Stop "fine tuning" your resume and, you know, just make yourself useful, or something...

Lately I’ve been reading the del.icio.us popular items RSS feed. A recurring theme in the feed are blog posts talking about ways to “improve” your resume.

The last such post, Let’s Fine Tune Your Resume, provides the ultimate example: a post pointing to other posts about “improving” your resume. Yes, a meta-resume-tuning post! The job-seeker’s dream! No wonder people complain they can’t get their “dream job”: they are spending all their time reading blogs packed with resume-tweaking wisdom!

If I wanted to hire somebody for a job (and this holds for any job), I would look for the following main qualities:

Do you think you can convince me of your deep passion for this job by adding some clever keywords to your resume? Or that you’ll trick me into thinking you have outstanding skills by improving the look & feel of said resume? Maybe you are really convinced making your resume “accomplishments-driven, not responsibilities-driven” will really help me see what kind of work culture you are comfortable with?

Here is what I think: not only all this “fine tuning” won’t help, but it might actually irritate your potential employer. There is nothing I hate more in a resume than a whiff of not-quite-honest.

When I review a resume, I want to see indications of the qualities listed above. For example:

And no, I am not saying that you shouldn’t try to have a well-presented resume, or that you shouldn’t use the darned spell-checker before you mail it. And I am in no way saying it is better if you don’t bother converting the thing to PDF and just send them that nasty MS Word file, either. These are just the basic things that will prevent the reader from clawing their eyes out when they see it, no more, no less.

If you want your resume to really stand out, stop wasting time reading “fine tuning” blog posts, and get on with finding and cultivating your passion(s), improving your skills and learning what kind of worker you really are. It will show through in your resume. Really.