The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Resumes

It’s that time of year again. The time when we begin accepting applicants for our summer internships and other positions.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your resume when you email it to a potential employer? We print them all and make a single, tall stack of them in the middle of a conference room table. I take half the resumes off the top of the stack and toss them in the trash. Because I don’t want to hire anyone who’s unlucky. In the human resources business, that is what we call “a joke.”

So let’s remove luck and chance from the hiring process. That’s why I’ll share with you some tips that will improve the chances that your resume will be reviewed favorably.

Resumes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You may infer from the fact that I feel compelled to post resume tips that not all of the literally hundreds of resumes we receive are what I’d consider “good.” To be quite honest, some of them are bad while others are downright ugly. For example, I keep in my desk drawer for convenient reference a copy of the worst resume ever received – one that managed to pack 35 spelling errors onto a single page. In the human resources business, a resume like that is what we call “a waste of my time.”

The world's worst resume. Yellow highlights indicate spelling errors.

The world’s worst resume. Yellow highlights indicate spelling errors. Blurred to protect the guilty.

So while my motives may appear to be altruistic, they’re really quite selfish. I don’t want my time to be wasted. I have better things to do, like generating memes.

perfect-candidate

Finding the Best Candidates

Our goal is to find the best candidates as soon as possible. Truly. And I’m betting that most job seekers want to find the best employer as soon as possible. Win-win, right?

So here’s the big secret I have to reveal. Someone at your career placement office is lying to you. They’re telling you that your resume is your foot in the door. The contrary is true:

Your resume is used against you as a rejection tool.

In the field of mesh generation one truism that comes up a lot when talking about mesh quality is that it’s easy to tell when a mesh is bad but it’s much harder to tell when a mesh is good. That’s kinda how it is with resumes. Because bad ones are easy to identify, we look for them first.

How to Write a Good Resume

Without further preamble, here are tips for writing a good resume.

Spelling, Grammar, Spelling, Grammar, Spelling, Grammar

Using whatever tool or service is available to you, check the spelling and grammar used in your resume. Have a friend proofread it. Have a professor proofread it. Have your career placement people proofread it.

Think of it this way. Your resume is the first work product you’ve created for us. We’re going to judge you based on its quality and we’re going to assume that the effort you put into your resume is more or less than same effort you’ll put into the first task we give you when you get the job.

Make us feel like you actually care.

Objectively Objective

I am not a big fan of the Objective statement at the top of the resume. Here’s one I like: “Seeking an internship for the summer of 2015.”

Do not tell me that your objective is “to find a rewarding position where you can grow professionally.” In the human resources business, that is what we call “blah blah blah.” Why? Who doesn’t want this?

Objectives are a double-edged sword. If your resume says that your goal is to gain experience in the design of thermal systems I WILL reject you. We’re a CFD software company. Who are we to stand in the way of your dreams?

Important: An objective that doesn’t match the position for which you are applying may be the fastest path to the rejection pile.

Uncover Yourself

While objective statements leave me feeling “meh,” I love me some good cover letter. The resume should simply state the cold hard facts: your name and contact info, your educational and work background, your skill set.

The cover letter, on the other hand, is your chance to make me want to read your resume. It’s what’ll set you apart from the other 50 students at your school who also sent me their resume, with the same classes, arranged in the same format because you all use the same resume template that your career placement office provided.

Flattery is appreciated. We write CFD software. Make us believe that you’re interested in CFD software even if that interest is simply to learn more about it.

I read the cover letter first. Make me want to read your resume second.

The Funny Thing About Email Addresses

Use a professional looking email address such as first.last@gmail.com.

Now is not the time to be using “hot_chocolate@hotmail.com” or “sxy_kitten247@aol.com.” (Trust me, those two are not far from ones we’ve received.)

Bonus tip: Check that email account’s inbox on a daily basis. We may have sent you something requiring a reply.

Factoid: Half of all applicants fail to reply to our first email response to receipt of their resume. We don’t send that email twice.

Bonus Factoid: If we ask a question in an email you should answer it. If we ask two or more, we kinda expect answers to all of them. In the human resources business, that is what we call “helpful.”

What’s In a Name?

This is a simple thing. Your resume, whether in Word or PDF or whatever format, should have a file name that helps me keep track of it like Firstname-Lastname-Resume.pdf.

Please don’t send me a resume with another company’s name in its file name such as Resume-ANSYS.pdf. I love everyone at ANSYS but it makes me jealous to know that you’re applying somewhere else.

Know the meanings of the words experience and expertise and use them correctly. If you claim to have expertise in a certain subject area, we will ask you about it and we will expect good answers.

If you say that you’re proactive, I would’ve expected your resume to arrive before we posted the job opening. So don’t bother.

Bonus tip: This is more for interviews than resumes, but remember: When asked a question, sometimes how the answer is given is more important than the answer itself.

Your Name is the Sweetest Sound

Would you believe me if I said many candidates fail to put their name on their resume, their cover letter, or in their email’s signature block? In the human resources business, that is what we call “kind of important.”

And because we’re only just beginning to know you, please help us by using your name consistently on all correspondence. We’re not aware that your middle initial “J” stands for James but you go by Jimbo even though your first name used on all your documents is Alexander.

Pro Tip: Include all your contact information (email address, phone, postal address) on your resume.

The 2 Most Important Things

Interviewing for a job boils down to two things:

  1. Can you do the work?
  2. Will we enjoy working together?

These are the questions we’re trying to answer. I propose that they’re the questions you should be trying to answer too.

We know you’re out there: nice people who’ll do interesting work. Help us find you.

power-of-resume

Send Us Your Resume

So if I haven’t turned you off by coming across as a cantankerous old fart, we do have openings for summer engineering internships and a permanent position for an applications engineer. You can read more about them at www.pointwise.com/jobs.

action-apply-today-200x50

P.S. Did I mention to check the spelling and grammar in your resume?

 

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One Response to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Resumes

  1. Pingback: Summer 2016 Internships Now Open | Another Fine Mesh

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