumes 2 comments , , , ,

Convential Wisdom has it that resumes have to be written in the most clipped, stilted business-speak possible.  It’s not true.  Thinking that way is a disservice to our resumes and our job prospects.

A poster on Reddit asked how proficient he should be in German before listing it on his resume. You can see where he’s coming from. He’s wondering if he can add a “Languages spoken: German” bullet point to his resume, and that’s good. The problem is that the clipped business-speak mentality has him thinking that that’s all he can say.

You can and should add detail to your resume. The more detail you add, the less chance there is for misinterpretation, and it helps you think more about your skills and how you can sell them to the reader.

I suggest that instead of putting an overly terse “Languages spoken: German”, you add a sentence giving details. This might be, for example:

  • I am fluent in written and spoken German, and have been for the past 20 years.
  • I have conversational fluency with spoken German.
  • I know some German words I picked up from my Grandma.

If in the process of writing the details of your skill you find that it sounds silly, then you’ve answered your question as to whether it should be on your resume.  To be clear, that last bullet item isn’t worth putting on your resume.

This process works with any item you want to put on a resume.  As you add detail, does it still sound like it’s worth putting on there?  If not, leave it off.  If it is, work with that detail to grab the reader’s attention.

Programmers struggle with this all the time.  “How much Ruby do I have to know before I can put it on my resume?”  Add detail to answer your own question.  If you’re not going to be comfortable asking the question “How have you used Ruby?” in the interview, then don’t put it on a resume.

Finally, always remember why you have a resume: A resume exists to get the reader to call you in for an interview.  If something isn’t going to make the reader say “We need to get her in here ASAP”, then leave it off.

Don’t try to make things on your résumé sound more interesting than they are.

July 6, 2011 Job hunting No comments , ,

Did you work a cash register at one of your jobs? Then say that in your résumé and move on. Don’t try to make it sound more exciting than it really is.

If you try to fluff it up and make it sound “more businessy” or “more resume-friendly” than it is, the person reading the résumé will just roll her eyes. Maybe she’ll laugh at you, or call someone over and say “Hey, this guy worked a register and called it ‘Accounting for legal tender’! Ha ha!” We know when you’re trying to fool us, and we think it’s both funny and insulting.

Now, if your cash handling is a key component to your background, perhaps because you’re working to be a cashier at a casino, then by all means, play it up, by giving specifics: “Handled over $50,000 per shift with zero short/over”. That way you’re showing the scope of your responsibilities. But if you’re looking for a sysadmin position? Don’t bother.

A résumé is about telling a company about what you’ve done that will help them decide that you’re worth bringing in for an interview. Don’t try to BS us in the process.