{ glenmccallumcan }

10 Unconventional Opinions After Reviewing 100 Resumes

Nov 26, 2021
4 minutes

I recently found myself with 100 resumes to sort through over the course of 2 afternoons. I was a bit surprised by what I found and discovered that I have some opinions on the topic. In most cases these are contrary to what you will be told by a recruiter.

1) I read cover letters

I know everyone says you don’t need to write a cover letter anymore, and maybe that’s true if you’re applying through a recruiter, but when I see 100 resumes and only 5 of them have cover letters I take the time to look at each cover letter. It’s your chance to tell me why you’re the right person for the job even though you don’t have matching experience or even any experience. For example, why are you a director with 20 years experience applying for an individual contributor role with a 3-5 year experience requirement?

Having said that, you all need to learn how to write a business letter. This is not a two-line email to me. Learn proper formatting. It should be four paragraphs long.

2) Switch to a bigger font. Please.

98% of you need to just do this. And try a new font (not times new roman). Show me that you’re going to be fun to hang out with every day.

3) Why not use color?

I LOVE colours. Here’s your chance. Be bold. Show me you’re willing to break the rules. When I get 1 resume out of 100 with colour I notice it. I like it.

I promise you I’m not going to print out, photocopy, or fax your resume and neither will anyone else these days. You don’t have to worry about colour ruining it.

4) Bonus points for getting it on one page

Don’t shrink your margins to zero.

You don’t have to write a one thousand word essay. In fact, too much information counts against you.

Communication is more than fifty percent of the job. I’m looking at the resume to assess your communication and presentation skills.

Especially when dealing with data we’re often presenting information to business stakeholders. The number one problem I see is showing too much information. Most of it is irrelevant, noise blurring out the signal.

5) It’s obvious that you didn’t even read the job description

Stop this. The mass application - hit the apply button on every posting with a generic resume. You’re harming yourself by setting yourself up for so many rejections. You will only get more bitter each time you don’t hear back.

6) If I mention specific technologies you give examples

It’s that simple. Get in my head. Show how what you know relates to what I need.

7) Only include your gpa if you’ve never had a real job in the industry

By way of including your grades you’re signalling value and that’s okay. But when I see GPAs I think about school - my time in school, school in general. I start looking in your resume for your school. I start associating you with being a student. What years where you in school? You’re still in school graduating next month?

8) Claim a wildcard interview spot

I think everyone will open up an interview spot for something impressive that’s not direclty job related. Show me that you’re a diamond in the rough.

Some recent examples:

  1. A member of the Nigerian national fencing team. There’s fencing in nigeria? That must take persistance and dedication.
  2. Retail job experience with numbers that showed the impact you had on sales. This was just phenomonal. They showed growth and progression climbing up the ladder in retail industry.

9) Lifting others up

I really wish there was a way for you to tell me you’re female and/or black and/or part of a group that needs a boost. That’s probably inappropriate to say and some might use that to discriminate - in fact we’re going the opposite direction removing names and such information from the resume review process (that’s not bad either).

But I really do want to lift people up. I would give extra consideration to these applicants. Maybe open up that first role. Choose you over a stronger application and provide some mentoring.

10) Powerpoint presentation resume, really?

I’m not a fan of clicking through slides. This is not going to become a thing. Nice try.