CNN's In the Money Interviews Resumes from Hell Co-Author Rachel Meyers

Interview Transcript:

Narrator's Intro: A Scorpio born in the year of the ox, spiritually fit, seriously likes non-popular music and classic sports, especially tennis. Not bad for a personal ad, but this spiritual Scorpio isn't looking for love; he is looking for a job. His resume is just one of many "Resumes from Hell" immortalized in the book of the same name.

Co-author Rachel Meyers joins us now. Rachel, welcome to the program. Everyone knows the line speaks French and they didn't really speak French. But we're talking about people who are just way over the line here. Do they think they can get away with it?

Rachel Meyers, co-author, Resumes from Hell: I think they do. I don't think people realize how quickly they have to make an impression on a hiring manager, and how quickly that impression can go wrong.

Lisovicz: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Yes, you provide many samples. Let's go to one of the ones that struck me. It's always good to be confident in your resume, but you should do it in a certain way, like you should quantify your skills. You shouldn't be outright beating your chest.

Meyers: Absolutely true.

Lisovicz: Like the one that talks about I have done nothing but amaze my employers every step of the way.

Meyers: That's right. We call that the "show me, don't tell me" resume. People don't like to be told that you're amazing. I want to hear about why you're amazing. Show me how you're amazing. I'll decide if you're amazing or not.

Lisovicz: This is an actual resume?

Meyers: Oh absolutely. These are all actual resumes.

Serwer: Susan's amazing, Rachel, take my word for it.

Lisovicz: I did not write this resume.

Serwer: She's amazing.

Cafferty: It has nothing to do with her resume. Where did you find these idiots? I mean all you have to do is go on the computer and you can find out how to write a resume. Or you can call an old high school teacher or knock on your next-door neighbor's door and say "Can I look at a copy?" I mean, who are these morons that you dug up for this thing?

Meyers: Surprisingly, we didn't have to do any digging. They came to us. We were recruiters for many years. We worked for a major web site where hundreds of resumes came in every day. And we collected all of the bad ones.

Serwer: People do this stuff. I mean, there have been questions about Mike Brown's resume, the head of FEMA. George O'Leary, the prospective coach of Notre Dame football apparently fudged his. It's just amazing that people try to get away with this stuff. And then they stay stupid things like "have passport and don't use tobacco or firearms." I love that one. That's terrific, thank you.

Meyers: What's great with that one is that he actually used it as a header on every page of his resume. That's how important those topics were to him.

Lisovicz: Packed and ready to go. But you know there's another resume from hell where one talks about salary. It's OK to talk about salary, but maybe in the interview, right?

Meyers: That's right.

Lisovicz: Not right in the resume.

Meyers: That's right. Save it for the interview, save it for the negotiation. A lot of people do list their salary histories on their resume -- too much too soon.

Lisovicz: Right. One actually has the gall to set the parameters. "Won't work for this." "Will work for as much as this."

Meyers: That is right. That makes me wonder who's applying to who.

Cafferty: Will read for food. That's what we do here at CNN. We read scripts for food. What kind of job was the person applying for who said "have passport, don't use tobacco or firearms?" What sort of work did he want to do?

Meyers: Actually a lot of these people are computer programmers, because we were working on software industry.

Cafferty: I don't get the connection at all. How do you do the dots on that one?

Meyers: Yes, the '90s were a time of great arrogance for computer programmers. They thought they could get away with a lot on resumes.

Serwer: You know we do stories in Fortune Magazine Rachel. A lot of times we catch these CEOs doing this stuff. A lot of times people will make up two things, combat experience, "Well, I was in Vietnam." No you weren't, you weren't there. Another one we find, not very often but sometimes, "I played a little minor league baseball."

Meyers: Yes.

Serwer: We check up.

Meyers: Little league.

Serwer: We check up. You know they say they played minor league baseball, they didn't play. Why do people feel compelled to do this? Why do people fudge like that?

Meyers: I think that people want to insert a lot of personality into their resumes. They feel like they want to be known, not just as their job but as a whole person. So they make the mistake of putting all this personnel information not just in their resumes but in their cover letters, in their e-mails, in voice mails. And these days you have to really think: if your prospective employer Googles your name, what are they going to find?

Lisovicz: Even if it's true or not, it's I think that's what you call, Rachel, the "who cares" factor. "I personally know many of the presidents and military leaders of countries in sub-Saharan Africa." I mean, do you really want this person to work for you even if it's true?

Meyers: Well that one makes me wonder why this person is sending their resume to me if they have all of these great connections.

Serwer: They could be their own dictator.

Meyers: Call Castro. Maybe he could get you a job.

Cafferty: We are almost out of time. But help me out here, help me put my resume together. How should I do it so that I got a shot at maybe getting an interview and then I got a shot of maybe getting a job?

Meyers: Sure. I can give you a few quick tips. One thing that I always tell people to do is quantify their skills in terms of money, whether it's revenue you generated, or money you saved. You can quantify it in terms of time saved, or customers served. This can apply to CEOs or waitresses. Anybody can quantify their skills.

So that's a great thing to keep in mine when writing your resume. Also to always make sure that you include a cover letter. My co-author Jon Reed, he won't even look at your resume if you haven't included a cover letter. It's an opportunity to show the employer that you've done your research on them and you know how you're going to fit in.

Lisovicz: We are going to have to leave it at that. But thank you for alternately amusing us and horrifying us. Rachel Meyers co-author of Resumes from Hell, it truly lives up to its title. Thanks for joining us.

Meyers: Thank you.

Cafferty: Now for next week's email "Question of the Week", which is this. Have you ever made a bad impression when applying for a job? Be honest, we promise not to use your last name. You can send your answers to You should also visit our show page at, which is where you will find the address of our "Fun Site of the Week."