This past October, I met with a potential mentor to discuss my career goals and the direction I was heading. I gave her my resume and she explained some of the changes that she thought I needed to make.
One particular change took places as follows:
How it looked on my resume:· Increased brand awareness through social media and online marketing.
Her revision: Increased brand awareness on Facebook by 638%.
Now, both of these statements are entirely accurate. I did increase brand awareness through social media (not just Facebook but all the others as well. You know who they are) and online marketing. More specifically, I increased brand awareness on Facebook by 638%. If you start with zero likes and you end up with 638 likes, that is an increase of 638%. Facts are facts, right?
IT IS ALSO 100% MISLEADING!
Let’s apply this logic in that magical realm, that mystical place we hear so much about that we still aren’t sure if it’s a myth; the real world.
If you are a hiring manager and you read on a person’s resume that they increased a brand’s awareness on social media, you are probably going to foam at the mouth just to have a chance to interview this obvious social media rock star.
You will probably have trouble reading the rest of the resume because everything in your vision has suddenly turned the color green. All of your thoughts are probably consumed by how you are going to spend that huge raise you’re going to get just for hiring this stud!
You don’t waste any time and you get me on the phone immediately to schedule an interview. During the interview, in my bumbling nervousness, you find out that I grew my online drumstick brand from zero likes on Facebook to a whopping total of 638 likes. The color leaves your face as you turn pale. A look of disappointment washes over your face, the kind of look you get when your teacher returns your test with a fat red “F” at the top.
You thank me for coming in and give me the standard “we should know something in about a week or so. We will definitely call you either way.” You know it’s a lie and I know it’s a lie. You give me a weak hand shake and say “nice meeting you.” This is business code for “we would hire a known serial killer before we would hire you.” You immediately contact your boss and tell her to put me in the “no way in Hell are we hiring this guy” category.
I’ve danced this little jig more times in my career than I can remember. I’ve had my resume read by the “experts” more times than I can remember. All they do is change it to look different than the one the previous “expert” had changed it to. It’s a vicious cycle.
I’ve read all the articles and the advice; have an objective, don’t have an objective, make it one page, make it more than one page, list references, don’t list references, emphasize your accomplishments, don’t use comic sans font, make sure you have all of the appropriate key words like “differentiated, analyzed, passionate and results oriented” so the computer algorithm that the employer is using will make your resume “stand out.”
When you do get that interview, make sure you convey how much you are a hard worker and a team builder. When they ask what your biggest weakness is, you’ll be ready to slap them with the “I’m married to my work” so fast they’ll be writing that signing bonus check in no time.
I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE
Why can’t I just be honest on my resume? Why can’t I just put down that I’ve had some very small, very minor successes and some pretty huge failures? Why can’t I just be honest and list all of those? Why must I use ridiculous business jargon to try and puff up my very minor accomplishments?
Why do I have to be a “sanitation engineer” if I was a janitor? Why do I have to say “I cultivated sales opportunities and implemented strategies to reach monthly quota goals” when I should have said “I cold called and annoyed the shit out of customers until they finally agreed to a sale because I thought my boss would fire me if I didn’t?”
We always say that we admire the attributes of honesty, right? Isn’t that why we love Honest Abe Lincoln and George “I admit I cut down the cherry tree, even though this story is obviously a myth but it sounds so god damn cool that we’re just going to ignore the fact that it didn’t happen” Washington. (Little know historical fact: that is literally George Washington’s middle name).
I finally said fuck it. I’m going to be completely, 100% honest on my resume. I’m going to say exactly what my skills are, what I have done in my career, what my successes are and what my failures are. If you are a hiring manager who appreciates unabashed honesty, then perhaps you’ll take a chance on me.
If you’re like everyone else, you’ll keep saying that you love honesty, but it’ll just be window dressing. I mean, if the ship isn’t sinking then there’s no reason for us to rock it, right? Better safe than sorry.
So, I made up my 100% honest, no bullshit resume. Without further ado.
My success rate with this particular resume: 0%
But hey, at least I’m honest right? Maybe Honest Abe Lincoln himself would be proud?
Maybe not :(