Your Resumé is Causing Hiring Companies to Laugh at You

You know that companies are laughing at you right now, don’t you? It’s true. For a variety of reasons, you shoot for the moon and hope for the stars and hope that someone will be stupid enough to hire you. Why? Lots of reasons but it boils down to five main reasons.

You Didn’t Read the Job Requisition

It’s true. I get resumés all the time for positions at b5media and it’s apparent that the job posting and requirements were not read. It’s nice that you have 8 years of Java/J2EE experience, but if we are soliciting for a PHP developer, your experience doesn’t matter to me.

My Advice: Read through the job posting. If you feel like you have comparable experience, then apply. What do I mean? I mean that Java positions and .NET positions, while they are good experience for many companies, do not compare with people who do web scripting. This is a completely different ballgame and requires a different set of skills. If I ask for a PHP developer, I may be willing to talk to an ASP or Ruby developer. You’ll have to convince me, though, on Java or .NET. Likewise, if I advertise for a Linux engineer, we are looking for a semblance of Unix/Linux experience. Windows Server 2003 is helpful in some environments, but we know that you’re not qualified for a Linux position if the only server experience you have is in a Windows environment.

You Cite an MCSE as a Qualification

Many companies do still want MCSE’s. I’m not quite sure why because it’s a piece of paper that demonstrates no real world experience. Companies are more impressed by demonstrated experience in your environment than a piece of paper that only demonstrates that you had the wherewithal and money to buy a piece of paper.

MCSE means nothing in the real world. It’s great that you have an understanding of Active Directory. But can you make Active Directory dance? Have you transitioned from competent Active Directory admin to Active Directory ninja? Can you document verifiable accomplishments.

My Advice: Make sure that you can provide bullet point accomplishments. Your accomplishments are more worthwhile to a hiring manager than your piece of paper. Make me see that you are qualified for the position you applied for – don’t just tell me you are.

Your Resumé is Irrelevant

One thing I’ve learned from doing my share of job searches is to have a relevant resume for every sector you want to work in. As a hiring manager, I really don’t want to see how much help desk support you have if I’m recruiting for a development job. It’s obvious you are too lazy to actually tell me why I should hire you. In these cases, I delete your resume. I don’t hold on to it for further consideration later. I don’t pass it on to other hiring managers that might be able to use your skillset.

My Advice: Stay relevant. Tell the hiring manager why he should hire you with a resumé that is pertinent to the job you’re applying for. Include a cover letter that is sufficiently balanced between formal and informal so that the manager can read and have a good understanding of who you are outside of your resumé. I personally have three different slightly different resumés. I have one for development, one for systems and one for management. Take your time when applying and send the right one.

You Don’t Know Who You’re Talking To

In most cases, the company that is hiring has identified themselves. You have Google. You have blog searching. You have a variety of different ways of finding out about the company you are applying to. But you don’t use any of these tools. You don’t even find out what the company’s corporate website is. You haven’t taken the time to do your homework and find out if this is the kind of company you actually want to work for. Your laziness has been demonstrated once again.

For instance, at b5media, we make no secret that we are a blog network and that we’re proudly powered by WordPress. While having a blog and using WordPress are not things we require of our employees, it sure is nice if the candidate knows what blogs and WordPress are. It’s sort of important for our business.

My Advice: Use the tools at your disposal to formulate your resumé. Find out who you’re applying to. If you want to apply at b5media, you should probably know what a blog is. On a technical level, understanding of WordPress is fairly important. Make sure that if you’re applying as a junior developer at a non-profit organization, chances are you’re going to end up with junior developer pay with senior developer responsibilities and experience. Know who you’re dealing with before you go in.

Your Resumé is longer than two pages and Is Filled with Fluff

Yes, contrary to popular belief, we hiring managers expect that if you list every technology in the book, that you are able and willing to use them. However, we also know when people are stuffing their resumés with keywords. I know you were taught to do this by employment coaches and universities instructing you on how to search for a job. It’s really a bunch of hogwash though because we know. Let me repeat that: We Know!

We’re also not impressed by long resumés. We don’t have time to go through 4 pages of fluff to see if we can find the stuff we need to know in your resumé. It’s not a good way to win brownie points with me if you’re wasting my time.

My Advice: Recognize that very few people know everything and that you’re probably not the exception to the rule. It’s okay! Really! I’m not impressed by know-it-all’s anyways. However, your ability to distill a job requisition and figure out what we need to know without making us tell you is a good sign. You can get a lot of mileage out of a relatively short resumé that actually does hit the keywords we are looking for. (Hint: Refer to point #4 for helpful information gathering tips).

See? It’s important for your future and career to understand these points. I’m betting if more people understood these things, unemployment would be lower and you’d have a job that you really love. We want to hire those kinds of people. We want to hire you if you become that guy (or girl). It takes some effort but whoever thought that having a perfect situation without putting out the effort should be the norm, was smoking something.

At b5media, we want to hire the best of the best. Mark Jaquith and Brian Layman were both hired because they really fit everything I said above. Plus, it was easy to know about them because they blog, they use and develop on WordPress, they have the skillsets we needed for their positions.

Chad was hired because he has a reputation as a great ad sales guy and thats what he does.

I was hired, not because I have an MCSE (I don’t!) or a Computer Science degree from University of Maryland (again, I don’t even have a degree), but because I understood the company, the technology and the platform – all very critical for my job.

We have several tech jobs available right now. We’re hiring a Systems Engineer with Unix and architecture experience. This is not a gig, it’s full time, so if you’re not ready to quit your job, don’t apply. We’re hiring a support person, ideally in Toronto, but open to virtual support too. This is for blogger and channel editor support. It does require an understanding of WordPress.

I really want to find the right people, so if you are the right person and you can meet the above points, send me your resume at aaron [at] b5media [dot] com. :-)

7 Replies to “Your Resumé is Causing Hiring Companies to Laugh at You”

  1. Most of the job applicants are gambling by applying to positions they do not qualified. I bet they do not read the requirements. They just apply to all positions they want.. :( I personally do not laugh at them.. They just piss me off by wasting my time


  2. Can I also add…from a design/readability angle, the following are real-world examples (stuff people actually mailed to me) that will get your resume tossed into the “Not In A Million Years” file…or passed among co-workers to mock.

    1. Do not use colored paper with clouds printed on it. Just don’t do it.

    2. Spell your name correctly. Trust me on this. Same with your contact info — make sure it’s correct.

    3. As Aaron mentioned above, make sure your resume is relevant to the job you’re applying for. A cool, edgy resume is great if you’re applying for a design position, not so great if you’re applying for a business-side position. You don’t want to appear flaky and strange. Designers = Strange. Business Manager = Stable, money guy.

    4. Please, for the love of God, do not SCENT your resume with something that smells like a gas station bathroom and say “That’s the smell of money” in your cover letter. THAT, O Applicant, is the sound of your resume being tossed out of a third-story window so we can get away from the stench.

    5. Nobody cares where you went to elementary school.

  3. Sadly enough, while an MCSE – along with that snazzy MBA – may supposedly mean nothing in the real world, I’ve seen far too many people hired on as a result of those high-priced handy wipes. I’ve seen far too many arrogant Master’s degree-holding hucksters floundering over the simplest of projects.

    Our CIO is unduly impressed with paper to such a degree (rimshot) that he’s crippled our IT department with losers who can’t plan their way out of a paper sack and have work ethics that’re only slightly better than Paris Hilton’s. These folks spend more time mapping out their next career move than they think about what work has to be done before their next Starbucks latte break.

    Real-world experience matters only to those of us who’re beyond Gen-X and actually in the trenches doing the day-to-day, keep-the-organization-running tasks.

  4. Your comments were very interesting and support my view that most people simply do not understand the real purpose of a resume and therefore do not produce resumes that are useful or relevant.

    I’m with you on the useless paper proving nothing about one’s ability or intelligence. I face this prejudice all the time because I don’t have (nor do I intend to ever get) a PMP (Project Management Professional certification). I have a track record of over 800 projects successfully delivered beyond my clients’ expectations. That alone should tell someone I KNOW what I am doing. And for those who just don’t get it and are afraid to interview because I don’t have a PMP after my name… well, I probably wouldn’t want to work with you anyway. Some minds are just too small to be worth my time.

    I’ve seen a lot of bad resumes in my time but, thankfully, no clouds or perfumed paper! You have my sympathies on that score!

    Linda M. Lopeke

  5. To quote you below:

    I was hired, not because I have an MCSE (I don’t!) or a Computer Science degree from University of Maryland (again, I don’t even have a degree), but because I understood the company, the technology and the platform – all very critical for my job.

    It is not so easy going to college, studying your ass off not to mention spending a lot of money on student loans (unless you have rich parents or scholarships) and to know that your resume is going to be laughed at by some person who chose not to take the time to earn his degree. You have a lot of hard working people who are single parents, work full time and yet try and get that degree so they can make a better life for their family. Not all of us land that perfect job where education doesn’t make a bit of difference. Most of us never get that break because of not having a degree to show people that we did our time in the educational system.

    You can have the working knowledge, study a company and know their technology and platform, but that doesn’t mean you are more qualified and I can tell you from first hand experience, an employer will hire someone who has a degree over someone who doesn’t unless the job requirements are flexible in that area.

    One person’s opinion on a resume doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) should revamp my resume just so you (and some of the other posters) won’t pass it around the office to make fun of. That is just immature and stupid and any company who acts like that should be added to the “I will never apply to these places” list.

  6. I keep a several page resumé which I trim down to a reasonable length to fit the position I am applying to; I’m glad I’ve been doing it the right way.

    I couldn’t agree more that experience is more important than certifications and degrees. Recently, I volunteered at a local organization to develop a PHP/Javascript web-based application, but the “bosses” gave it to a programmer who had had several degrees and a pile certifications — even though most of his experience was in Java/.net — and I was only supposed to help ensure it had the correct functionality and operated smoothly for the end users.

    However, I ended up spending my time cringing every few minutes and having to walk the programmer through some very basic programming concepts. In the end, the project took several months and ended up being mediocre at best, and all the issues I tried to help him prevent flooded to the forefront when it went live.
    The same project should have been finished in a fraction of that time and most of the issues would have been solved if the bosses chose experience over degrees.

    Oh an as an aside, for all the English majors and Grammar Nazis in the world, thank you for not spelling it resume.

  7. I think researching the company you are submitting your resume to is one of the most overlooked ways to gain an easy advantage over other applicants. I’ve had interviews for jobs in the past where I had done that research and was hired because the employer was impressed that I had taken the interest in the job and the company. Time spent “massaging” a resume would be put to much better use preparing yourself for an interview by doing your homework!

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