Stupid Job Requirements and the Stupid People Who Write Them (Job-search/resume tip)

“Candidate must have 10 years in social media”

“Candidate must have five years experience developing Web 3.0 applications”

“Candidate must have taken a start-up to a $100M company in five years”

“Candidates must be able to travel back in time” (just kidding but you get the point)

I love reading job-requirements where it is clear that neither the company and/or the recruiter has no idea what they are looking for by listing skills that simply do not exist.    Yes, web 3.0 or  10-years in social media may sound sexy.  But WTF?   The other requirements that I like are for a person, whom, if they met these requirements, would almost certainly never be interested in the role that is being offered.  If you can take a company from $0-$100M then you do not need a recruiter and you probably wouldn’t be interested in taking a sales-director role at some unknown company.

The downside of this (for job-seekers) is that these recruiters/companies will not work with someone who doesn’t have these skills on their resume.  So it doesn’t matter that you are very successful or are generally a great fit for the role, without ‘Web 3.0’ your resume ends up in the same circular file as everyone else.

Resume Writer Ripoff – Why not buy better drugs? (tips for the job search)

There are many people who claim to be ‘resume writers’ but most do little more than re-format your resume.  If you are happy paying several hundred dollars for someone to re-format your resume then read no further.

Is this worth what they charge?  In my opinion, no.

People hire resume writers for a lot of bad reasons including:

– the belief that there is a ‘magic bullet’ that an experienced resume writer will provide

– you don’t know what else to do, so re-writing their resume seems like a good idea

– your current resume wasn’t getting much of a response

– it is easy to blame your resume on your lack of opportunity

– it felts like you were doing the ‘job search’ because you had someone re-write your resume

It seems that the market for resume writers has exploded.  Every major job-board has some resume-writing feature or partner and a quick search of the Internet will result in hundreds of folks who are more than happy to re-draft your resume.  But do you want your resume re-written or re-formatted?   And are you willing to spend hundreds to re-format your resume?  My experience with resume writers is driven from hiring one and talking to a whole lot of folks who have used them.

Here is my main gripe, resume ‘writers’ cannot simply pull parts of your resume ‘from thin air’.  They need to ask you a lot of questions to really ‘write’ your resume.  However, the general process seems to be (1) have a call to talk about what you want to do and your background (30-60 min) followed by endless back-and-forth versions of your resume.  Almost all of the changes are incremental and the number of incremental changes is directly proportional to how much you spent on the writer.  Why is this bad?  Well, I believe that an excellent resume writer spends a lot of time talking with you and produces very few resumes.   This is based on the belief that if you have a well though-out design/plan/strategy then your results will take less ‘manual’ labor and the overall process will be much shorter.  This, however, would mean that resume writers had to spend a lot of time with their clients and very little time writing.

In my experience, the reviewer had an excellent ‘resume’ (20 years in HR) and glowing references but when pressed on ‘what is your resume writing process” I got a lot of hand-waving.  I should have stopped right there, but all these people had told me ‘his resume helped me get a job’, so I went forward.  The process took about two months, $600 and what I ended-up with was, for all intents and purposes, a re-formatted resume.  Not what I thought I was paying for.

There are many ways a good resume writer can add value, but do you want that value to be re-formatting or re-writing?

Avoid going over the top on your resume

I’m sure you already know the passive voice is to be avoided when writing your resume,  but so is going too far the other way with over-the-top phrases. Action verbs are great, but be sure you do not overdo it.

Here are some over-the-top phrases actually seen on resumes:

* smashed numbers through the roof…
* electrified sales team to produce…
* pummeled close rate by 10 percent…

Shock value does just that, it shocks. Not the feeling you want the reader to have, so remember to keep your resume professional, and do not go overboard.


Drop the passive voice in your resume.

The problem with passive voice is that it is just that – passive! Your resume needs to have punch and sparkle and make you look a pro-active achiever. You can not do that while using the passive voice.



Passive voice phrases like:

* responsible for
* duties included
* served as
* actions encompassed

Rather than saying “Reponsible for management of three direct reports”, change it to “Managed 3 direct reports”. It is a shorter, more direct mode of writing and adds impact to the way the resume reads.

Tip: Start each achievement statement on your resume with an action verb. that will help you set the tone of the statement, and the whole resume.

Adjust your attitude – interview tip

Why do we build up interviews to be such traumatic experiences? I’m sure you’ve seen how some people say they will be nervous at an interview or a meeting and that’s exactly how they are. But why is this?

I’m convinced the reason is actually very simple, if you believe (think) you will be nervous, then that’s exactly what you’ll be. Think about it, we’re the ones who decide what our moods or feelings are, nobody does that for us.

So why don’t we approach interviews or meetings with a different mindset or attitude? I mean, we know we don’t need or even want to be nervous in an interview, but some of us have already decided days before that the interview will make us nervous. And then we berate ourselves for being nervous.  – Looks like there’s something wrong with this picture!

How about you change your attitude towards the interview or meeting and think of it as a great opportunity to meet new people and to network?

Not your usual thought admittedly –

but what if you did change your mindset/attitude and went in with an open mind to treat the whole situation as though you’re meeting with a new friend or contact?. Would that reduce your nervousness and anxiety? Would that help you have a conversation and not be in an interrogation? Would you be able to make a better impression? Would you be more likely to follow-up afterward, without it feeling awkward? Would you be prepared to stay in touch with them and expand your network (even if you didn’t get the job)?

Definitely some food for thought don’t you think?


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Remove “soft-skills” clutter from your resume.

Would you ever dream of writing on your resume something like “takes long lunches”, “fears change”,  “is lazy” or even “argues a lot with peers”

Then why do a lot of job seekers feel they need to communicate their soft-skills to the employer to make them appear unique. Lets face it “soft-skills” are claimed by nearly all job candidates and are so common that hiring managers virtually pay no attention to them.

Soft-skill phrases to avoid:

  • excellent communication skills
  • goal-driven
  • strong work ethic
  • multi-tasker
  • personable presenter
  • goal-oriented
  • detail-oriented

Get the picture? Using these tired old phrases is going to bore the reader and just clutter up your resume.

It’s much more effective to write descriptions that are action-based and demonstrate these abilities rather than just laying claim to them; show, don’t tell.

For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say something like “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to C-level prospects resulting in 35 new accounts totaling $300,000 in new revenues.”

Simon Clay Michael at

Related Posts:

Always use the strongest Action Verbs in your resume

How to write a resume – Achievement Statements

How to write a resume – Summary Statement

Don’t go head to head with the interviewer – Interview Tip

I was reminded of this interview tip the other day. I don’ t mean you should avoid getting into an argument with the interviewer – though that’s good advice too, but what I mean is, when you’re in the interview make sure your not sitting directly opposite the interviewer with your face and body straight on to them.

face-faceBut hold on you say isn’t that what an interview is about? Not really, while you’re not sitting with your back to them, or having to turn your head over your shoulder to see them, your not directly square on to them either.

What you’re looking to do is position yourself so, as you look straight ahead, you’re looking just over the interviewers right or left shoulder. to help you do this, first make sure the position of the chair is in the right place.

As you’re taken to where you’ll be sitting if the chair is opposite the interviewers chair, move it so that it’s facing to the left or right of straight on, it only needs to be just enough so that your not head on with the interviewer. If the chair is too heavy to move, then you’re going to have to sit at a slight angle.

Aha you say, what if there are two or three interviewers? Easy – for two then position yourself so that you’re looking in between both of them. If there are three or more people interviewing you, position yourself a little off center of the middle of the group, that way when someone addresses a question to you, you can swivel a little to direct your answer to them.

By watching where you’re facing, you can make the interview less stressful for both you and the interviewer, while at the same time giving yourself the space to be able to look away (by looking straight ahead) if you need a moment to think of an answer, without giving the impression of looking away.

Try it in front of the mirror, you’ll be surprised how less confrontational it is.

Danger – Don’t divulge your age on your resume

Age discrimination is a real fear many people have in both good and tough economic times.

Many older workers are facing a scary time known as pre-retirement, and they have a very real fear of age discrimination.

The trap a lot of people fall into is to feel they can counter the threat by giving a very active description of their age or health to “prove” they are not ready for the nursing home!  Not only are they toying with hiring laws, but they also make the very issue they’re trying to hide stand out in neon letters.

Age, health, appearance phrases to avoid:

  • young
  • energetic
  • youthful
  • athletic
  • fit
  • healthy
  • professional appearance
  • mature

Let me give you an example, read this and honestly tell me you’re not thinking about age:

“Healthy, young-at-heart executive ready to make a difference rather than play golf all day. Trim, fit marathon runner seeks position as……”

I’m thinking this person might as well have written “57 year old male terrified of age discrimination and worried that he’ll be passed over for a younger candidate”.

While being a marathon runner is an accomplishment at any age, it doesn’t belong on your resume.

(Unless the position demands it.)

So while “you” maybe thinking and worrying about something, just remember all the reader has to go on is what you tell them, so take some time to put yourself in the readers place and cut out everything that’s a give-away.

Simon Clay Michael at

Related Posts:

Always use the strongest Action Verbs in your resume

How to write a resume – Achievement Statements

How to write a resume – Summary Statement

Bone-headed Interview Questions and Really Stupid Answers

I have done a lot of interviewing, on both sides of the table.  And I have done some stupid things….

I had an interview with a gentleman who was part of a large consumer-products company.  They sold soap.  Yes, soap.  So the question presented to me was “why does soap interest you?”.  My brain raced, should I say something like “I love soap, I have used it daily for most of my life”.  I decided that this route was too risky (I love soap), so I went with a more conservative answer “Soap is interesting but growing and managing the business is what I want to do, so be it soap or other consumer goods, many of the management practices are translatable.”

From his reaction, I am guessing he heard my response as “Soap is interesting BUT” and never got past the ‘but’.  He likely (correctly)  though that the rest of my answer was a polite way of saying “I want any job, so I will help sell soap”.  He shut-down, the interview was over and I was out.  At the time I did want any job, and may have taken one at a soap mfgr, but by not coming across as loving the product, I shot myself in the foot.