Are You Being Realistic In Your Resume Requirements?

I have spent hours poring over job ads, recruiter "peeves" and demands, resume service "advice", and various admonitions about how to get a job from "experts" in the field. My impression? These clowns have little or no connection to the modern reality of the working world! They wonder why so many people "puff" their resumes and BS - it's because very few real people can give them all of the nonsense they want!!

Some Examples

These examples (in italics) are taken from resume services recruiter "peeves" or demands, job sites, and other industry articles. Generally, each numbered item is from a different person!

Recruiter Peeves

Word Worship

1) Resume not in MS Word.
2) Resume sent as text within the email rather than as a separate Word file attachment.
3) Resume is in WordPerfect instead of Word.
4) Web sites and saving resumes in any other format other than .doc or rtf. Word documents and rich text formats) which are the best for importing, others have to be deleted due to problems importing.
5) Don't cut and past your resume in an email. Attach it in a file like word that everyone will be able to open.
6) One last comment is that people need to accept Word documents as industry standards and make sure that they have such a format available. It looks better than .txt, is more common than .pdf (although admittedly Adobe can look much better), and actually is still on people's computers, unlike .wpd. We send 100% of our resumes as Word documents, it's industry standard, and have never been told to do otherwise.

My, aren't you bright! Are you saying you want a potential virus carrier (MS Word) sent to you by complete strangers? Sorry, people out there actually do use Linux, Unix, and Mac, not just Windows. I will send you my resume in a format (ASCII text) that a) can be cut and pasted (or imported) into any word processor or database, and b) does not risk transmitting a virus, either from me to you, or from you to a potential employer under my name! It's both of our reputations that are protected by plain text (.txt) files.

By the way, I don't "need to accept" a risky, monopolist format (Word) that is not "still on people's computers", thank you. Welcome to the real world. I wouldn't want to work for someone so ignorant and arrogant that they think that everyone still has Word on their machines just for the convenience of ignorant recruiters. The truest standard is ASCII text, followed by PDF, which can be produced by any computer in use today. Expensive virus vectors need not apply.

PDF is a format that is harder for you to alter and make me look stupid, illiterate, or otherwise sloppy. You wouldn't believe how many agency mangled resumes I've seen on the other side of the hiring pipeline. It's downright embarrasing. The fact that agencies will alter resumes in Word format is part of why I hate it. If I put my resume in Times Roman, don't butcher it to use ugly Arial just because your agency has it as a "standard".

Demanding Detailed Company Data?

When a candidate puts together his or her resume they need to give more company information IE the types of products manufactured, types of processes used, indicate what industry the company is in and the company location as well as the years they worked for that company.

Gee, do you want it in a run-on sentence like yours, too? Really, what does products made and industry have to do with anything for someone who is in a job that is cross industry, like IT people? Does it really matter that I administered servers for a widget company, a telecom company, a software house, or a consulting firm? Aren't the systems and software I worked with more germane?

This demand is so crass and useless that I think they should find a different field of work. People actually doing the hiring either a) don't need the data or b) will ask it in the phone screen or interview. This is something recruiters should know.

Contradictory Demands!

1) Giving me 4 or 5 phone numbers or more even. Which one am I supposed to call? Do I leave a message on all of them or will you get it on one of them. Leave me one number, maybe two. More than that is annoying.
2) Leaving sufficient contact information off of a resume. It's great if your resume looks tight, but what if you can't be contacted!? Home addresses are interesting but worthless as a means of contact. List as many contact phone numbers as possible and BE SURE to put an e-mail address on your resume. If I really want to get hold of someone ASAP, I will call every number possible AND send an e-mail.

Would you guys make up your minds? Do you really expect the poor job seeker to be psychic too, to know whether you want one or several numbers? How about we give you one primary number, and one alternate (message) number?

Gaps To Discriminate By

1) Work related experience listing timeframes are left open or there are "gaps" in the work history - sometimes several months.
2) Gaps without explanation in their work history.
3) Resumes with gaps in work history. Many large companies have professionals who look for gaps and then disqualify the candidate if they find one.

This is insane. You don't realize that very few people miraculously go from job to job seamlessly? What planet are you living on? It takes at least one(1) week for every $10K of salary to find a new job after a layoff in a good economy. Figure that at up to a month or more per $10K in a recession. Welcome to reality! Job gaps are a part of life if the person has taken any risks (ie start-ups, etc.)

Remember, some gaps may be due to family or medical issues. Do you really think that people should put things like "Medical leave due to disability, May 1995 - January 1996" or "Taking care of baby twins, January 2006 - October 2010" on their resume? Are these "large companies" that look for and disqualify based on "gaps" aware that such activities can be evidence of deliberate discrimination (age, parenthood, disability status) in hiring?

Coded requirements that are actually discrimination don't fool anyone. Really. Everyone who has had more than a couple jobs has "gaps".

Degree and GPA?

I think degree should be at the top of the resume not at the bottom. Give GPA also if its over 2.5 and always put the graduation date. No date and everyone assumes you are over 50. People think they are hiding their age. It will come out sooner or later.

Are you saying that people should leave their graduation date in so you can more easily discriminate by age? What a jerk! I'm surprised you don't ask for their high school graduation data too, to be sure you have plenty of reason for bias. What does the GPA really tell you, other than they knew how to take tests well?

Age discrimination is illegal, but tons of companies use little coded requirements like this to screen out older people. Hiring only RCGs (recent college grads) is a code for "young people only need a apply". We see what you are doing. Stop it.

If you want graduation date and GPA, you are, IMO, defacto discriminating against anyone over 30. Most sane people don't put anything over ten to fifteen years worth of jobs or other information on their resume. Anything over 15 years is likely obsolete in today's overhyped, overpressured tech world. Heck, most university curricula are obsolete two years after the person graduates. That's why good companies have continuing education and on-the-job training, because the field moves so fast.

Obsessing on "Accomplishments"

1) Too many buzzwords (relying on the buzzwords to describe work and accomplishments)
2) No accomplishments shown.
3) Resumes that don't list any accomplishments. (Maybe the person has never accomplished anything and really isn't a good candidate.)
4) Position accomplishments are not listed or quantified.
5) Accomplishments that are not quantified in dollars or percentages. (Increased productivity of department) From what to what... 1%, 10%, 90%??
6) When the resume speaks of responsibilities and not results.
7) Not adding accomplishments or goals met.
8) Responsibilities on the job matter little. It's results that count. In this economy employers are extremely critical and want to know what you've done, achieved, how much you saved, how much you generated, how you helped that employer become better not just that you managed the largest system at the company.

I agree with the buzzword peeve, but the resume guides tell you to use buzzwords and "action verbs" (which are total BS to me).

However, you guys are really being arrogant and unrealistic (especially #8) when you demand "accomplishments", "results" and "quantifying". Some jobs don't have "accomplishments", just routine responsibilities and duties. The only thing resembling an "accomplishment" for most IT jobs is getting your job done every damn day in a timely manner (and at some places, this is tough to do!) Also, very few real jobs can be "quantified". Only some pieceworkers, retail clerks, telephone drones, data entry operators, sales types, marketing consultants, or budgetary managers can have their work "quantified" reliably - anything else is probably puffery. JQ Itperson usually has zero insight into budgets, sales numbers, or how much stuff costs. It requires business scale metrics to even begin to quantify things like "uptime", "response rate", or any other "savings", and those are only assignable to a team, not an individual.

Remember, not everyone can, or should, be a "Rock Star", "10x Programmer", "IT Ninja", etc - some people need to do the thankless routine work that keeps the world running and the lights on so the prima donnas can make their "accomplishments". That's what IT, finance, and clerical work is, and the results are companies that run smoothly.

The best operations people don't have quantifications, because the stuff that they would quantify are outages, and their success is in not having many, and once it is low, they keep it that way. Not everyone "sells", not everyone produces widgets on an assembly line, not everyone waits on customers, not every job is directly measurable against revenue. Deal with it, and overcome your addiction to BS statistics.

The Degree is God

1) Resumes that don't have any education history. (If you have a degree, why not let people know about it?)
2) Candidate omits relevant dates (year graduated from college and job history). - Also does not state what field the degree is in.

More arrogant recruiter statements. People don't always have degrees, or their degree is totally irrelevant, or is something that they didn't enjoy, or lots of other things. Degrees are overrated when it comes down to figuring out who can really do the work. If they have over ten years real experience, a degree just proves that they could show up for class once upon a time. Job dates, yes; degree dates, no.

Also, as previously stated, the date of graduation or coursework are a tool that can be used to discriminate based on age. A smart candidate does not hand you these tools, whether they are young or old.


Inability to sell themselves.

What the hell? Am I applying for a real job, or a "position" as a cheap streetwalker? Get this - people don't "sell themselves" like they wanted to be a whore or a slave!

Not everyone can sell. Really. Some people are very introverted, or see it as dishonest to sell themselves. If the job doesn't involve selling, don't ask me to sell, especially myself.

Also, "brands" are for cattle, sheep, and consumer goods. I am not a "brand". I have no "brand". I am a human, not livestock or consumer goods.

Lifetime Job History Book

1) Not displaying all positions from time of Graduation to present
2) Incompleteness leaving out all jobs/positions the candidate has had.
3) No dates of college graduation and work experience starting in 1990 on someone who has been in the work force for 30 years. So you get an interview under false pretenses. Do you think you won't have to show up for an interview so somebody knows you are 50 and balding rather than 30 with 30 years ahead.

Holy cow! So someone with 20+ years experience has to write you a book of all of their jobs, even the lame ones that they took while figuring out that their degree in physical education didn't translate to the real world? Or do you only look at people who are under 30? How many ways do you want to discriminate?

Why is not indicating your age with a lengthy work history and a moldy degree "false pretenses"? Heck, I can't even remember all of the dinky little jobs I've held - and some that I do remember I wish I didn't!! This BS smells like someone who wants a convenient method for age discrimination to me.

Also, getting an interview under "false pretenses" is called "being competitive" and "not giving assholes like that recruiter an excuse to discriminate based on age". In reality, only the past 10 -15 years of experience are really relevant in tech. Software that I worked with 15 years ago has changed or isn't even in use now.

Stalker Friendly

1) No full coordinates on resume - address, phone numbers, email(s), etc.
2) No email address or not a complete address on the resume.

Excuse me? Are you planning on coming to my house? If not, you don't need my street address on my resume! I find the request invasive and downright creepy. I put the city and state I live in on it to give you a rough idea where I live. Anything else can wait until I fill out a W-4. After all, I don't know who has access to your garbage, or how well you handle personal data.

Seriously, if I don't give you a street address, or a home phone number, it's because I don't want you to have it at this point. Deal with it. It is not essential data for the recruitment process. You only need my street address if you are going to send me a written offer or a paycheck. At that point, you can ask me for it. But I'm not just handing it over because your forms require it or some such. Revise your forms and ATS to reflect reality and respect privacy.

Contradictory Recruiter

For each company the candidate worked for, I like to know about the company - how big, public traded, what do they do ? etc
For each position held, the following:
* Exact title
* Statement of responsibility
* Exact title of the person they reported to
* Several key accomplishments in that position
* I do not want to see a list of what they do everyday
* A statement of why they left the position
* How many people they supervised, and what type of employees

Then this guy goes on to say...

I hate LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG resumes, NO more that 2 pages if necessary! No one will read a long resume. Hiring managers especially -Remember that hiring managers are looking for key words, if those words are not there, forget it.

I can't believe this idiot. First he wants all sorts of irrelevant stuff (title reported to, why they left, accomplishment BS, and all the stuff about the company), then he kvetches about overly long resumes!!! The two page bit works with this level of excessive detail only if the person has only held 2 to 4 jobs in the past ten years. Otherwise, the kind of details he wants produces an irrelevant novel!!

Again, it's a coded way to discriminate on age. Also, stuff like who they reported to and why they left is not always their business, and can be discussed in an interview, not stuffed in to a resume.

Job Ad Laundry Lists and Other Nonsense

The Kitchen Sink

[omitted] has a great 3 months contract opportunity for a Programmer with at least 5 years minimum of the following skills AIX, SUN Solaris, UNIX, Windows NT, AS/400, VM, Windows 95, 390, Java, C, C++, DB2, Visual Cafe, Visual C++, HTML, Lotus Notes/Domino, Oracle, Perl, XML, DHTML, Informix, Lotus Script, Sybase, Visual Basic, Visual J++, VisualAge, Websphere, MQ Series, Oracle Application, SQL Server, Broadvision, Interwoven, LAN/WAN TCP/IP, Lotus 123, Lotus WordPro, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Word, Netscape, Net.Commerce, WinRunner, Rational Suite, and Jprobe,

I count 43 different skills in this laundry list!! They want 5+ plus years with all of that? Holy smoke! Such a programming god likely does not exist (some of those technologies haven't been in existance for five years when this was written), and sure wouldn't work for what you'll pay them. Please, come back to reality, and advertise for what you really need.

I blame the HR departments of companies for this. They stick in the job description any and every little thing that they can use to reject a candidate, or that they have heard somewhere that might be applicable to the job title. They need to stop it. I won't work for companies that don't know what they really need.

All That, and Travel Too!

Required is solid experience with:
1. UNIX; HP-UX shell scripting, tcl/tk, perl; UNIX administration desired
2. SQL; ORACLE is a must, DBA desired; MS SQL server, MySQL
3. JAVA; JAVA/Oracle applications and Tomcat/Apache server
4. MS Operating systems (NT, Win2000, ..)
5. Linux desired
6. HTML, web programming, web interface with Unix server
7. XML, EDI desired

Other requirements:
1. Good interpersonal skills to interface with co-workers and customers
2. Fluency in English
3. Willingness to travel extensively
4. Immediate availability desired

A flexible work environment and team atmosphere makes this a great place to work. We offer a competitive compensation package including health, dental, vision and life insurance, retirement and bonus plan.

US Citizens or Permanent Residents only. Local candidates preferred.

Oh, brother! Now, I am a multitalented generalist, but these yammerheads want a HP-UX sysadmin; Oracle, MS SQL, MySQL DBA; Java programmer; Oracle/Java application developer; MS Windows guru/admin; Linux sysadmin; Web front end coder in HTML; web programmer; Webmaster; XML EDI documentation tech writer; Communication/Sales wizard - who needs be available immediately and willing to travel too, but is local to Silicon Valley!! They expect that a paragon of this magnetude is just waiting around for them to post their job?

This posting demands "extensive" knowledge in five fields: Unix/Linux sysadmin, DBA with multiple databases, Java/Perl/Tcl/Tk programmer, Webmaster, and Tech Writer. They probably only want to pay $50K, too. What really hurts is that I *almost* qualify, but I don't have solid Java or EDI knowledge. If they really expect lots of people out there to have all of this, then mere mortals like myself had better just accept our pathetic inadequacy, resigning ourselves to minimum wage clerk jobs at Walmart.

Play Buzzword Bingo, Work for Options

[omitted] creates client retention and cross marketing software for the financial industry. Our products are aimed at enhancing the one-to-one relationship between the financial institution and its clients, while increasing advisor efficiencies. We are looking for developers to implement both back-end server software and front-end presentation layer software. [omitted] has an experienced, proven management team. The company is currently in the process of raising funds. Must initially be willing to work for stock options only.

Position - HTML Developer

Specific Description:

We have a server application that runs cross-marketing and client retention programs for financial services company. This server has a web based administration tool that is used to set up and maintain these campaigns. The administration tool also controls the deployment of configuration files to production and the reloading of production servers. The job will be to design and implement the administration interface using JSP/HTML in coordination with Java programmers who will be creating the back end servlets for the administration tool.
We also have a front-end application that displays financial information in conjunction with the output of the server application above. The job will also be to design and implement the front-end application user interface using JSP/HTML in coordination with Java programmers who will be creating the back end servlets for the front-end application.

3 Years JSP Authoring Experience
3 Years HTML Experience w/ Strong Cross Browser Knowledge
1 Year XSL Experience
Some Scripting Knowledge (Python, Perl, etc.)
Some Java knowledge

This is not an HTML Developer - this is a form/interface designer, who speaks gobbldygook and is a sucker for a buzzword laden business plan. This job ad was obviously written by marketing, or some other yammerhead with too much emotional investment in obfuscatory language (they love BS). Seriously, this is almost pure BS.

Another Laundry List

The Technical Lead is responsible for application design, development, and deployment of the [omitted] Market Web Channel based on complex business requirements for a robust and profitable site. He/She will provide technical leadership to the other engineers to ensure that the system meets our customer and business needs and performs to our requirements.

- BA/BS in Software Engineering / Computer Science or a related area
- 6 + years of experience should be in design, development, and implementation of multi-tiered cross platform software solutions
- At least 2 of the past 4 years must be utilizing Microsoft-based web technologies, including ASP, VB, COM, ADO or Commerce Server
- Significant experience desired with PL/SQL and Transact SQL using SQL Server and Oracle
- Experience with XML/XSLT, SSL, SOAP, WSDL desired.
- Experience with java and java-based platforms, including, servlets, JSP, JavaScript, EJB on Linux or Unix
- Proven understanding of web load and performance testing and tuning
- Experience with e-commerce servers such as J2EE, Biz Talk Server, and .NET desirable.
- Experience in building distributed, scalable and secure software architectures for Internet and Enterprise.
- Technical Lead of 3+ member engineering team for 2 or more years in at least one corporate, industrial-strength project, all phases from design to deployment

Translation: You have to been doing web before web was big, know both Microsoft and Unix technologies, know both front-end and back-end technologies in depth, and be able to sling BS buzzwords with the best of them. A preference for insecure Microft web technologies a must.

Another one that they probably only want to pay low market junior wages for.

Calling All Gods

* Knowledge of and proven experience with Java, JSP, XML, JNDI, CSS, and JavaScript.
* Detailed understanding of database integration utilizing technologies such as JDBC.
* Experience with application server environments such as WebLogic, WebObjects, or Tomcat is a large plus.
* Various multimedia skills including but not limited to: graphic design, layout, Flash, and HTML/JSP production.
* Intimate understanding of cross-browser compatibility and development including Netscape 4-7 and IE 5-6.
* Candidate should be artistic but primarily a web developer.
* Expertise in Photoshop and Illustrator are required, as is a firm understanding of production within the design constraints of the web (including browser differences, html limitations, palette issues, file sizes).
* Applicant must have a strong working knowledge of hand-coded HTML.
* Requires a minimum of 3-5 years of combined experience in information architecture and visual design for the web.

They want programming, database programming, app server administration, graphic design and multimedia, cross browser zen, artistic coder, more graphics skills, HTML hand coding, and combined graphic, production and programming for 3 - 5 years. I'm surprised they left out walking on water.

$20/hr Miracle Worker

Job Duties: Design
1. Update, maintain, add to and redesign [omitted].com as needed.
2. Improve graphics and design look of site, along with the usability and ease of navigation.
3. Create banners, HTML emails, landing pages, and other online marketing pieces.
4. Create cohesive look and distinctive brand for [omitted] marketing materials while focusing on achieving sales through direct response.
5. Some print design including magazine ads, business cards/letterhead & sales sheets.
6. Occasional web design consulting work for [omitted] clients.
7. Other duties as required in a small startup.

Job Duties: Marketing
1. Review competitors web sites on regular basis for competitive analysis. Work with marketing and sales teams to implement new content and increase conversions of site visitors to sales.
2. Develop special offers, lead capture devices and popups to change weekly on site.
3. Work with VP Marketing to plan and implement online advertising campaigns.
4. Compile statistics to analyze and optimize performance of marketing campaigns and track site visitors, cost per visitor/click, sales by source, etc.
5. Develop and produce monthly HTML newsletter to send to customer base.
6. Other duties as required in a small startup.

1. Proven professional experience designing and managing a commercial web site or sites.
2. Ability to create designs that SELL, both online and off.
3. Formal art & design education / training is preferred
4. A self-starter with proven track record of success producing designs and marketing materials that sold products, in addition to presenting a strong and consistent brand image.
5. More than two years of professional experience with basic Internet usage such as Email and the Web is required.
6. Requires proficiency with Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator and/or similar design software.
7. Ability to understand and code HTML, and detailed knowledge of compatibility issues, browser testing, graphics optimization for the web etc. is also required.
8. A four-year college degree is preferred.
9. Javascript, CGI, Perl or other scripting experience is a plus.
10. Direct marketing, online marketing or media planning experience are plusses.

Up to $20 per hour depending on experience, plus possible commission on consulting work for clients.

Lets see: a degree (plus student debt), marketing, sales, graphics, programming, HTML, statistics, print publishing, UI design, and even project management. For only $20/hr, plus a possible commission on outside work? What kind of idiot with a degree and all those skills would work for that little? Sure enough, they'll whine that there aren't enough "qualified citizens", and hire a couple H1b workers as indentured servants for $10/hr each.

There are more like this. These people thing you should be slavering all over yourself to apply to and fight to get these jobs. If you find your company generating a lot of this type of crap, pushing bogus and ultimately unsatisfying job "requirements", and want a way out of the trap, check out Human Workplace.

This page created September 18, 2002. Last updated 5/1/2015