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Revealing Resumes

We run a systematic hiring process for sales positions.  We have refined the process over the past 14 years and have it optimized (even though when we started we were writing newspaper employment ads!).  As part of any hiring process, you have to receive resumes of respondents to the ad.  This is where things are changing.

A new trend I am seeing is resumes with copy and paste information from job descriptions, websites, etc.  What I mean is candidates do not take the time to write about their skills and experience in their current or previous roles.  They simply use web/marketing copy that they paste into their resume.  I have also seen many resumes with the job description information pasted into their experience.

For example:

“You will call on mid-market companies to sell our cloud-based service.”

That is someone’s experience for their current job.  Amazing.  What is worse is that this position is selling marketing services.

I like to remind hiring managers that this is the best the candidate has to offer.  The interview process should reveal the best of what they have to offer, from writing to phone discussions to follow-up.  If their best in this phase isn’t good enough for the role, do not expect improvement if you add them to your sales team.

5 Tips For Hiring A Sales Manager

This Selling Power article is a quick, solid read.  The 5 tips are all on point with this one being my favorite:

2) Metrics without context. Your candidate noted that his or her team closed $2 million in sales last year. That’s great. But what was the quota? What were the expectations? Was this half of what your potential new hire and the team were expected to do? Or did they not only exceed quota, but also outperform every other sales team at the company? Don’t rely on metrics alone; your candidate should provide context that tells the whole story.

So much of resume information is devoid of context yet many hiring managers buy into the information.  Every candidate seems to have some remarkable numbers/statistics/results in their resume, but far fewer provide the context to define the success they claim.  Always look for this information in the resume.  If you have a candidate that you would like to pursue, it is certainly a good practice to contact that candidate and ask for clarification.

Overused Adjective

I am spending an inordinate amount of time reviewing resumes and one particular word keeps appearing throughout many of the resumes.  The word is…


Perhaps the most insipid phrase is this – “proven track record.”

Every time I see this phrase I immediately want the candidate to prove it.  In most instances, the quoted achievement would be difficult to prove to an outsider.  That fact makes this throw-away phrase easy to included.  My personal take is to have the candidates simply state their record in numbers.

The Value Of An Updated Resume

I am stuck in an ongoing cycle of sourcing.  Just when I am about to be worn down, I come across a resume that lists the candidate’s technical skills.  The first thing listed:

-MS Windows 98

Seriously…Win98?  My guess (hope) is that the candidate simply has overlooked that part of his resume for years.  That is about the only explanation because I certainly hope he isn’t touting his technical proficiency with an operating system from 13-14 years ago.

Resume Writing

I am filtering through many resumes right now and having a wonderful time examining some of the unique stylings of candidates.  Some flavor:

-One candidate listed his core competencies…TWENTY FOUR of them

-Another stated this, “Subject Matter Expert in dilemma analysis.”

-Another misspelled his name – his name

Never ceases to amaze me when sourcing.

Most Overused Word

My vote for the most overused word in resumes:


It has become cliché in my eyes.

Communicate They Do Not

One of my favorite anecdotal websites is Killian Advertising’s Cover Letters From Hell.  I promise you will laugh so check it out.  In the meantime, here is a sample of the some “unique” writing:

“It is my desire to develop and generate the revolving scheme to filter to the consuming public in.”

“I’m looking for work because even though my company was profitable last year, this year they are expecting a large defecate.”

“A flaw that I must point out because it even bothers me is that I am impatient. I hate waiting, but then again who does?”

Mind Your Address

It just doesn’t seem so difficult to figure this out, but candidates keep using their personal email addresses that seem to date back to their college days.  Of course, there wasn’t email when I was in college…different story.

Here is one I came across today:

Unbelievable.  Instead of considering his candidacy, I am left with thoughts of the potentially peculiar shape of his head.

Odd Resume Inclusions

In first reading this I thought I was reading a line from one of Jeff Foxworthy’s jokes, “You know you are a redneck if you write on your resume, “hobbies include sitting on the levee at night watching alligators.”  Nope, this is one of many odd resume inclusions from an article on CareerBuilder.  If you have ever run a recruiting process you probably can come up with your own list, but CareerBuilder has put together some beauties:

  • Candidate included that he spent summers on his family’s yacht in Grand Cayman.
  • Candidate attached a letter from her mother.
  • Candidate used pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border.
  • Candidate explained a gap in employment by saying it was because he was getting over the death of his cat for three months.
  • Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday was “drinkin’ time.”
  • Candidate included a picture of herself in a cheerleading uniform.
  • Candidate drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager’s gift.
  • Candidate included the fact that her sister once won a strawberry eating contest.
  • Candidate explained that he works well nude.
  • Candidate explained an arrest by stating, “We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.”
  • Candidate included family medical history.

Finding Fibs On A Resume

In reviewing the HRGURU newsletter I ran across a good article on finding fibs in resumes.  It gives some sound advice to follow so you are not discovering these lies on the resume after a person starts.  The 5 tips:

  • Get an early read about the candidate’s visible profile. Look for a candidate’s public profile by reviewing announcements, articles and other material that often can be found easily online. You do need to gauge how much stock you’ll put into whatever you find—good or bad—because you can’t always believe what you read.
  • Confirm academic credentials early.
  • Gain consensus on the reference checking process.  Who is going to perform it and what information is important for you to learn.
  • Seize the opportunity in the interview. The interview is a good opportunity to ask candidates about their experience and education and how, exactly, they’ve delivered the results they’ve claimed on paper.
  • Background check (emphasis is mine).  This is a great time to get academic verification done also.

Too many times I have seen interviews in which the interviewer only verifies the dates, titles and responsibilities of what a candidate writes on their resume.  The interview is a great time for you to dig into the accomplishments and find out more details of how they achieved what they claim they achieved.  It’s amazing what you can learn form just a couple of straight-forward, probing questions.

I once interviewed a candidate who had amazing accomplishments listed on his resume – seemed like a great candidate.  After a couple of simple questions about how he achieved these many successes, he quickly told us that he just happened to answer the phone at the right time.  How is that for sales ability?  You could say he really didn’t sell himself.  The position required the ability to develop a brand new territory so he was ruled out at that point.

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