7 lessons for hitting the broad side of a barn with your professional resume (curriculum vitae).

It’s starting to look like 2016 is the year I’ll finally put on my big boy pants. With this in mind, I figured that it was high time I hired some Outside Sales Representatives (or two or three) for the rather disruptive building materials start-up that I’m betting will put a ding in the aluminum curtain wall industry.i

After finding out that “workopolis.ca”, “monster.ca”, “jobshops.ca”, and the like wanted to charge me a fairly galling one bitcoin per month for advertising on their sites, and seeing as how this is the lean start-up to end all fiat-space lean start-upsii – not the kind of bezzlecorpiii whose HR departments need to spend its annual expense budget, come hell or high water, lest their executives cut their HR department budgets the following year for being “unnecessary” (even though they are) – throwing that kind of coin on a website linkiv simply wasn’t an option, even if it was “worth it” somehow.v

So I posted ads on the only “professional” service I could find with free postings : indeed.ca, which offered easily gameable “sponsored jobs” scams, but with no apparent penalty for opting out. So obviously I opted out and stuck with the freeby spot. After a month of exactly zero replies and scarcely a handful of worthless views, I expanded the search to include the good ol’ fashioned classifieds : Craigslist and Kijiji. With ads ranging between free and $25 for a job posting with a picture, depending on the market, the price was certainly right, and so I gave it a shot.

Just five days after posting the ads in just a few of the potential markets that I’m interested in hiring in,vi no less than eight resumes found their way into my inbox, one of which was expertly crafted by a fellow who appears to be an ideal candidate for that area.

So not only does this mean that the whole “professional” web platform market can go pound sand,vii but it means that there’s surprising merit to the supermarket approach when aiming for a mass market. In much the same way that most people use Facebook for all their “news” and whatever, and shop at Walmart for all their “food” and “consumables” and whatnot, they aggregate around Kijiji and Craigslistviii for all their second-hand wares, living accommodations, and employment opportunities – much in the same way they did with dead-tree newspapers back when those were a thing.

With this in mind, since it’s unlikely (if far from impossible) that you’ve ever reviewed resumes for a job that you were hiring for, and have therefore never had the opportunity to compare CVs side-by-side to see how yours stacks up, it’s time for my recommendations for non-WoT-based jobsix :

1. Keep formatting clean and consistent. No one will bother to figure out whether you’re the man (or woman) for the job if your resume looks like The Most Amazing Website on the Internet. If all else fails, try plaintext (txt).

2. Include a cover letter. Show that you care enough about this position to customise your message to this employer’s specific demands. The resume spambot-scattershot method is quickly rejected and is unlikely to yield useful feedback. Relatedly, don’t reuse cover letters from previous applications without changing the letter’s date, the recipient’s name, and the specific job title. Apparently this doesn’t go without saying.

3. Check your spelling and grammar. This isn’t the 4th grade. No one is going to send back your assignment with corrections in red black, because they have nothing better to do (and red is too mean). If you don’t have a literate friend or parent to help you out, ask the meanest English teacher you ever had, they’ll be flattered.

4. Use a professional e-mail address. “luvbunnie69@hotmail.com” or “buzzlightyear2infinitynbeyond@yahoomail.co.uk” just doesn’t cut the mustard. You come off like a very old child. And no one wants to hire a very old child.

5. Only include relevant volunteer experience. If you’ve had 6`844 community-level positions and 2`293 meaningless awards, including Best Pizza Sauce Recipe in Northeast Nottingham three years running, maybe trim some of the fat and focus on what pertains specifically to this job. No one wants to see the “Best Dad Ever” coffee mug your son gave you last Christmas.

6. Keep work experience descriptions concise. Specifically, skip the job responsibility minutiae. No one cares that you worked in a restaurant kitchen and “monitored the taste, visual appeal, financial cost and temperature of all meals served.” Really, all meals ? As in, no bathroom breaks ? What are you, some kind of non-renewable resource ?

7. If you’re offered a follow-up interview, show up. Whether it’s coffee at a local cafe, a meeting at your potential employer’s office, a phone call, or an invitation to IRC,x don’t be a bitch and ditch after you’ve already committed to a date and time. There are no second chances.

Heed these words of wisdom and you might not end up at the Food Bank or on a friend’s couch the next time your local economy faceplants.

It’s worth a shot.

___ ___ ___

  1. You may recall my company from the time I brought PGP to the construction industry, and also possibly from VolandoBraindead’s weak sauce efforts to “dox” me, and the ensuing lulz as he groped at the edges of the very large world that I inhabit, ultimately mustering no better than “Bitcoin is dead”, “Pete just markets glass curtains”, “Latin is snobby” and similarly subhuman rhetoric.

    For the record, my company manufactures curtain wall framing systems, where a “curtain wall” is the engineering term for a non-load-bearing wall that’s either transparent or opaque. We exclusively manufacture the frames – not the glass/glazing held in place by the frames – but the frames we make are literally the coolest frames on the market.

  2. Keeping in mind that my company isn’t a Bitcoin corporation and therefore doesn’t have the advantage of being divorced from geography by virtue of existing exclusively in the digital space, its burn-rate is astonishingly low. It’s what I do.
  3. eg. Home Depot, Xerox, provincial governments, etc.
  4. I don’t care if you’re selling links on whitehouse.gov using pictures of Hussein Bahamas’ naked girls as clickbait, for a bitcoin (nevermind per month) you’d better hand-deliver me 30 of the best CVs ever written from the most exquisitely qualified candidates ever conceived. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Not anymore.
  5. But even then, seriously fuck HOW ???
  6. viz. Alberta, BC, Manitoba, the Maritimes, and Colorado, if you’re curious.
  7. When’s the last time a potential employer saw your CV on LinkedIn and just had to reach out to you ? And how much time did you dump into refining your profile page, particularly that vapidly professional headshot ? Please don’t tell me you broke the bank on that photo…
  8. There’s a Schelling Point in every city in my experience, meaning that one or the other has >90% market share in North America, with Kijiji having more strongholds in Canada and Craigslist being more widely used in the US. Though for reasons I can’t begin to guess at, Vancouver uses Craigslist, whereas Winnipeg is apparently too dead to use either.
  9. WoT-based job applications are a story for another time, but the Trilema Jobs Board is a decent, if under-used, example of this arrangement. Then, of course, there’s always that friend of your dad’s.
  10. Yes, I’ve actually tried this. He no-showed, proving once again that the “civilised world” isn’t ready for 1995, much less ISIS.

5 thoughts on “7 lessons for hitting the broad side of a barn with your professional resume (curriculum vitae).

  1. PeterL says:

    I would like to think these are all “common sense” and should go without saying. That you have to actually say them is a sad statement for the quality of our civilization.

  2. Rule 1 of resume: don’t have one.

    Hiring managers routines cut stack of resume in half and toss it stating, “The last thing this company needs is unlucky people.”

    • Pete D. says:

      That’s really no different than the Ancient Greek trials wherein half the jury’s ballots were rejected because Fortune had to have a role in the outcome of the accused. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand trial.

  3. […] mircea_popescu: Ok, another riddle for the ages: wtf is with all the chicks having much better looking chicks in their profile pics ? They ever-so-carefully avoid showing how fat they are. On one hand. And on the other… ascii_butugychag: Same thing as with job candidates having much better looking biographies in their CV ? […]

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