A student asked me to review her resume. She had just failed my business development class because she turned in no work.
I always worry about the effect on someone’s career, student visa, chances of getting into another graduate program, and just their general state of mind when I have to turn in a failing grade to the university.
While students clearly know they aren’t turning in assignments during the semester, I try to remind them before the course ends, so there’s no question when the grade arrives. In her case, the week before the class ended I confirmed with her that she was failing. When she arrived in our last class she announced to me that she was “good with failing.”
It gets weirder. Because the holiday took a day out of our course schedule, I offered a one-on-one half-hour to the students in class, for career coaching or my insight into a business development issue.
So, Ms. I-Fail-And-Feel-Good-About-It scheduled her half-hour. Then, she emailed her resume to me before our chat last Friday. Let me tell you: it scared me.
Unless Ms. I-Fail suffered from multiple personality disorder, this resume had nothing to do with the person I got to know over three months in class. She produced no work. She had barely spoken in the workshop portion of our weekly class, where each person shares their assignment and gets feedback from class members. I never knew when she was not coming or when she was leaving early. She even moved slowly and sat all bundled up in a chair by the door, in summer.
So you can imagine my shock when I read the first paragraph of her resume.
“High energy marketing professional. Dependable, detail-oriented, well-organized, genuine team player with great problem solving, communication, writing and researching skills.”
Not a single attribute that her resume touted, had she demonstrated.
At our one-on-one meeting, I asked her if someone else had written her resume. Yes, she said. Had they met her? I just wondered that one.
What’s worse is she listed eight core competencies that had she actually commanded those skills, would make her a winning candidate for a group vice president of marketing at a Global 2000 company. Unfortunately, when you read through her experience she’d only been a director of marketing for a few years, and before that an administrative assistant, and before that an IT trainer—someone helping other people learn the Office suite of programs.
This is why it scares every recruiter when it’s time to dig through the email or the online job applications when a job is posted.
People are sending virtual garbage that heaps up and soils every legitimate inquiry.
This is why you’re not getting found.
This is why you don’t get a personalized thank you or even a rejection.
This is why we are still saying that personal connections and referrals are the #1 way to get a job. People who have no business putting themselves up for the spot you deserve are crowding you out like weeds among roses.
So, time for a check-up. Look at your resume. Discard all the self-congratulatory nonsense about what a great person you are. Discard any competencies that are hopes and not truths. And, never believe that someone else can write a great resume for you, if you haven’t told them your real story. If they’ve inflated you, then deflate the rhetoric until it’s actually you that we find on that resume.