Dear Evil Skippy:
I work as a Human Resources Assistant. One of my duties is to review resumes to determine who should be interviewed. I am beginning to think applicants have all gone to the same resume seminar because they seem to have all developed an inability to communicate in plain English. Instead, the resumes use trite cliches such as applicants are “looking for increased responsibility to exercise their relationship and leadership skills” or have “a proven record for being a team player and thinking outside the box”. One recent applicant used the word “proactive” eleven times. They all seem to have a checklist to make sure they say things like “synergy”, “strategic thinker” or “value added”.
It is often just a bunch of gibberish. Would you simply reject the applicant or offer them some helpful hints?
I would send them a letter in their own language, such as this:
In our mission to be a proactive employer of choice, we apply strategic thinking and critical analysis to make every hiring decision a win-win situation.
You didn’t win.
Bonus points if you can fit in “paradigm shift”, “low hanging fruit” or “push the envelope”
— Evil Skippy
Boiler-plate and cut-and-paste resumes are a quick way for a qualified applicant to become part of the rejection pile. However, unless the position you have open is that of “Resume Writer” or another job that requires strong writing skills, I would not immediately reject an applicant because of a cliché-ridden resume. The person might be the best sales person/widget-maker/hair stylist/whatever who you have ever encountered. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and really read the experience and education sections of the resume to see if the person is someone who might meet your needs. That’s your job, right?
Remember, your applicant might have a great looking resume simply because she or he hired someone competent to write it. Don’t assume it reflects the person’s actual writing skills.
Last but not least, unless an applicant asks you what you think of the resume – keep your editing thoughts to yourself.
Readers – what do you say?
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