Skip the Self Praise!
Don't Say It, Prove It On Your Resume
Most resumes are filled with self praise:
"power" descriptors like spirited,
performer, highly skilled, or innovative that
resume books and professional resume writers urge job hunters to use to
perk up their resumes.
an idiot believes any of this horse magoosh, and most employers aren't
idiots (and if the employer is an idiot, do you want to work for them?)
Recently, when talking with my sister Katarina, she used the word
brilliant in a sentence.
In all my arrogance, I responded, "Brilliant ... kind of makes you
think about me, doesn't it?"
Katarina responded brilliantly with, "It makes me think about you
talking about you."
Unfortunately, all but about 1% of resumes start out with you talking
intelligent, energetic, entrepreneurial and high-achieving executive
with 10 years of work experience and superb academic
credentials. Deep network of corporate client, private equity
professional services relationships developed over numerous
years. Outstanding new business development skills and
understand explicit and implicit client needs. Highly
and persuasive communicator. Proven ability to raise
capital. Experience recruiting, leading and motivating
teams. Significant corporate finance transaction experience."
Arrgh! as Charlie Brown would say. Did that put you to sleep?
summary tells me he has 10 years of work experience, along with some
private equity and capital raising experience. The rest of it is
self-praise -- fluff. Everybody and his sister can claim (and they all
do claim) to be highly intelligent, energetic, entrepreneurial,
high-achieving, highly articulate and persuasive communicators.
not picking on this person - who actually has a pretty impressive
background. It's so rare that I see a resume that doesn't
out with a boring thud like this one that I routinely skip the
summaries - but the good resume writers out there will put something in
the summary that will catch my eye.
Dropping all the
self-praise - all the you-talking-about-you is the first
Get rid of all self-describing adjectives, which no one believes, and
which even you wouldn't believe if they were on the resume you were
reading that belonged to someone you'd never met.
with specifics. In this candidate's case, replace proven
to raise capital with raised $1.65-billion in capital to fund 13
transactions in three-year period.
continually baffled at why accomplished execs feel that praising
themselves more boldly than an insecure heiress putting on airs will
dare to do will get them anywhere. However, this is the rule,
rather than the exception. Think back to the last time you hired
someone. You fired Herman because he could not make a decision. You
told your HR department to bring you someone who was confident and decisive.
Your VP/Human Resources came back a month later with a half dozen
resumes, and said, "We ran ads and contacted our best sources. These
six people all mentioned in their resumes that they are confident and decisive.
We're certain that one of these six will be your next superstar general
VP/HR didn't? Would you
have believed him if he had told you that? Or would you merely
have had him committed?
You're smarter than
the average wizard. Add specifics, and stop praising yourself.
beginning of your resume needs to be eye-catching, rather than
something that makes you indistinguishable from everybody else.
Otherwise, you simply will not get the job.