• A selection of answers:

    What is the importance of mentioning our current address in our resume?

    No. Never. Not because you will be discriminated against but because you could be (based upon the economic status of your neighborhood). Don’t risk it. * First name & surname * Geographic region (Chicagoland, San Francisco Bay Area, New York / Newark) * Phone number * Email address† Your resume isn’t a legal doc…

    Is an optional cover letter really optional?

    Generally, yes. I’ve never read a cover letter. Scratch that, I’ve read my own and that of a few friends. At some point in my life I must’ve read at least one applicant’s but damn if I can remember it. In general, I do send one because god fucking forbid I apply to the one place that wants one (I se…

    What are the best typefaces to use in a resume?

    What are the best tips for writing a resume? Arial or Calibri. (But I prefer the former). I admit that I fucking hate Times New Roman (and all serif fonts). Still, professional recruiters tend to develop patterns and in all my years recruiting, I’ve heard it over and over again, how recruiters all ha…

    When is it a good idea to use emojis in a resume or job application?

    What are the best tips for writing a resume? Never. [Literally, got an emoji filled resume yesterday and posted a comment on Facebook which now precipitated this question]. In the US, it’s highly inadvisable unless you’re applying for an artsy-fartsy field of employment (that’s the technical term), tha…

    How much history should you include on a resume?

    A good rule of thumb is 10 years except if the previous experience is exceptional. What is exceptional? You’ll know it when you have it. When in doubt, it’s not really exceptional. Anything beyond 10 years, you’ve almost certainly forgotten (even the exceptional stuff … but you’re putting that on th…

    When you’re ready to hire someone, what’s one little thing that will make you totally ignore someone’s resume or CV?

    (US/Anglosphere answer) Not much, really. There are things that make resumes stand out in negative ways for me: * Pictures of any kind, including a photo of themselves. The picture of themselves may be the ONLY “one off” reason I run from a resume. * Too long. Jeezis people. Honestly. Do you REALLY think y…


    I’m including some updates in this answer. If you’ve read it once, take a look at my additions.

    How to write a good resume for North American employers? Listen up friends from overseas. I’m writing this for your benefit. I live and breathe resumes for a living. I’ve seen it all. You too can have a good resume. All it takes is a bit of work and refining your communication style.

    I’m also super blunt, I swear a TON and I use a lot of robust, confrontational expression. Don’t be offended. But do take my advice.

    Remove the word “involved” from your resumes. This is a huge issue if you’re from the Indian Sub-Continent. The cultural attitude is “you are a contributor on a team; subordinate to strong leadership.” That’s perfectly good. In the US, when we see that, we ask, “What the fuck does that even mean? Were you —like— involved by way of making coffee for the team? Did you clean their desks?” Never say that word again. If you did it, say what you did. Use action words. Use action words.

    Never say “participated” again. “I participated in daily debrief meetings.” Nobody cares what you participated in. How did you contribute to the meetings? Did you just sit like a wallflower and do nothing? Then don’t say anything. So what, you’re shy. That’s okay. Don’t apply for jobs where you need to be “not shy”. Apply for jobs where that’s okay. If that’s the kind of job you’re after, then they won’t need to hear you lie and pretend to have done otherwise. If you DID participate in the daily meetings, then say, “Led meetings from time to time, discussed blah blah blah.”

    Stop saying “we”. Nobody gives a shit about what your team did. They care about you. They’re not hiring your old team — they’re hiring you. If you did it, say you did it; describe what you did. Remember that admonition about using action words/phrases? Good. Glad you remember that.

    Don’t say, “worked in …”. Nobody cares what you worked in. Say what you did. “Achieved in stock audit percentages at 96% in a $50-million-dollar store” works way better than, “Worked in $50-million-dollar store.”

    Don’t say “responsible”/ “accountable”. If you were “responsible for supervising 56 employees”, then use the action sentence: “Supervised 56 employees.” If you were “accountable for delivering monthly status reports”, then say, “Delivered monthly status reports.”

    Stop using fluff words. Don’t call your experience, “Rich, deep Java experience.” One — you aren’t making pornography. You’re doing whatever it is you do for a living. (Which, I guess could be pornography. High five.) Nobody wants your fluff words on the page. Be curt and direct. Two — nobody wants to read a hundred-page resume that is fluffed with useless adjectives/adverbs. Other fluff words are “dynamic” – no you’re not. Stop saying it. In fact, just remove all adjectives and adverbs unless they are specific and measurable to the task you performed.

    Never say “I”. You shouldn’t be speaking in first person anyway in a resume. You’re not being graded for using perfect sentences with subject, verb thingamajiggers. Use action sequence statements. “Delivered 18 pizzas per day. Achieved customer satisfaction award three months in a row.”

    No strange colors or pictures. You don’t have to put symbols of all your certifications in the header/footer section. The resume should be mostly text, perhaps some bullets. No crazy shit. You’re not an artist (but if you’re an artist, go ahead and do the crazy stuff).

    Align the declension of your verbs, tense and other such words. Your current job is present. “[I] Make coffee. [I] Print TPS reports.” See, the “I” is implied. Just leave it out. Your past jobs are all simple past tense. “Planted rows of corn. Murdered kittens in barn. Hid bodies under sister’s bed.”

    Friggin spell / grammar check a hundred times. Have someone else read it. Seriously. Why do I even need to say this? If you’re sending your resume in the US, you need to change your language settings to US English (and vice versa in the UK or wherever else you’re sending it). We say, “specialize”, “color”, “program”, “labor” and “mechanize” (etc). Your spell-checking software should be updated accordingly.

    Do NOT be afraid to put “Mr” or “Ms.” (only “Ms”; not “Miss” or “Mrs.” given that the former indictates no marital status and that is nobody’s business) in front of your name. Why? Because if you’re from a part of the world where Westerners may not know the difference between a male or female name (or if your name conveys none — even in the west that happens), this will help alleviate using the wrong pronoun and causing embarrassment. If you are worried about gender discrimination in your line of work; then leave that off. Your call.

    If you did it, list it. If you didn’t do it, don’t say you did it. This cuts to the truth of the matter. Here’s an ugly stereotype American recruiters have of foreign resumes, in particular from India. This will hurt: “They’re all total liars.” One tiny mistake on your resume makes you a stereotype. I do NOT approve of prejudicial lazy generalizations — ever. But I work in this industry. I hear what my peers say. I read the LinkedIn posts. Don’t be a stereotype.[1]

    Shorter is better. Do you really need a six-page resume for your eight years of experience? This recruiter gives you permission to use a two-page resume or maybe —just maybe— three if the experience is diverse and extensive. If not, it goes in the trash. Does your job description of your most recent assignment honestly need a page and a half? I don’t believe you. Not for a second. You’ve got TWO pages for a resume or maybe THREE if you’re really super good. Unless you’re someone I desperately need, I refuse to look at resumes longer than two pages. Don’t bother. Impress the shit out of your recruiter and keep it short and sweet. [2]

    How do you do that? Stop sending stock resumes. Write a stock resume and then adjust it for the client in question. Your stock resume can be a hundred trillion pages for all I care. But you better pare it down and use the company’s lingo when you submit it. If you worked at Google or Facebook (pretty much the top of the pyramid for any developer) for two years as a contractor, you get ten bullet points to describe your experience. That experience —if the most recent one— should not take up more than a half page. Many of the things you do are implied if you’re a “Java Developer”. Nobody needs to know what magical tool you used. Stick with the really important success stories of what you did.

    Adjust your resume if you’re submitting it to a client that mentioned that super-dee-duper rare tool you used. If they didn’t ask for it, then assume that your resume will be the “appetizer” and your interview will be the main course. Keep it short and sweet. If you have 15 years as a Java Developer, you don’t need to list every single thing you did at every single job. List the most recent five jobs if you’ve been doing the same thing. List the technologies you touched (comma separated). List four or five successes. Then just list the jobs after that going back ten years. You’re okay to say, “I have 15 years of experience” but leave off anything from the list that goes beyond 10. It’s not an application for employment w/ background check. It’s a resume.

    Research stock US resumes. I find it appalling that in some countries people mention race, religion, tribe, etc. Do not EVER do that here. Ever. Never ever ever! Don’t ever send your picture.

    Nobody cares about your hobbies or community activities unless it’s relevant to the job you do. Even then, leave it out.

    Stop ending your resume with “references available upon request”. You’re not conveying new information and I submit they already know you’ll furnish them if asked.


    Additional details listed as numbers above [1] or [2] etc.:

    [1] I have a lot to say on this and I really do mean it when I say that this kind of generalization and racism disgusts me. One, it’s hypocritical. I know as a recruiter that all people lie; there are not perfectly honest human beings. When Americans arbitrarily decide that Indians are liars, they’re overtly saying, “Our lies are okay; their’s aren’t.” I don’t suffer that.

    But permit me to split some hairs so that you can (a) understand where this comes from (understanding is important) and (b) understand how to address it when you see and experience it. I’ve said this a billion times, there are few groups of people that I respect and adore more than Indians. Yeah, that’s a bit of reverse racism, but I mean this more culturally. There are some cultures that I like and some that I love. I have an awkward fascination with India. I want every immigrant to come to the US and be successful.

    So why are the lies that Indians tell different than the lies non-Indians tell? I’m going to paraphrase the director of an Indian contracting firm that I work with, who explained to me why it’s different. Per him, “In India, the only thing you can trust, that consistently works for you is family. Companies and government, people you don’t know and organizations are all out to fuck you. They are corrupt. Some of them are so totally corrupt that they create a system whereby lying to them balances the equation. Why be honest with them, if they are working to fuck you over? Indians bring that value to the US without realizing that while there are certainly organizations that are corrupt and will fuck you over here, it’s nothing like the way it is in India. So in their heads, it’s okay to lie to get ahead even if it means creating totally fraudulent resumes.”

    What are the best typefaces to use in a resume?


    [2] Shorter is better? Okay, I allowed a three page resume here because it was really good, it was diverse and it would be really hard to shorten it to two pages and express what this lady has done (all personal details have been changed). A three or four page resume is not —honestly— a kiss of death. But it can be. I’m not double-talking here. Stick with two unless you have the length of history and chops to make it three, but please … no more than that.

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