Résumés: The Good, the Bad and the 10 Weirdest

With unemployment stubbornly hovering above 9%, job-seekers are having a hard time resisting the temptation to do some “creative writing” on their résumés.

Sometimes, it’s outright deception. The Liars Index, which tracks the percentage of résumés claiming false credentials, reached another new high in the first half of 2011. It found that 21% of education claims on résumés were misrepresented.

In other cases, applicants take the oddball route, hoping to stand out in the crowd. With half of HR managers saying they spend, on average, less than a minute reviewing each application, that can be a wise move at times. But as Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at CareerBuilder says, “Job seekers need to ask themselves if they’re standing out for the right reasons.”

When does unique cross the line into just plain weird? Here are 10 of the most “memorable” résumés from a recent CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 HR pros and hiring managers: 

1. Said the more you paid him, the harder he worked.

Ads_Interview Bootcamp D

2. Said he just wanted an opportunity to show off his new tie.

3. Listed her dog as reference.

4. Listed the ability to do the moonwalk as a special skill.

5. Cited a contact email address on the résumé with “shakinmybootie” in it.

6. Used his first name only on the résumé.

7. Insisted in his cover letter that the company pay him to interview with them because his time was valuable.

8. Shipped a lemon with résumé, stating “I am not a lemon.”

9. Asked in his cover letter, “Would you pass up an opportunity to hire someone like this? I think not.”

10. Noted, quite honestly, that he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss.

How about you? What’s the most unique—or oddball—thing you’ve seen on a résumé? Leave your comment  below.

7 Ways to Extract the Truth

Think of a résumé as the advertisement for a car. Something is being sold, and you need to adopt a “buyer beware” attitude before you drive away. Some tips:

1. Check for inconsistencies. Résumé-writing software can make anyone look good. Look for slip-ups in dates (such as overlapping start and stop dates) and contradictions between job titles and duties.

2. Test skills. If an applicant claims to have proficiency in a computer program or can handle a certain machine, do a skills check. To avoid discrimination charges, test all applicants.

3. Check references, then ask for more. Demand that applicants provide phone numbers for all past employers, and make the calls. Also, ask for names of former supervisors, key vendors, etc.

4. Probe ‘self-owned business’ claims. Ask for details about their claims, including names and numbers of past clients.

5. Question academic credentials. Phrase some questions to determine whether the candidate really attended the schools listed. “Is James Smith still teaching accounting at that school?” If you made up the name and the person says, “He sure is,” you’ve got a fabricator on your hands.

6. Probe claims of supervisory duties. Ask questions like: “When you say ‘supervise,’ what did your duties involve? Did you assign work and evaluate the employees? Did you conduct performance reviews?” A true manager would have done that, and more.

7. Question claims of saving the company money or resources. Often, the claims are true, but they may be exaggerations. Comments like “made staffing change to cut clerical time” may mean he trimmed a half-hour off his secretary’s lunch hour.