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thejohngaltline

Resume-Shrugging

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The graduate schools I'm applying to all require, among numerous other things, an academic resume. Having never made one before, I researched the thing online, talked to several professors, and attended some resume-writing workshops at my school. With each of these pursuits, one overarching piece of advice (though disguised for appearance's sake) has emerged: embellish.

Every little thing I've done in the past four years that could at all be stretched to sound impressive, academic, or, most popularly, altruistic should be included, I'm told. Because it isn't a professional resume the one-page rule is out, so the more the better. Clubs, awards, volunteer work, research... They want it all.

With the suggestions of these multiple sources, my resume is now three pages long, citing such obscure events as a blood drive I helped out with my freshman year, tutoring work (although there were only two clients), and being employee of the month at a coffee shop I haven't worked for in years. I've even been told, "It's good, but could you maybe work some religion into it somehow? Did you ever go to a youth group, even once, you can claim membership of?"

But now I think I'm at my resume-shrugging point. I don't want to lie with statistics, embellish insignificant events, or otherwise dress up my life on paper. If I were bold enough, I would simply submit something along the lines of "I have a killer GPA, great test scores, and a work ethic like you've never seen. If you're wondering why I don't have more extracurricular and volunteer experience, it's because I care more about feeding myself than feeding the homeless and I've had at least one full-time job at every point of the last four years." But, realistically, I may simply turn in a short and sweet resume, listing my academic accolades and legitimate activities and work experience and nothing else.

Anybody else fed up with the facades employers, schools, etc. demand? Have any good "resume-shrugging" stories?

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It's sad that there are lying idiots out there (even sadder if they aren't lying). The kind of stuff listed here is all that should be included, IMO; though it depends on what area you are in. Having read these files for 25 years, I would be prejudiced against an applicant who padded the way you were told to, and I think most of my colleagues would feel the same way. GRE, GPA, publications and presentations -- the rest is fluff.

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On the other side of the coin are people who nominally participate in activities solely to build their resume--I am thinking of high schoolers trying to make their college apps more impressive by serving on student council (and doing absolutely nothing), etc., etc. They can technically claim to have done a bunch of extracurricular activities, but they really haven't.

The only difference between what these folks did and what TheJohnGaltLine is being urged to do is that they showed some foresight in what is basically a dishonest technique.

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Yes I totally agree,

I can't stand the confusion that is involved in the employment process of most companies! In my experience, it seems like the recruiter and the applicants have no idea what to expect from each other. The would be employee has no idea of what the job is like or what will be required of them. The Employer does not explicitly state or perhaps even know what they need from their employees. I got my most recent employment by going to a University Job fair and with the assistance of a University Adviser. However, the resume that I used at that time to obtain my current employment is totally different than the resume/format I have now. And, to be honest if I were to look for internal jobs I think my current resume is more suited than if I were to search for employment outside of my current company. To simplify the process I think it's best to use a service, a head hunter or meet with your Collage Adviser. Your University can assign you someone to work with that can really help in the process. They already have established relationships with company recruiters and can give you an idea of what companies are looking for in regards to your major and your resume. The University adviser will help you format your resume for each particular industry and companies. They can even help with you with what to expect in an interview. The hiring process is so complicated and so different from company to company I just think it's better to to go to someone that's an expert in the area of helping you get the job you are looking for, and they will help you market yourself. As to whether we agree on what they should value or care about in a resume, well that might be a good indicator of if you want to even seek out employment with the company. I probably would not want to even apply for a job with a company that is interested in if I go to church, or how many charitable organizations I have belonged to.

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I've found the same thing: The more strictly, brutally honest you are, the better off you are.

My C.V. is merely contact details, education/qualifications, employment history, and skill summary. Anything else, other than referents, which I don't have, seems unnecessary. For some reason people here in New Zealand tell you to put in irrelevant details like career objectives, languages, interests, and "other information," whatever that is. Since I have little work experience my C.V. goes onto, but barely uses, a second page.

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The initially plagarized and later heavily edited six year old cover letter of my resume follows:

I have elected to precede me resume with a brief explanation of the factors that have heavily influenced, and continue to refine, the nature of my life. I believe that providing a potential employer with a deeper explanation of who I am and what I believe is necessary to hightlight the illumination of my skilly set, work experience, and education on the pages that follow.

I have organized every aspect of my life around certain principles because I hold my life, and the happiness that makes it worth living, as my highest values. Like my life and my happiness, I believe that these principles are indispensalbe and non-negotiable since adhearance to them is ultimately what makes these those values possible. Therefore, I am committed to living as rationally as my ability allows and I attribute great importance to possessing the virtues that doing so requires. I am committed to my independing by relying upon my own judgment, yet consistently verifying my conclusions against the facts of the situation. I am committed to having purpose throughout my life by constantly creating values for myself in all areas including work, education, hobbies, and personal relationships. I am committed to complete honesty with myself and others as I realize that I have nothing to gain from deception except guilt from within and scorn from without. I recognize that in order to achieve values of any kind, I must practice these virtues as well as nurture the relationships that contribute to their creation. Logically, this means that I must respect my own limitations of knowledge and ability, and to respect and appreciate the information and talents possessed by others.

I have incorporated all of these principles in my attitude towards employment. In observing my own independence, the independence of other individuals becomes apparent. Just as I have the choice to select whom I wish to work for, so does my employer have the choice of granting me the priviledge of working for him. I realize that a proper relationship of any type consists of an ongoing reaffirmation of independent choice, and that any deviation from principle, responsibility, or agreement puts the relationship in jeapordy. I believe that a relationship created for the purpose of production and profit is one of the most noble human relationships possible, and I am eager to take part in one.

Incongruently, I am not embellishing when I say that, aside from a job scooping ice cream during high school, I have used this document when applying to every job I have held.

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Anybody else fed up with the facades employers, schools, etc. demand? Have any good "resume-shrugging" stories?

For the last job which I applied for, I went into the supervisors office, threw some pictures of my last few jobs on his desk and asked if he thought he could afford me. We got along great.

Something I'd consider in making a resume is what sort of person you intend to work for. A common sensed fellow like the guy I worked for would undoubtedly be repulsed by the sort of resume you describe. It sounds more like something that might go over well with social work. So think of the industry, the sort f people in it, and what they would want to know about you to make their decision.

For example, if it is a market based company, they want to know that you will make them money. If it's a government entity then the altruism and obedience route would most likely have more appeal. Although it might depend somewhat on what particular you are applying for.

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I'm taking a class on technical writing for scientific audiences. My teacher taught us how to write resumes for scientific fields as a part of the course.

I was never told to embellish or lie and was actually offered helpful hints on resume writing.

Everyone is not going to offer you the same advice. Just because some people lie and recommend you do the same doesn't mean you should listen to them.

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I find that I don't need to embellish my resume at all. In fact, I wouldn't want to work for someone who found youth group experience, blood drives, or religion important when hiring. So, not including that stuff saves me from wasting my time at an interview for a job I don't want. I realize this may not hold for applying to grad schools because the people who review your application for admission are most likely not going to be your professors. Unfortunately, the people in admissions may be impressed by embellishment and altruistic pursuits.

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I vote for the one page rule, regardless. Resumes are exercises in essentialization not exhaustion. What is essential about you?

I used to work job fairs, and interview on campus, and in the office. If you can't make me remember you in one page, then you will certainly make me forget you in two, three, four, etc...

Every time I brush mine up, I have to figure out what is important about me enough to keep and not enough to pare out.

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I vote for the one page rule, regardless. Resumes are exercises in essentialization not exhaustion. What is essential about you?

I used to work job fairs, and interview on campus, and in the office. If you can't make me remember you in one page, then you will certainly make me forget you in two, three, four, etc...

Every time I brush mine up, I have to figure out what is important about me enough to keep and not enough to pare out.

What do you put in your resume/CV? I would think contact details and all experience and training relevant to the job at the least.

From what I have heard and read, employers here don't like 1 page ones. Apparently they think such a person is either too inexperienced, too untrained, or has too little to say about themselves in some other way.

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...

But now I think I'm at my resume-shrugging point. I don't want to lie with statistics, embellish insignificant events, or otherwise dress up my life on paper.

...

Good for you!

Anybody else fed up with the facades employers, schools, etc. demand? Have any good "resume-shrugging" stories?

I don't remember exactly what I wrote to get into graduate school, but I'm sure I didn't put any extracurricular junk on it; I just stuck to the facts that were relevant to convincing them that I would be a good student who would do well in their department.

For employment, I've always kept my resume short, and described the essentials of my work experience. I've heard advice that job seekers should exaggerate past achievements, using big words to make it look like they accomplished more than they really did; I think this is terrible advice and have never followed it. And I can tell you that when I've been the one involved in trying to decide whether to hire somebody, I don't like it when I find out that a "skill" that he implied he had, is something he really knows next to nothing about.

It's enlightening for me to concretize this by thinking about what Howard Roark's and Peter Keating's resumes would look like. Which one would stick to the facts that were relevant to the job? Which one would be full of all sorts of irrelevant second-handed fluff? Which one would be trying to enlighten the prospective employer with the truth? Which one would be trying to deceive its reader into believing that the job candidate was more capable than he really was?

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Sadly those irrelevant details I mentioned are even suggested by the online job site I use.

Does anyone know why they get you to mention details like the ones I listed?

I think, based on my experiences that one reason some advisor's tell you to do it is to try save time during interviews. I think the theory is meant to be that if cover everything conceivably relevant or useful to the employer (a lot of the things they advise are not conceivably relevant, or useful to the potential employer of course). This apparently might save time during some interviews, and helps the interviewer make sure he is less likely to forget anything.

Of course this is just silly. Any person interviewing you for a job should know enough off the top of his head not to resort to cues from your CV, nor does it justify bothering with questions that are not related to the job.

Then there is the fact that many employers consider that "Oh a degree? Oh so, lots of people have those! I want something that makes this person STAND OUT as something special". Well this is fair enough up to a point if you choose to consider grades, or extra-curricular material relevant to the job, such as say publishing articles that might demonstrate advanced knowledge in the relevant field. But most employers take things into consideration which do not make them stand out as potentially better at the JOB. Which is of course meant to be the point.

This is based on my experience and what I am able to tell about the New Zealand job market anyway.

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There's some substantial evidence out there that people don't *think* when they ask you to fill out a job application. I applied at one place for *part time* work and they demanded that I put down a *complete* work history. For me, that would mean going back to junior high school and writing down when I delivered pizzas at a football game, not to mention the 15-some jobs I've done since then. Asking anyone over 20 for a *complete* job history is *laughable*. Then they wanted addresses, phone numbers, references, the whole nine yards from every single employer.

Honestly.

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The kind of stuff listed here is all that should be included

I never quite understood why well established academics always list all of their journal publications, all of their conference talks and the like on their curriculum vitae. Why do you think this is? Is it not sufficient to just list your most prestigious publications and your most distinguished talks while summarizing everything else?

Every professor I know lists all of these accomplishments explicitly. However, I doubt that any viewer of such a lengthy CV reads them all.

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I never quite understood why well established academics always list all of their journal publications, all of their conference talks and the like on their curriculum vitae. Why do you think this is?
I suppose it's a definitional thing: by definition, a CV is a complete listing of academic product. There are often performance requirements of the kind "must publish minimally two papers a year", and this is a standardized means of monitoring compliance. If you have to produce one document with the whole list, for official purposes, it's a nuisance to create a second for other purposes, hence easier to just stick the official CV out there. Besides, comparatively speaking, my least important paper is twice as good as the most important paper of most people, so I don't want to give readers the wrong impression.

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I suppose it's a definitional thing: by definition, a CV is a complete listing of academic product. There are often performance requirements of the kind "must publish minimally two papers a year", and this is a standardized means of monitoring compliance. If you have to produce one document with the whole list, for official purposes, it's a nuisance to create a second for other purposes, hence easier to just stick the official CV out there. Besides, comparatively speaking, my least important paper is twice as good as the most important paper of most people, so I don't want to give readers the wrong impression.

Well, if I was an employer and you gave me a CV that big I would only skim read it. I wouldn't read it fully. I have no interest in reading an 11 page CV and I think most employeers (NZ ones at least) would be the same.

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Besides, comparatively speaking, my least important paper is twice as good as the most important paper of most people, so I don't want to give readers the wrong impression.

:D

Well...if we are strictly talking about "paper" here...

- please -

everything the poster of this thread touches with a pen turns to gold!

Surely anyone who has read her papers, knows that... :)

My suggestion - shrug it all, including all the associated "recruiting fads"...how about just writing this:

on the first page:

[insert name here] Need I say more.

(note: i couldn't actually write her name there, or else this reply might have turned to gold, and you would not have been able to see what i had typed)

(note: also "Need I say more?" would have the question mark part of it crossed out...purposely...because there's no question about it.)

Edited by intellectualammo

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I suppose it's a definitional thing: by definition, a CV is a complete listing of academic product. There are often performance requirements of the kind "must publish minimally two papers a year", and this is a standardized means of monitoring compliance. If you have to produce one document with the whole list, for official purposes, it's a nuisance to create a second for other purposes, hence easier to just stick the official CV out there. Besides, comparatively speaking, my least important paper is twice as good as the most important paper of most people, so I don't want to give readers the wrong impression.
Well I was going to say that academia was saturated with guild socialistic tendencies, and that academicians were more interested in arbitrary accomplishments than summarizing actual results... :D

The CV is making its way into professional circles and someone who gives me theirs will most assuredly be thought less of due to the fact that they cannot present the essentials of themselves to me in 1 PAGE. The CV and the professional resume have 2 very different purposes and saving time with one by substituting the other is a mistake.

everything the poster of this thread touches with a pen turns to gold!Surely anyone who has read her papers, knows that... :)

I'd like to pile onto that sentiment.

Here! Here!

Edited by KendallJ

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The CV and the professional resume have 2 very different purposes and saving time with one by substituting the other is a mistake.
Right, and since the original question was about academic and not professional requirements, it would be a mistake to confuse the two.

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Right, and since the original question was about academic and not professional requirements, it would be a mistake to confuse the two.

I absolutely agree, and thank my lucky stars I'm not an academic. ;)

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The CV is making its way into professional circles and someone who gives me theirs will most assuredly be thought less of due to the fact that they cannot present the essentials of themselves to me in 1 PAGE.

I suppose this depends on what kind of job you are screening individuals for. I plan to keep my professional resume about two pages. I think this is appropriate for entry-level Ph.D. positions.

I absolutely agree, and thank my lucky stars I'm not an academic. ;)

You sure got lucky with that one! :D

Edited by DarkWaters

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