Some Unconventional Resume Tips


Last summer on the blog Punk Rick HR, a blogger identified as a Laurie answered some questions she frequently receives about resumes. Some of her answers align with standard advice that many experts give, while others are iconoclastic. Today, the more iconoclastic answers, with our commentary below each:
If your last two jobs are unrelated to one another, or unrelated to your current job search, you need an objective statement on your resume. I don’t know what you want to do. Tell me in fewer than 25 words and get out of the way. Let me see what you’ve done.
Objective statements are currently out of fashion with most hiring decision-makers, but a sharp focus to your resume is always in fashion, especially, as Laurie notes, when your career path does not point to an obvious next step. The most popular current way to tell the reader what you want to do (and what you’re good at) is with a headline and branding statement. And — an objective statement can work as long as it’s brief, well-written, specific, and not self-serving.
I don’t need the month, day, and year of your employment. A year is fine (e.g., 2004-2008). You can add the month. I don’t care. What we’re really looking for is a huge gap in employment that says drug addiction, serially unemployed, or loser who quits his job in a huff because he thinks he’s too good to work.
We don’t know any hiring decision-makers who want to see the day your employment began and ended, but most do want to see months rather than just years. Why? Because there’s a big difference between having worked from Dec. 2009 to, say, Nov. 2010 and having worked from Dec. 2009 to Jan. 2010 — and that difference is not reflected when you say you worked in a job from 2009 to 2010.
You need a cover letter. Your resume should be the beginning of a conversation, not the entire conversation. A resume tells me what you’ve done, but a cover letter tells me what you want to do and why. Don’t be lazy. Write a freakin’ cover letter and shut up about it.
This advice is a bit unconventional in that fewer employers these days read cover letters than in years past. Studies suggest that about two-thirds of hiring decision-makers read cover letters. We always advise them, for the reasons Laurie mentions, as well as for the fact that job-seekers don’t know which employers like cover letters and which don’t.