Recruiters reveal weirdest things seen on CVs
WRITING a good resumé can be tricky.
How do you grab the recruiter's attention within that crucial five-second window to make it into the "must-interview" pile without resorting to exaggeration or cheap gimmicks?
Sending a naked photo of yourself is probably a bad idea. That's what happened to one person writing on question-and-answer site Quora, where recruiters, employers and HR managers were asked about the strangest things they had seen on resumés.
Robert Charles Lee said he had been reading resumés for 35 years as the boss of a printing company.
"I've seen cartoons, funny graphics, car and motorcycle models and even naked pictures of a few applicants - none of which I find 'strange'," he said.
"I'm an open-minded person and I make a lot of allowances for the idiosyncrasies of people. For the naked pictures, I just presume the applicants were just plain desperate for a job - I can't in good conscience blame them for that, even though naked pictures on resumés are inappropriate.
"But having an IQ score on the resumé does come over as 'strange' to me. I cannot really see the point of having that on a resumé because IQ just doesn't mean that much in real life - and my first degree was in psychology and statistics."
Career coach Kim Monaghan cautioned against applicants listing "hobbies" on their resumé.
"I advise my clients not to include these unless they are pertinent to the position they are applying for or serve to illustrate a quality or skill that would transfer nicely to the industry," she said.
"I've seen some pretty interesting hobbies listed on resumés including 'collecting pebbles' and 'observing geometric shapes'. I didn't know these were even hobbies let alone interests that recruiters are looking for."
Former assistant hotel manager Jesse Magee said his job involved looking over resumés to "weed out the obvious bad ones".
"It always struck me as very weird how many people don't know how to spell the name of the position for which they are applying, even those who already work in those positions," he said.
"I understand that some people can't spell. But if you see the word 'maid' or 'housekeeper' or 'maintenance' EVERY SINGLE DAY, how can you spell them 'made', 'howskiper' or 'mentanance'?
"The worst, however, was one particular application for night auditor. That position involved reading, writing reports and math. So I was somewhat surprised to see a perfectly spelled and formatted resumé attached to a handwritten application for the position of 'nite odditor'."
Harold Fethe, HR exec at now Pfizer-owned Anacor Pharmaceuticals, said he once received a handmade comic strip as a resumé.
"His resumé had contact info and a few educational details, etc," he said.
"He had a ton of graphics training, and had put a technology rescue against an important mailing deadline into comic strip format - in colour!
"At a prior job, some big mailing had been due and the equipment wasn't up to making the deadline. The applicant had superior knowledge of the capabilities all the equipment.
"His comic strip showed how he put elements of the problem together differently than anyone else had, and met the deadline with a high-quality mailing and time to spare. He illustrated the story and the time pressure with good graphics and great style, even portraying himself in a caricature.
"He didn't have any reception desk experience, and other people did. Full marks for originality, though."
Google manager David Seidman said he once saw a resumé for a security engineer position that listed 10 years' experience as a cashier at McDonald's.
"It's actually a pretty good statement of work ethic," he said. "Those jobs aren't easy. Nobody does it for 10 years unless there are adverse factors keeping them there, and this person was eventually able to overcome that adversity.
"And the transition from McDonald's to IT to security engineer shows ongoing career growth. We were considering him for an entry-level position and this unusual credential put him ahead of the pack. I sent him to phone screen. He didn't pass it, but that's typical."
Stan Hanks, from private investment firm Colombia Ventures Corp, recalled an interesting job application he received.
"For a long time, I had an umbrella consulting company that I used to cover the various bits of pick-up work I did on the side for other people, for which I got paid," he said.
"It had a catchy name: Network Mercenaries Inc. One day, I got this email from a guy which more or less said, 'Dear Sir, I'm hoping that you can advance me into my next placement. I've spent the last two years as an operative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo specialising in hard-target interdiction and related activities. My prior experiences include …'
"Um. S**t. I'm a mercenary, for networks. This guy thinks I'm a network, for mercenaries. And he told his friends. I got a lot of weird letters that summer. And that included a lot of things like qualifications on long-range weapons, explosives, demolitions, antipersonnel mines, combatant KIAs, etc."
The best answer, however, came from Indian university graduate Anurag Bhattad, who recalled a jobseeker listing "Time Person of the Year 2006" on their resumé.
In 2006, the magazine named "You" as its Person of the Year, in a nod to the millions of people who contribute user-generated content to websites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia and Amazon.
"Add this to your resumé without fail," Mr Bhattad wrote.