Someone sent me this résumé advice as a curiosity, and curious I found it, indeed:
Instead of putting your name and objective at the top of your resume, try this technique. Make a single sentence headline about yourself that is so intriguing or funny or descriptive or unique or creative that it breaks through the clutter and gets read.
On the surface, it sounds like reasonable advice, but for two snags. I should start by noting that interviewing prospective hires is a small part of my job, and not something I’m doing all the time. Perhaps someone who does it constantly would have a different view. Or perhaps the view would be different for someone in another industry.
So, that said, the first snag is that I don’t start by looking at the applicant’s name, or other such information that’s likely to be heading the résumé. That’s not the most important stuff on there, and I also wouldn’t want to take even the small risk that things like the name or address would prompt me to pre-judge the applicant.
No, the first thing I look at is what your goals are and what you’ve done already. And for those, I don’t need nor want something cute or catchy, but something clear and concise, something that really tells me why you’re here and what you want to do, and what skills and experience you bring with you. I will say that this should certainly be “unique”; it’s of no use to say, “This is a great company, and I’d really like to work here.”
The next thing I’ll do is go to Google and see what I can find about you, so make sure there’s something out there that shows off your professional credentials. I’ll look over some of your publications, and I’ll note where they were published, how mature the work was, and how clearly it was communicated.
The rest of it — education, references, name, hobbies, or “headline” — comes later, and means far less. References, in particular, are things I usually find pretty useless. You have to have them, of course, but unless you’ve specifically picked references I’m likely to know personally or professionally (if you’ve really done a good job putting your résumé together, you have, but I rarely see that), I’ll have to go looking for references on my own, anyway, and that’ll wait until I’ve already decided that you’ve made the first cut.
The other snag is the list of examples of “creative” headlines, which includes these:
I married the prettiest girl in my small town high school, proof positive I can sell myself; just think what I can do for the widgets of ABC.
Voted “most likely to succeed,” when I should have been voted “most likely to help ABC develop killer products.”
I was MVP for a state championship team in high school, voted on by my peers.
If I saw these, my response would be, “WTF?” I’d think of the first two as negative points, attempts to be cutesy at the expense of real substance. For the third, I would wonder why you thought that mattered at all. Even the best of the suggestions would be no better than neutral for me.
Again, maybe that’s because I don’t do this day in and day out, and my eyes are not just glazed over by one more résumé.
So do any of my readers interview job candidates regularly? Do any of you have comments that agree or differ? Would the catchy headlines truly catch your eye and make you look further, saving this applicant from being stacked on the endless heap?