Mobile menu

Off topic: Article discussing errors in résumés...
Thread poster: Dyran Altenburg
Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 28, 2002

The New York Times, November 24, 2002

On a Résumé, Don\'t Mention Moon Pies or Water Cannons


When MTV Networks advertised a junior-level editorial position that required

a good eye for bad English, it was inundated with nearly 800 applications -

many riddled with typographical, grammatical and spelling errors.

The incongruity is not quite so stark in other professions, but the job of

wading through all that paper is every bit as frustrating. In one of the

most competitive job markets in recent years, human-resources employees,

recruiters and hiring managers say, nearly every opening in the metropolitan

area is generating a deluge of résumés. And yet, for all the how-to

resources available on the Internet and in bookstores, the submissions are

often so amateurish they sometimes make Mimi O\'Connor, MTV\'s editorial

manager, want to \"jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.\"

It isn\'t just the spelling mistakes, the recruiters say. It is also poor

formatting, exotic fonts, unnecessary personal information and, worst of

all, vague descriptions of professional achievements. Do not just write that

you increased widget sales, experts say; say you increased them by 25

percent, or by $2 million.

Also, they say, the days of the one-size-fits-all résumé are over;

applicants should customize each to match the job opening.

\"The biggest mistake that people are making is that their résumés have no

real impact,\" said Martin Weitzman, president of Gilbert Career Résumés in

Manhattan. \"People need to establish their value. Many times accomplishments

aren\'t defined or focused. A good résumé won\'t get you a job, but it will

get you in the door.\"

That is a crucial accomplishment these days, when even people with

impressive job records and impeccable credentials can be lost in the


Errors in spelling, typography and grammar topped the list of résumé-writing

sins singled out by 2,500 recruiters and headhunters in a survey by

RésuméDoctor, a career-services company in Burlington, Vt. But incomplete

contact information (some people actually forget to give their own names and

phone numbers), wordiness and meaningless introductions also ranked high.

Some of the faux pas cited by these professionals, though extreme examples

of how not to do it, can nonetheless be instructive. For example, one job

hunter\'s statement that he sought a job that would be less likely to give

him panic attacks than his old one and another applicant\'s request that her

letter be disregarded if anyone within the company lacked a \"pleasing

personality,\" suggest that you should focus on what you can do for the

prospective employer, not what the employer can do for you.

Similarly, personal information like one job seeker\'s description of himself

as a \"single, white male\" (which prompted the hiring manager to ask, \"Am I

supposed to place him or date him?\") and another\'s boast that he loved to

play with his \"17 children that resulted from 9 marriages\" argues strongly

for eliminating extraneous data.

Using e-mail addresses like sonofsatan, hotlips and imrbaby; enclosing a

photo showing the applicant with his children or pets or, in one case,

dressed in a tuxedo and sitting on a throne-like chair; listing achievements

like \"able to fit a whole Moon Pie in my mouth\" and \"getting shot 70 feet

out of a water cannon\"; and composing a résumé in the form of a comic

strip - all of these tactics made poor impressions. Any form of cutesiness

is generally a losing proposition.

And so is overenthusiasm, as in: \"I am an electrifying, spirited, alluring,

and amazing programmer who has been known to defy gravity, wrestle anacondas

(and win), and type thousands of lines of error-free code with my left hand


Almost as bad is unintelligibility, like this buzzword-saturated job

description: \"As the Director of Strategic Sales, my charter focuses on

catalyzing the relevant ecosystem to deliver optimized and synergized

solutions to my strategic E.U. customers.\"

How to do it right? Think of yourself as a salesman with five seconds to mak

e your pitch before a door is slammed in your face. \"Whether you\'re a

C.P.A., an electrical engineer or a nurse, you are your own product,\" said

Michael Worthington, the operations manager at RésuméDoctor. \"Some hiring

managers get 200 to 300 résumés a day and will give yours exactly 5 to 10

seconds. You\'ve got to give them the information they want on a silver


Mr. Worthington recently received a 62-page treatise from a college

professor that seemingly included every paper he had ever written. Had the

professor highlighted his most impressive achievements in two pages, he

would have received a better hearing, he said. Mr. Worthington recommends

using a professional résumé service, or at least getting another person to

look at the material you plan to send employers.

Even diligent souls who use the spelling checker on their documents can make

errors. Trudy Steinfield, the director of New York University\'s career

services center, recently reviewed a personal trainer\'s résumé that listed

\"personnel trainer\" as the applicant\'s occupation. And Eric Bacolas, vice

president for human resources at a large New York advertising agency, was

surprised to read the claim that an applicant had bolstered employee


While being creative can sometimes score points with a prospective employer,

it is generally not recommended. Dan Black, the tri-state director of campus

recruiting for Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, says one applicant\'s

decision to print his résumé on blue paper with little white clouds only

annoyed him.

Many résumé experts say anything unrelated to job experience, professional

organizations or education is a distraction, and they counsel omitting

information about marital status, children, pets, religious affiliation or

political leanings. Even listing hobbies can backfire, according to Mr.

Weitzman of Gilbert Résumés. \"If someone writes his hobbies are gymnastics

or skiing, I\'m going to think that this person is going to break his ankle

and be out of work for six weeks,\" he said.

Some recruiters are less hard-nosed. Susie Kurtz, a Manhattan freelance

recruiter for the advertising industry, once received baby shoes attached to

a résumé that said, \"I want to get my foot in the door,\" and another time a

box of seeds and a note that proclaimed, \"I want to grow with your company.\"

She found both to be clever tactics that helped differentiate the candidates

from dozens of others.

\"In some creative careers, there\'s more leeway in how a résumé is written,\"

she said.

Whatever the profession you are in, use terminology in your résumé that

shows a familiarity with what you do, experts say. If you are applying

online for an accounting position, for example, make sure your résumé

contains the words \"accountant\" and \"accounting\" a few times.

Andrew Peck, a 31-year-old unemployed ad account executive in Manhattan,

lards his résumé with terms like \"leveraging synergies\" whose meaning he

confesses is murky. That does not bother him; in his view, a résumé is just

a calling card.

\"It\'s a first step, that proves your value in an industry and demonstrates

that you\'re worth talking to,\" he said. \"We live and die by a piece of paper

that doesn\'t really reflect who we are.\"

Direct link Reply with quote

Local time: 17:47
English to French
+ ...
Nov 29, 2002

[Edited at 2004-06-23 11:09]

Direct link Reply with quote

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Fernanda Rocha[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Article discussing errors in résumés...

Advanced search

Wake up in the Morning and see that you have sold TMs and made Money overnight

The TM Market Place for Translators
New: Our Instant TM Download
TM owners: Upload your TMs into the online database
Customers: Analyse your text & instantly download a text-specific TM
Well over 1.2 BILLION translation units

More info »
Want to earn more in your spare time? Monetize your knowledge!

Do you speak one or more foreign languages? Fluency in target language + willingness & ability to help people in everyday situations could earn you $45 / hour. Download “Quiick Angel” app & become a guardian angel today

More info »

All of
  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs