Monday, June 11, 2012

How Chris Rock can make your resume sharper

My sister and I were chatting recently when we both began quoting part of Chris Rock's standup act to each other and laughing our asses off in the process. My sister is an English professor who mostly teaches freshmen (1101 and 1102), and the start of every fall semester brings that moment when she dashes the hopes of the students who think they're just in 13th grade.  They assert that by meeting the criteria and basic requirements on the syllabus, they "deserve" an A.  My sister must then remind them that when you meet the minimum requirements, you get a C; you earn (not "deserve") an A when you do high-quality work.  We began relating this to a rather controversial bit that Chris Rock did back in the 1990s.  At one point in the bit, he describes how he hates it when men with children brag, "I take care of my kids!"  Rock counters: "You're supposed to take care of your kids!  Whaddya want, a cookie?!"  My sister feels like yelling something similar at the students that want credit for doing something they're supposed to do: "You're supposed to attend class every day and do all the homework!  You don't get a trophy for it!"

Sometimes I see intern resumes that list attributes that they believe would help a firm: Strong digital and hand-rendering skills, Experience with contracts and on-site CA, and so on.  Mixed in with these attributes are more personal ones: Attention to detail, Excellent communication and teamwork skills, Able to work alone or on a team, etc.  Here's the thing: after 4-6 years in college, an intern better be able to pay attention to detail, be organized and punctual, and work alone or with a group.  Well-meaning interns include these traits as a way to help firms see that they'll be a great fit and that they can be relied upon.  But these traits are givens in the work world: regardless of your profession, you have to have certain baseline traits to work, and listing them on your resume makes it look like you want credit for doing something that you're supposed to do already.

If you want to emphasize one of these traits, find a way to tie it back to a job or organization or activity.  For example, if you want to emphasize how organized you are, link it to your catering manager job where you juggled several events simultaneously.  If you want to emphasize your writing skills, link it to the time you spent editing the school's online or print journal or college newspaper.  Without explicit examples, it just looks like you're asking for an A for meeting the C requirements.

1 comment:

  1. Without explicit examples, it just looks like you're asking for an A for meeting the C requirements.
    LOL! Actually, that could even slip into D or F territory. There are so many things to cover in a resume; it's not just a listing of all your accomplishments, but the story of what you've been doing and why it's important. The resumes whose "stories" grab readers' attention get their creators the interview, or job, or internship, etc.

    Also, I thought I'd pass along this URL to Jon Anscher's continuing series on creating a web portfolio with Wordpress...
    I'm learning a lot from this series, as a Wordpress newcomer. Seems like WP is the website/blog platform choice of a lot of professionals.