May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As a freelance writer, I sometimes write resumes for clients who are unemployed—that’s why they want me to write a resume—and I’m not sure if they’re going to pay me.

“What part of freelance do you not understand?”

“The lance. I thought it was free.”

So this week, I’m going to give you a bunch of resume-writing tips, so you can write your resume on your own, for free, bearing in mind that even if every resume I’ve ever written is absolutely awesome from a writing standpoint, I have no idea if they’re actually getting people jobs. I’m always afraid to ask.

The main thing on your resume is your

Work Experience

List your past positions, making sure to use active verbs to describe your responsibilities. (“Pizza Maker: Rolled out dough, put sauce on dough, added cheese, smeared it around, and baked in oven on 700 degrees for 5 minutes. Served 8.”)

Make sure you phrase your responsibilities in a way that highlights your skills. Some people say, “I’ll write what I do, and they’ll realize I have the skills they need. Like they’ll say, “Oh, he was a rebbi? So he did long-range lesson planning? I can hire him to plan my financial future!” No hiring manager will put that together in the five seconds they spend reading each resume. Hiring managers are busy people. That’s why they’re looking to hire more people. In fact, you might want to have a section called:

Skills Summary

This is not the place to list things like:

  • Holding breath underwater for 4 minutes
  • Organizing things into lists
  • Can pick up almost anything with my toes.
  • You can also use the standard industry skills that people like to list, such as:
  • Fast learner. (“Please explain.” “Well, I do Daf Yomi. Takes me a half hour.”)
  • Multitasking abilities. “That’s not specific. Everyone can multitask for specific things. What can you do?” “Walk and tie my shoes at the same time.”
  • Organizational skills. I have news for you: Everyone thinks they have organizational skills. Do you know anyone who’s messy, and you’ve tried to clean up some of their stuff to help them out, and they yell, “No! It’s organized!”? They’re writing it on their resumes too.

Of course, you don’t have to fill in every section you find on the resume template on your computer. For example, some people write under

Computer Skills

  • Proficient at Microsoft Word.

Anyone who’s ever used Word is going to write that they’re proficient at it. It’s a blank page and you push the letter buttons. But how honest is that? I use Microsoft Word for a living and I don’t know what most of the stuff on top does. I just recently figured out that I can alphabetize lists. And this is a feature I’ve never really used since, except to make sure I don’t double things. It’s not like I’m writing Ashrei.

Another section you can leave out is:

Interests

No one wants to know your interests unless it directly benefits the job. You might be tempted to write your actual interests:

  • gardening
  • computers
  • phones
  • running for fun
  • running for my life

But why do they actually need to know these things? Is it so they have something to talk to you about at the interview, in case they run out of things to talk about?

References

Tip: it’s not the same as an “in case of emergency” list.

“So it seems you’ve listed your mother and your wife.”

“Don’t call my mother. She’s going to tell you I don’t call enough.”

If you can’t think of any references, make sure to write that references are available upon request. Because otherwise the employer will be like, “Should I request them or not? Oh, he wrote that I could.”

But you definitely want to write an

Objective

Employers tend to like hiring people with objectives.

If you do everything right, there’s a chance you’ll be called in for an interview, if only so that the employer can find out what you meant by “running for my life.” Or they may want a phone interview, which is a great idea, because you won’t have to deal with awkward handshake situations. I hate phone interviews, because in general when I’m on the phone, I sound like English is my second language. My main goal—and this is always abundantly clear—is getting the other person off the phone.

But the good news is there’s no guarantee that you’ll even get an interview. There’s a lot that can go wrong. For example, one of the big things they say is a red flag for employers is a gap on your resume. Which is ridiculous. There are a million reasons you can have a gap. Unless maybe “a gap on a resume” means an actual blank space. With whiteout. Because that would be a red flag.

So what should you do if you have a gap?

Some people try to falsify the years a little. Falsify, by the way, is a big resume word meaning “to lie.” Falsify is one of those big words you might put on a resume to make yourself sounds intelligent.

Prospective employer: “I have a question about your resume.”

You: “It’s falsified.”

Prospective employer (looking up “falsified”): “You’re hired!”

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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