letter) requires particular skills and a certain
amount of knowledge, but it's not brain surgery.
Depending on your occupation, the competition,
and the industry, if you can form an intelligible
sentence you can probably write a passable résumé.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
Résumé-writing—like writing great ad copy or a great
short story—demands a rare combination of intuition,
experience, and information. I've prepared résumés
for hundreds of people in every economic sector, and
not once has the thought crossed my mind, "This
person doesn't need my help. She might as well do it
herself." In my experience, people are too busy
becoming experts in their own fields to master
In a single month, during a slump in the agricultural
economy, more than a dozen farmers came to me for
résumés. Most were pessimistic about their prospects.
"All I've ever done is farming," they'd tell me.
Pretty quickly I discovered what "farming" actually
meant for these men. Each had decades of experience
running a business, whatever that entailed—from
repairing machinery to navigating commodity futures.
Unfazed by information technology, they used
specialized software for calculating yields, and email
for keeping in touch with the grandkids. They were
experienced mechanics, market analysts, builders,
electricians, personnel managers, investors... all
accustomed to long hours of strenuous work without
benefit of sick leave or paid vacation.
Once I pried the information out of them, I had to
convince them that these were marketable skills. After
all, everyone they knew was at least as capable and
hardworking. Eventually, in every case, they overcame
their modesty, presented their impressive résumés,
and found jobs that suited their considerable talents.
on résumés. Here are a few I found with a quick
If I'd been searching for "résumé gobbledygook" or
"the silliest statement ever found on any résumé in
any galaxy" instead of "objectives on résumés," I
could hardly have hoped to find results that were
more on target: empty words and hackneyed
phrases taking up prime résumé real estate... and
to what purpose?
If I were hiring and, due to some terrible mistake,
Mr./Ms. Creative Problem Solver's résumé landed
on my desk, I would send it back with an invoice
and a note: "Processing your résumé interfered
with our ability to achieve optimum utilization of
If you need to specify the job you're applying for,
do it on the cover letter, and do it succinctly: "I'm
applying for the job of assistant to the president."
If you're not applying for a specific job, then begin
the cover letter as follows: "I'd like to work for
your company's marketing department. The
attached résumé describes my background in online
marketing with emphasis on social media." This is
assuming, of course, that you have reason to
believe the company might hire a social-media-
WHY IN THE WORLD SHOULD I READ YOUR LETTER?
Everybody's busy. Billions of data units compete
nonstop for the busy person's attention. If I'm a
busy employer, at the hiring stage I'm not
particularly interested in what you want, and
telling me that you're dedicated is hardly going to
sweep me off my feet. What might get my
attention is evidence that you've done your
homework on my company, my industry, and my
competition. Based on your research, what—
besides puffed-up boilerplate prose—do you have
what you're reading, it probably needs a rewrite.
Are you an architect, or are you "a passionate,
innovative, dynamic provider of architectural
services who uses a collaborative approach to
create and deliver outstanding customer
experiences"? If you're not sure, read Jeff Haden's
cautionary tale (Inc. online magazine),
of Definition 2.
This excerpt from Write Better Right Now, by
Mary Campbell, lists "deceptive, exaggerated, or
meaningless" words and phrases.
|JIVE (n): 1. A form of slang associated with black
American jazz musicians
2. deceptive,exaggerated, or meaningless talk
|Found online: A refreshingly straightforward
résumé that won't put you to sleep