So Much for First Impressions...
Resumes and cover letters are often the first things seen by hiring managers and the deciding factors that determine whether or not you get a job interview. Armed with that knowledge, most people spend copious amounts of time crafting them, honing them, and even paying professionals to write it for them.
And then there are those who don’t.
The following examples will likely be difficult to believe, but there really are some people out there who give zero thought to how they come across to potential employers. Their resumes are misspelled, lack any and all semblance of grammar, and often contain wildly inappropriate (yet hilarious) personal information.
Here are seven things you should definitely not do to your resume/cover letter if you ever want to be taken seriously (and to avoid the Internet's Hall of Shame).
Know When to Hold 'Em, When to Fold 'Em
With all due respect to Kenny Rogers, when you’re dealing with resumes it’s best not to morph into The Gambler.
A man known only as “Eric” submitted one of the more epic resumes in recent memory when he hailed himself as someone who would “claw my way to the top using any means necessary…but then be a fair and just ruler.” He also listed “ESP” and “sexy dancing” as employable attributes. Also, under experience he cites “a very fast metabolism” and “enough knowledge to write an essay on pretty much any subject (without researching it).”
Ever hear the phrase “too much of a good thing?”
When it comes to this real-life viral resume, upon first glance items such as “intuitive understanding of supply and demand economics,” “ran my own delivery service,” “had a consistent clientele with high customer satisfaction,” and “good with money” all seem like good things.
Except for the fact that all of these skills were garnered as a “Marijuana dealer & nefarious dude.”
Let this be a reminder that you don't have to include every job you've ever had.
A Grave Mistake
It’s a good idea to target specific companies for which you want to work during your job search. You should learn about them, what’s happening with them in the news, what the company’s financial state is, etc. And it’s a great idea to get leads on when internal job openings are being posted.
But this guy took things too far when he tried to dance on someone’s grave.
This overeager jobseeker noticed the Technical Director of a company had died, and then mistook that as a chance to get his foot in the door by applying for the deceased’s job. His cover letter stated “Each time I apply for a job, I get a reply that there’s no vacancy but in this case I have caught you red-handed and you have no excuse because I even attended the funeral to be sure that he was truly dead and buried before applying.”
He then attached a copy of the man’s death certificate along with his resume. Yup. Just let that classiness wash over you for a second.
Caught in a (Nic) Cage
Vanessa Hojda was just trying to be proactive after seeing an ad for a job in her college’s career center. But what happened next was totally unexpected.
Hojda attempted to contact the business to inquire about the job opening, attaching her resume and cover letter to the e-mail. Or so she thought. Instead of her resume, Hojda mistakenly attached a hysterically psychotic picture of Hollywood A-lister Nic Cage in all of his bug-eyed glory. She realized her mistake too late, and decided to turn it into a moment of self-deprecating levity by posting the error on her Tumblr.
Needless to say the hiring manager likely thought she was pulling some sort of prank, so Hojda didn’t get the job. But making the entire Internet smile has to count for something, right?
The "Genious" Alien Whisperer
Quick note to jobseekers – if you’re going to talk about how intelligent you are make sure you spell everything correctly.
This self-acclaimed “professional genious” said his job duties consist of “hanging out with friends, drinking, smoking, and doing tricks such as ollying…” He also brags that he can “answer any question on Jeopordy.” Except, ironically, how to spell the word Jeopardy.
In addition to bragging about doing and selling illegal drugs and offering himself up for execution should the company that hires him fail to make a “100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000” dollar profit, he ends with the unearthly claim that he has extraterrestrial communication experience.
“Do you know aliens from outerspace? NO!!! I didn’t think so because the definition of Alien is Foreign or Undiscovered, but Guess what?? I DO KNOW ALIENS FROM OUTERSPACE!”
Here’s an example of crossing the line from confidence to conceit. And by “crossing the line” we mean pole vaulting over it.
An NYU grad student named Mark lit the Internet ablaze when his amazingly arrogant cover letter to JPMorgan went viral. Instead of focusing on his positive qualities such as being a triple major in Math, Computer Science, and Economics, Mark decided to go the extra mile and detail how he left Villanova because it was “too easy.” He also boasted of being able to lift twice his body weight and do 35 pull-ups. Because that’s essential for working in finance.
Mark learned a year’s worth of Java in 27 days. Mark tested out of seemingly every college course. And Mark performs basic functions of the job with “terrifying efficiency.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean. But after a long letter filled with not-so-humble brags, Mark saved the best for last.
“Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited, I just want to outline my usefulness. Egos can be a huge liability, and I try not to have one.”
Impossible is Nothing
The story of Aleksey Vayner is tragic on many levels.
In 2006 Vayner was a Yale senior seeking employment. And apparently he thought the best way to land an investment banker job was to send an 11-page resume to UBS complete with glamour shots and a video resume that included Vayner lifting weights, ballroom dancing, and breaking bricks with his karate skills.
It was quickly passed around the ranks of financial powerhouses and Vayner became the butt of many jokes in the industry. What wasn’t funny was Vayner’s alleged suicide a few years later, making this the cautionary tale to end all jobseeker cautionary tales.