Career Advice From “The Onion.” Ouch!

This career advice from “The Onion” was typically sarcastic and harsh.  Some of the digs taken at the expense of the fictitious job applicant, Corey Wilhelm, made me flinch. But there are a few great takeaways:

1- Your resume can’t be cookie cutter. The resume they spoof in “The Onion” article is a fill-in-the blank template–just add your name, major & GPA and now it’s YOUR resume.  It has to be unique to you and it has to show your skills and talents, not just list them. Read on for some tips on how to do that…

2-Be aware of how much weight items on your resume have:  the fictional applicant from “The Onion” piece worked for his dad–company name same as your last name? That’s a dead giveaway that you didn’t have to pre-screen for that job.  Were you one of dozens of “editors” of your school paper? Be aware that employers might know that (or look it up) and be unimpressed by the exaggeration on your resume that seems to imply you were the editor-in-chief running the whole show there at the school paper.

3- Don’t list any skills.  See number 1 and/or my earlier post on the subject–it’s about illustrating your skills and talents, not listing them.  “Spanish” as a skill with no context is about as vacuous as “proficient on Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, and Excel” (seriously, that is leftover from an early 1990’s template–you know, back when those software applications were actually new and some people didn’t already know how to use them. Now we assume everybody who gets into college knows how to use them).

4- Be specific. The Onion makes fun of the applicant having “both professional and personal experience on multiple social media platforms.” Worded like that, it sounds like you use Facebook a lot. But if you use the space well on your resume to illustrate how you use social media in professional contexts, that can be an important skill companies are looking for (unlike Microsoft Office, social media isn’t something people who have been in the work force for 20+ years are all adept at).  For this to work, you’d have to be able to say something very specific, such as:

Designed and implemented Twitter marketing campaign aimed at 18-25 year old males that attracted 50 new clients to XXX division of YYY company.

Increased client reach from 100 to 300 for AAA social-service organization through group message text messaging software.

5- Carefully consider the extracurriculars. The Onion makes fun of theater and a capella groups, but I have also read that interviewers respond well to people whose shared interests appear on their resumes. The key here is to find out what your shared interests might be. Don’t stalk! But use those social media skills to try to find out if the interviewer runs marathons or plays in a Beatles cover band–then include only that one thing that you may have in common on your resume.

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