In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion reads the paper
I’ve been working among humans for decades, and I’ve learned a thing or two. (For instance, they like bosses to have an open door, but hate it if you leave the stall door open.) In an effort to make the world a better place, I’ve decided to share some of the important things I’ve learned.
Unless you’re a Kardashian, you’re probably going to have to get a job. Don’t fight it. It will finally give a conversationally appropriate answer when people ask, “What do you do?” and will go a long way toward making you tolerable to society.
If the job you’re looking for starts with an application, there is some bad news and good news. The bad news: your manager is probably going to be a twenty-two-year-old named Jayden who thinks Family Guy is hilarious. The good news: an application is a very hard thing to screw up.
There are only a few things you need to get right.
If you can manage to do all three, the job is yours. If you can manage to do two out of three, you’re probably still in the running.
But ideally you’re going to end up looking for a job that starts with a resume and not an application. Be forewarned that with the greater rewards come greater risks. Resumes are surprisingly tricky, because there are about a million things they shouldn’t be, but only one thing they should be. (See table.)
There are literally hundreds of resume tips and rules and you should do some serious searching online to bore yourself with all of them. (If you can’t handle this level of boredom and wasting time online, you may not be ready for a job.) To help you get started, here are five basic tips:
You think you’re the first person who ever tried to obscure your unimpressive employment history with buzzwords? Instead of “learned organizational systems and used best practices for the archival of mission-critical documents,” do us all a favor and say, “filed papers.” Companies might be looking for someone who can stand filing; they are probably not looking for someone who speaks self-important nonsense. (Chances are they already have plenty of that.)
Everyone has had duties, but fewer have had accomplishments. Starting a sentence with “Responsible for…” is ridiculous. I mean, Jeffrey Dahmer had responsibilities, but you probably wouldn’t have wanted him for a personal assistant. (Yes, hindsight is 20/20.) Don’t overdo it, but try to work in words or phrases like, “achieved,” “accomplished,” “was recognized for,” “was able to,” or “bench pressed.”
Do you think all of your jobs were super interesting all the time? Now just imagine how the people who weren’t there feel. (Don’t be a resume trollop. Save something for the interview.) If your resume were like Google Maps, you’d want the zoom somewhere between the 2 mile and 10 mile keys.
You can’t. Generally, if you were able catch your own errors, you wouldn’t have made them. You could try asking a real-life friend to help you, but if you really want the third degree (and have enough self-esteem to avoid self-harm or drug problems), ask your not-real-life friends on social media to go over it. You won’t have to worry about anyone sparing your feelings, and chances are you have a couple of pathetic friends who have tried to build a sense of self worth by pointing out all the flaws others make. (Such people are seldom tolerable, but, in this case, they can at least be helpful.)
You might feel the temptation to stand out not by your qualifications, but by your hot-pink paper, or your whimsical font choice. Knock it off. Getting creative with your resume is like playing the state lotto: it rarely works out and the vast majority who try it are losers. Stick to the basics.
Follow these tips and you too should be working among humans in no time.
One or Two Pages?
Many people think their work life is interesting enough to justify a two-page resume, and many are wrong. There is no formula to know for sure how long your resume should be, but if you can answer yes to any of these questions, you had better cut your resume down to a single page.
- Is there anything related to high school on my resume?
- Does my resume contain any information about my pets?
- Am I related to any of my references?
- Am I twenty-four or younger?
- Have I included a glamour shot?