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January 23, 2009

Extreme Resume Weeding for Recessionary Times


Everyone thinks recessions are bad, and if you end up unemployed, a recession is undoubtedly bad for you. But let’s be honest: In many ways, it rocks for the rest of us, especially CEOs.


We still have our jobs, and while it may be a little more difficult to perform it successfully, at least we face a little less competition thanks to all you sloths who have been downsized, and all you marginal companies who went under.


Best of all, when we advertise to fill a position, we get a lot more people to choose from than we usually get! Now, as columnist Morry Stettner points out, this is a bit of a mixed blessing, as it also means you have more work to do sifting through the resumes.


I would add this caveat as well: A lot of the people who lose their jobs during a recession got spit out by the economy for a reason. Recessions are when you can’t afford to keep people around who don’t produce, but by the same token, you can’t afford not to keep people around who produce at a high level. Presumably the newly unemployed fit into the former category and not the latter.


Stettner recommends some steps to weed out the weaker candidates from among your resume pile – stuff like e-mailing them and asking them to respond to a specific question in two days, then eliminating anyone who doesn’t.


That all makes sense, but I’d like to recommend some weeding steps of my own. These will cut down the pile so fast, it will look like a full-employment-era pool before you know it!


  1. Anyone who lists an objective on their resume is out. I know what your objective is! To get a job! That’s why you made a resume. If you thought I needed to be told that, you would be impossible to have around. Next!


  1. Anyone who lists their high school under the education section is out. If your qualifications are so thin that you need to include this to pad the resume, take your credentials and head over to Taco Bell. Oh, and while you’re going, do they still have Chalupas? Those were delicious.


  1. Anyone who got a degree in “general studies” is out. I realize there is much we can learn from our fine, decorated generals, but seriously, don’t you think you should get a more well-rounded education than just learning about Patton, MacArthur, Grant, et al?


  1. Anyone who uses more than one font on the resume is out. If you would expend the time required to change fonts on your resume – an action that delivers no value whatsoever – how might you waste time working for me?


  1. Anyone who lists their home phone number above their cell phone number is out. If you still think of your home phone as your primary phone number, you are going to be harder than I prefer to get ahold of in case of an emergency, which I define as any time I feel like getting in touch with you. To my way of thinking, clinging to home phone service is acceptable only as a last-ditch fallback in case you lose your signal or something. And even then, why would you give the number out? I have no idea if you’re home, but I know you have your cell phone with you. Or you should, speaking of which . . .


  1. This one will eliminate a lot of people. Call the applicant’s cell phone. If they don’t answer right away, they’re out! I might be persuaded to grant amnesty to anyone who calls me back within 10 minutes, tops, but that’s it. What’s the reason for this one? Have you ever had an employee who didn’t always carry their cell phone with them, or didn’t always keep it turned on? What planet are these people living on? I don’t think I’ve turned my phone off the entire time I’ve had it. (The time I dropped it in the lake doesn’t count because I didn’t mean to do that.) Why would you ever turn off your phone? What? There’s a sign at the library that says you have to? Then don’t go to the library!


  1. Anyone who writes “references available upon request” is out. Why are you going to make me go to the trouble of requesting them? Give me the references. And while I understand why you don’t list your current employer, you’d better believe I want all other previous employers. Oh, and if you list your mother (and you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen this), you’re out!


  1. Anyone who describes themselves as “enthusiastic” or “eager to learn” is out. Because that’s stupid. If you say you “love people,” I’ll let it slide as long as you make an exception for me.


There. That should make the process a lot easier. And hey! What are you doing re-reading it? Save yourself the trouble. You don’t have a chance.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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