Job-seekers, are you 20 years behind the times?
According to an online column by 25-year Human Resources veteran Liz Ryan, too many applicants pepper their resumé with meaningless clichéd phrases ("superior communication skills," "strong work ethic," etc.). These phrases once pressed all the right buttons with employers but now tag you as uncreative and vocabulary challenged.
Ryan urges applicants to be creative, stop sounding like robots, and write with a "human voice." All well and good, but I can't help thinking about the ironies involved in all the hoop-jumping that goes with getting off the unemployment line.
Creative? Why do you have to be creative to punch a time clock at a company cranking out cheap knockoffs of brand-name products??? Maybe it would be a breath of fresh air if an applicant cut through all the "We'll be in touch" foolishness. ("Since being laid off, I've created 372 recipes for ramen noodles! Is that creative enough for you? I need this job yesterday, you sanctimonious suit!!!!")
Robot? Okay, you restrain yourself from squawking "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" So what does it get you? Best-case scenario, the interviewer beams, "Congratulations on not sounding like a robot! You start Monday as a cog in our corporate machine. You will henceforth be a number, proudly upholding the values of our founder, #45986 Senior."
Human voice? Okay, but once you get the job, you have to forget about talking like a normal person ever again. You can spend all day gushing things like, "Why, no, it's no trouble getting your size 13 feet into a size six pump, ma'am. It's my pleasure." Of course a person with a "human voice" would be screaming, "You vain Amazon! I'd choke you myself if you weren't already choking on that triple greaseburger!"
Ryan's article ("10 Boilerplate Phrases That Kill Resumés") oversimplifies the issue. Being honest and creative may help in certain situations, but there are some honest, creative phrases that would still throw up red flags in a resumé. For example:
"met or exceeded expectations of my first boss--while charging up San Juan Hill."
"bi-lingual -- at least the voices in my head are."
"consider myself to be a real white people person"
"In my defense, I wouldn't have groped the secretary if I had known he was a dude."
"work well with federal investigators"
"bottom-line, the tracking anklet usually lets me know when my crazy ex-lovers have found my workplace..."
"a real self-starter -- as long as I maintain a high-fiber diet"
"have bagpipes, will travel"
a real team player -- and speaking of teams, my eight children's soccer teams are selling..."
"a results-oriented professional -- as long as the results are that you heathens denounce the Universal Product Code as the Mark of the Beast...
Except for seeking new subscribers, I haven't had to struggle with resumés for several years, and I count myself truly fortunate. There but by the grace of God go I, and a big bowl of ramen noodles a la pressed possum. (Hmm. "Superior gag reflex ethic...")
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at email@example.com.