Post of the Day
July 8, 1998

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Subject: Re: Letters of reference / the dreaded resume'
Author: QuestorTheElf

The problem with resumes, letters of reference as well as most job search correspondence is that they're extremely positively slanted. They're also very easy to forge, or at least, embellish. That's why some employers have decided no longer to write nor read letters of recommendations. They know you can pay or instruct someone to speak highly of you, either in print or orally and the employer will be none the wiser. And if you think the truth will be uncovered at the interview or in the reference check, why then are there still employers who cry, "Her resume was brilliant, she was great at the interview, had dynamite references, but she was an absolute disaster on the job!"?

Also, there's no need to be an absolutist regarding resumes, that we have no choice but to write a resume. If anything, part of the resume madness is that you have many choices available, including using none at all. Those who opt for this no-resume route emphasize that they want to talk to the employer not about the work that was done 5 years ago, not about the work that may be done 5 years from now, instead, only the work that needs to be done now.

  "...- regardless of what choice you take, some will love you for it, others will hate you. So it's really up to each individual to decide if they'd like to succeed in terms of or in spite of resumes"

Yes, using this approach you may encounter some opposition. That's only because the resume has become extremely engrained into our way of thinking, just like expecting everybody to carry a driver's license, 2 major credit cards, and of course, an up-to-date resume in the trunk of their car. In the same way it took 40 to 50 years for the resume to become so entrenched, it may take a similar period to get people to consider something else.

So my observations about resumes are wholeheartedly supported by some. Then again, they're outright rejected by others. That's also the issue in having so many choices -- regardless of what choice you take, some will love you for it, others will hate you. So it's really up to each individual to decide if they'd like to succeed in terms of or in spite of resumes. Blindly following one set of recommendations while expecting unconditional success is why so many people are extremely disappointed, whether they send or receive resumes.

If you'd like to see or hear even more disparity about resumes, just ask so-called resume experts themselves. You'll have one set of resume experts who say that they won't consider any resume which does not have an "Objective." Then you'll have another set of experts who say having an objective limits your possibilities. Or on another popular subject -- regarding hobbies. One set of experts says hobbies have no place on the resume because they're not part of the job. Yet another set of experts say that companies believe in hiring people with diverse minds who have a life outside of work, that their life outside of work influences their jobs, so knowing hobbies are important. And then you'll find even more debate about format, such as chronological vs. functional. One camp says you must always use Chronological, because if you don't, that raises a red flag where the employer wonders what you're trying to hide. Yet the other camp says that Functional is extremely approprate in the 90's, a time where so much change is going on that entire careers may be wiped out, so you have to show your transferrable skills. Just who among these educated experts will you follow?

Oh, talkin' 'bout references -- another interesting one about resumes is the section of references. One set of experts says not to include the standard line "References available upon request", because it's assumed that if there's interest, you'll supply references. But another set of experts says that if you leave the line out, the employer might think you're not too willing to supply references, and why might that be?

"The erroneous belief throughout a lot of interviewing, esp. in corporate America today is that the best indicator of your future is your past. This partially succeeds because corporate America likes to view workers as being predictable"  

A resume is simply a document which highlights your past. It says nothing about how you intend to solve the current problem of the current company. It requires a tremendous intuitive leap for some stranger to make between what you did in the past and what you'll do tomorrow and tonight. And for someone who doesn't personally know you, that intuitive leap will many times be WRONG! Moreover, the employer probably receives thousands of resumes, so the way the current system works, this total stranger doesn't care about you at all! (And regarding cover letters, some people have admitted they won't read them at all, given their 10-to-30 second self-imposed limit of reading resumes.)

The erroneous belief throughout a lot of interviewing, esp. in corporate America today is that the best indicator of your future is your past. This partially succeeds because corporate America likes to view workers as being predictable. Also, many workers never see that they have a free enough mind to change their thoughts and actions between years. That's why America clings onto the resume. Yet why then is it that a person who was CEO for 6 successful companies has the 7th company turn out to be a flop? Why then is it that someone who dropped out of school becomes the richest man in the world? What does one's history have to do with one's present and future, esp. in the 90's, a time of unpredictable and unprecedented change?

If you really feel you must write a truthful resume, all it should contain is your name, a means of contacting you and this standard line:

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.


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