“Don’t believe everything you read.” That’s good advice at any time, but as I was reading this article about the 8 traits that trump the resume, it made me think about some of the resumes and cover letters I’ve seen that made me laugh out loud. Having read, literally, thousands of resumes and cover letters over the last fifteen years, unfortunately, it seems the more perfect the resume the more scrutiny it deserves. It may be just me, but I have come to believe that a resume is a marketing/PR tool that can be manipulated to say just about anything, so everything needs to be fact checked with people who can provide “color” to any text.
So looked through some old files and found some classic examples from real resumes from people I know and could compare their resume to reality. These are some examples (slightly edited by removing company or product names).
PS – Any resemblance to text from a reader’s resume is purely coincidental.
What the resume says: As the manager of the help desk, I worked with other managers to build relationships with many departments across our global organization. I developed a team that was recognized as one with great team spirit and strong relationships and as a result I was assigned to a new group that was struggling with similar issues.
What it should have said: When I was the manager of the help desk I spent most of my time personally handling any help desk calls that came from senior executives of our company. I was the personal help desk engineer for our C-Level executives and spent most of my time on their floor. My department was so poorly managed that the entire team united against me and complained to HR, which resulted in an intervention and my eventual transfer to another department where I no longer manage people.
Grace Under Pressure
Resume: As a part of the CFO team that managed the three acquisitions completed in the last four years I was with the company, I have become adept at handling complex transactions and high pressure situations.
Reality: I was the CFO’s regular golfing partner, so every time I was at risk of being laid-off he found something for me to do on special projects. Unfortunately, during the last acquisition I managed to upset the CFO of the company we were acquitting so much with my whining, he asked for my removal from the team.
Integrity and Moral Fiber
Resume: As the President of our largest division I was responsible for the operations of the company across the world. Because of the high standards I set for performance, and personal and regular visits to our operating facilities, the division met all revenue and profitability objectives and was the most profitable group in the company.
Reality: As the President of the division, I did everything I could to bury bad news and manipulated the cost structure of our products by reducing quality and selling an inferior product to our customers to make my numbers look good. I had multiple extra-marital affairs and used my regular “operations review” trips as the cover for my visits to my various “friends” across the globe. My expense report regularly included “client entertainment” expenses even though I rarely met with actual clients.
Resume: Because of my work ethic, great understanding of operations, and strong performance I was promoted to VP of Operations.
Reality: I regularly claimed to be “working from home” and that I was on multiple conference calls early in the morning with our Asian operations and therefore not available for any meetings before 10:00am. After about six months of successfully working less than a couple of hours per day, during a re-organization project, the outside consultant working with our CEO figured it out and I was fired. Oh, the reason I was promoted to VP initially was because I found a way to automate an operations report and cut the time required to complete it from hours to minutes so my reports were always on time (even though I had no idea what they meant).
Resume: As a sales person, my good sense of humor and easy going personality enables me to interact with many levels inside the manufacturing organization and deliver great service to my clients.
Reality: I had a great relationship with the team on the manufacturing floor workers and we frequently exchanged sexually explicit jokes and pictures via e-mail. Unfortunately when I was promoted and transferred to an office environment, and was asked to sell to a higher level within client organizations, I offended so many people they had to transfer me back to selling to production floor supervisors. (How my client allowed this one to keep his job, I am still trying to figure out)
Resume: My career with the company spanned six years in a number of positions with progressively larger responsibilities.
Reality: Everyone thought I was a smart person so they moved me around to get exposure and find my niche. After failing to impress multiple supervisors, they finally figured out I was all talk and no action so they fired me.
Resume: My experience in the military has honed my leadership abilities and prepared me for any position of responsibility.
Reality: I was a desk clerk with a Non-Commissioned-Officer rank because I had a college education. I never lead anyone and the only responsibility I had was to submit inventory reports on time.
Resume: During the final stages of the company reorganization I was put in charge of the team that closed a number of plants. Despite the challenging environment, I maintained good relationships with the workforce and managed the plant closure without any negative incidents.
Reality: I was put in charge of the plant closure team because nobody wanted me around the office because of my negative attitude. Thankfully the HR director on the transition team was a real people person and he kept everyone positive.
What are your favored examples?