This is one of those articles where I talk about how things are, and then talk how things would be in an ideal world, but then -- because we live in
This is one of those articles where I talk about how things are, and then talk how things would be in an ideal world, but then — because we live in this world — where I have to sadly come back to the original point.
Today’s discussion: Resumes. And a new report that says Gen Z in particular is doing something strange, self-defeating, but oddly understandable with them.
We do a lot of weird things on resumes, by common agreement:
- We write about ourselves in incomplete sentences, without pronouns: “Achieved 300% growth year over year.”
- We use present participles that just hang out there like fragments, begging for a subject to own them: “Interfacing with key stakeholders both internally and among client decision-makers.”
- Oh, and word choices: We keyword-stuff some of our descriptions so as to hit every hot-button term we think an artificial intelligence bot will think is useful, even if it makes the whole thing look like gobbledygook to a normal human reader.
We write, in short, in a weird construction of language that we would never use in person.
At least, I hope not.
That’s why it makes sense, from a very human, 21st century point of view, that younger job applicants are trying to upend the resume game and stand out.
A new report in The Wall Street Journal says Gen Z is adding dashes of color and even photographs to resumes, along with things like a “by the numbers” section, or even bitmoji to the digital versions.
In short, they’re supposedly making resumes look less like resumes, and more like, dare we say: “Instagram–and sometimes even Tinder,” as the report puts it.
Do not get me wrong. There is something appealing and admirable about these off-the-wall resumes. However, they don’t seem to work.
As an example, an employer quoted in the article said he liked the flair he saw when an applicant included an avatar of himself sweating. It suggested he was willing to hustle.
Good attribute. The only problem: “The applicant didn’t land the job.”
At a high school in Indiana, an applicant sent a digital resume that included a bitmoji waving and saying, “hi.” The applicant didn’t get hired.
(“There’s a freaking bitmoji on the resume,” a school official said.)
More examples from the WSJ:
Hiring managers say they are seeing resumes in Instagram-friendly palettes of mint green and pastel pink. Some come spiral-bound like full-color corporate brochures.
Others feature elaborate illustrations of half empty–or is it half full?–glasses, representing a candidate’s experience with Microsoft Excel or their organizational skills.
One recent applicant for a marketing and communications position at Jeni’s included a moody black-and-white photo of the job seeker in a cafe, overlaid with personal details, including “spin aficionado, dog lover, foodie, outdoor enthusiast.”
So here’s my advice, as someone who has had more than 17 different jobs in about a 20-year professional career since college (several simultaneously), and done a good bit of hiring as well.
The rules are the rules. Unless you’re in a very creative industry in which boundary breaking is a clear advantage, you’re much better off staying within the bumpers in terms of resume format, but showing your personality and excellence through other means.
Pro tip, at the risk of getting off on a tangent: Write a book about what you do.
I don’t care if it’s self-published and just 120 pages.
You will absolutely stand out if you’re applying for a job in say, advertising sales, and you can say: “I literally wrote a book called Kick Butt and Take Names as an Ad Sales Wizard.”
If you’re applying to be an associate finance director at a startup, be the one applicant who has literally written a book (again, even self-published) called, How to Build and Run a Finance Department: a 365-Day Guide to Success.
Look, I do agree that resumes are kind of stodgy. If I ran the zoo, so to speak, we’d redesign them.
But I don’t run the zoo, and neither do you. That’s why resumes are the kind of thing where you have to learn the rules — and show that you can follow them — before you’re allowed to break them.
So stick with the stodgy to some extent.
And then just use your boringly formatted resume as a way to get in the door, where you can show how you really stand out.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
This article is from Inc.com