Thursday, May 7, 2009

Guy Kawasaki on resumes

Tech entrepreneur and writer Guy Kawasaki, founder of a great site called, has a great blog, and his book, Reality Checks is on my nightstand. Here's what he says about resumes.

Here’s What I Like:

1. A direct style: use blunt, short words. Most resumes are scanned, not read.
2. Looks: like a middle-aged man’s apartment. Nice and tidy.
3. Objective: be direct; your objective is the job you’re applying for.
4. Verbs ending in “d”: shipped, launched, built, sold.
5. Results: not responsibilities or experience — but what responsibilities and experience helped you accomplish.
6. Bullets: 3 - 4 results per job.
7. Numbers: increased traffic from Google 230%, decreased ad spending 40%.
8. Grades: your GPA, even if it was ten years ago, if it’s over 3.5.
9. Reviews: ratings from your last review, especially useful if you worked for a tough grader like Microsoft
10. Honors: we’ll interview an employee-of-the-quarter, every time.
11. Promotions: if your role changes, highlight that as two jobs.
12. LinkedIn endorsements: persuasive, even from your friends; excerpted & linked.
13. A link to your blog: a blog gives you online street cred. For some, it is your resume .
14. Themes: whether you care about customer service or agile software, tell a consistent story from job to job.
15. Hobbies: I always want to meet people with fun hobbies. And that’s all a resume is: a request for a meeting. At Plumtree, we received a resume from a Playboy model. A colleague forwarded it to me with a note reading, “I’ve never asked you for anything before.” I feel the same way about cyclists.
16. Two pages, max: if you’re under 30, one page.
17. Anything you did that showed initiative or passion. Eagle Scout. Math Olympics.
18. Email to the CEO: it takes chutzpah & resourcefulness to go straight to the top. The email address is easy to guess.
19. Customization: tailor your resume & especially the cover letter to the job.
20. Completed degrees: I’ve hired plenty of folks a few credits shy of a degree. Some were great; many couldn’t finish what they started. If you have time now, finish your degree.
21. Gmail address: or your own domain. Nothing says “totally out of it” like an AOL address.

Here’s What I Don’t Like:

1. Churn: stints at two or more employers of less than two years.
2. List of generic skills: just show what you actually accomplished at each job.
3. Typos or misspellings: About half the resumes I get are addressed to “RedFin.” For the other words, spell-check!
4. Photos: my favorite was of a candidate in tennis whites with a racket.
5. “Proven”: as in “proven leadership.” We all still have something to prove.
6. Printed resumes: email a Word document, web page or PDF.
7. Buzzwords: search bots love it, actual people don’t.
8. Wordiness: yes, this is the pot calling the kettle black…

But this is just one person’s (very opinionated) opinion. There are plenty of people who have more experience than I do reviewing resumes. What do you like to see?
49 votes

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