job seekers, i don’t know you.

that fact seems abundantly obvious, but i fear that a lot of people don’t actually understand it. i don’t know who you are, so i can’t possibly know the level of quality of the work you’ve done. that’s a huge problem for you.

understanding that fact, your résumé is the very first work product that you are creating for my organization. i’m going to glean information about you simply from that one document, including things from the mundane—like how you have designed the headings, your font choices and colors, if all bullet points do or don’t have periods at the end—all the way to the very most important aspect of whether or not what you’ve provided matches the job you’ve applied for.

from a visual and design perspective, it has to be bulletproof. no typos, no dangling commas, no strange font choices (do depart from the default, just don’t choose comic sans), and the filename itself. please include your first and last name in the filename. do you know how many other people have emailed “resume.docx”? a lot. it makes it impossible to track you among the others.

from a content perspective, what you provide tells me “this is something i think is relevant to the job i have applied for.” should you include that you spent time as a baker at the local supermarket for a job that’s in the software development field, be prepared for me to ask you questions about how “writing on customer’s cakes” has prepared you for being part of a team of computer programmers—assuming that the rest of your résumé has enough information for you make it to the interview stage. if your work experience does not match your education or skills, which do match the job requirements, spend the time and valuable space talking to me about how your education has prepared you for this job and what you’ve done with those skills and less time talking about baking cakes (unless the job is for baking cakes).

which leads me to my next point: you absolutely have to come up in a google search. i know a lot of people will tell you to hide your social media, lock it down with the highest privacy settings possible, and generally don’t post anything to the internet ever… but it’s one of the worst things you can do. when i’m looking to hire someone, i also want to know—beyond your qualifications for the job, which i’m still not convinced of yet—that you’re going to be a match for my team. i want to know that you have passions; that you have opinions and can defend them or make a compelling argument for them; that you have done things in the past and published them (e.g. created webpages, created digital art, took photos, etc.); and most importantly that you’re a human being. i don’t want to hire a robot who’s just going to do what i tell them to do.

i don’t know you, and that puts you at a severe disadvantage. but you’re not doing yourselves any favors by submitting poor résumés and being anonymous online. you want me to hire you for the job? you need to show me that you can do it.