Reviews of Resumes from Hell

May 20, 2005: A positive review in the Tulsa Business Journal

Bad resumes source of humor

Book Review by Tracy Legrand

There are times a person needs a “how not to” book rather than a “how to.” 

            For the humor factor alone – and the approach of graduation and Father’s Day gift-giving opportunities – Resumes From Hell by Jon Reed and Rachel Meyers is worth checking out.

            Spelling errors, misinformation and grammatical transgressions are just the beginning in this book, comically illustrated by Randy Johnson.

            The first chapters deal with “TMI” – too much information.       

            Using resumes culled from real life choices, the author presents the best of the worst, so to speak.

            For example, there is the job seeker who thinks his hobbies are resume-fodder: “When I’m not programming, I’m performing magic…I juggle and twist balloon animals.  I bungee jump on occasion and would like to experience skydiving soon.”

            From a potential employer’s perspective, the following cover letter paragraph would raise some eyebrows: “In my spare time I like to work on my computer and do various activities with my girlfriend.” 

            Volunteering one’s weaknesses, especially when they contradict stated strengths is not advised, the authors say, as in the case of the resume writer who listed their weakness: “Sentimental and starts to cry fast.”

            Vanity and inexplicable self-revelation are other resume woes. 

            “Why would someone put a vanity e-mail address on their resume or an overly personal tag line on their correspondence,” the authors ask, giving such e-mail address examples as and

            In chapter eight, Blown Away By My Own Abilities, one resume writer’s grandiose assertions are jaw-droppingly crass: “My objectives are simple.  I want your job.  I don’t mean the one I’m applying for, I mean your job.” 

            “I’m a communications major with a minor in creative writing.  I still have two semesters to go, but I know more than some of my teachers.  Once I hit the real world, though, you’re gonna hear from me.”

            Excessive specificity, just-plain-strange self revelations and eye-popping braggadocio are all mistakes the book uses to teach some major lessons including:

            ∙ Spell check.  Grammar check.  Have several friends and mentors read your resume before you send it out.

            ∙ Think twice before hitting “send” when it comes to emails.  Better yet, sleep on it and check with friends yet again.

            ∙ Voice mail is not the place to sell yourself.  Brevity is what a potential employer will appreciate most. 

            The majority of the book’s examples come from job searchers in the information technology field, say the authors.

            “The skeptical among you are going to wonder: are the people in this book for real? Yes,” the authors say.  “There are from actual resumes and cover letters we received between 1995 and 2000.” 

            These examples of what not to do are valuable in today’s job-scarce global economy, say Reed and Meyers. 

            “A good resume is an edge we can seriously use,” they say.


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