the charismatic aura, the glowing tan, and other amazing items seen on resumes — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

Last week, I asked about the strangest things you’ve ever seen in cover letters and resumes. You shared some amazing stories — here are some of my favorites.

1.  “A candidate happily let me know ‘I just got laid this morning’ (I assume he meant ‘laid off’ but it made me laugh).”

2.  “I had one applicant who put  ‘Have spent less than 8 nights incarcerated’ on his resume.”

3.  “At a previous job, I was assisting the head teacher with applications for a class teacher position. One lady wrote the entire application from the perspective of her hand puppet. The hand puppet had apparently filled in the application on behalf of the candidate. The best thing about it was that she included photos of her and the puppet working together on projects, e.g. in the garden, painting. I’m laughing now remembering it.”

4.  “I work in law. We once had an applicant openly state in their cover letter that their career goal was to work for opposing counsel, so they wanted a job at our firm to do opposition recon and learn how to better take us down in the future.”

5.  “I had a cover letter where a guy talked about navigating his divorce as relevant experience. This was a legal job, but it was not a family law job or adjacent, and the time was very much ‘I succeeded over my evil ex.’ So not appropriate.”

6. “Among other very silly things, a prospective intern that I was scheduled to interview included the bullet point ‘Powerful voice and charismatic aura’ on his resume. He ended up being a no-show for the interview, but I sorely wish I’d gotten to meet him.”

7.  “I once received a cover letter that stated, ‘I’m highly allergic to pet dander and I have three cats. I am determined and will bring this level of commitment to your company.’”

8.  “Once had a candidate write, ‘Strong typing skills,’ followed by, ‘WPM: 20.’”

9.  “One of my friends received a totally bonkers resume from a candidate who declared, ‘I have run a background check on myself and I have a clean record.’”

10.  “When I worked in corporate HR for a well-known convenience store based in the Philly area, I received a resume printed on a used sandwich wrapper from one of our stores. Complete with grease spots and smelling of rancid food. I give the person points for creativity, but for the love of all that’s holy, I wish they would have used a clean, unused wrapper.”

11.  “Received an email attachment (PDF) which I opened expecting to see a resume. It was a picture of the candidate, leaning back in a desk chair, with his hands pointing towards his chest. A superimposed box over his chest simply had the words: ‘Hire me!’ No resume at all.”

12.  “My favorite was under ‘other experience’: ”I’m extremely reliable. I once had 17 tequila shots on a night out and still made it to work the next day.’”

13.  “I once received a resume where the applicant had used an online service to generate a multi-page PDF with extreme background graphics that looked more like a sales document for a product than an actual resume. Worse, he hadn’t fully edited the whole thing, so page 1 started with a greeting of ‘Hey, wonderful’ and proceeded through instructions for using the template, including something along the lines of ‘this start-to-finish document will guide you through the process of putting your best foot forward.’

Spoiler: he did not put his best foot forward, and he did not get an interview.”

14.  “A favorite was a candidate who clearly took to heart the importance of quantifying accomplishments their interest section said something like ‘Exercise 6x/week for 3 years, increasing bicep circumference by 70% and decreasing waist circumference by 10%.’”

15.  “An applicant wrote in his resume, ‘I only write the personal pronoun ‘I’ as ‘i.’ Contact me to find out why!’

Honestly, I was so annoyed by this I decided no matter what the rest of his resume looked like, we would not call him. Luckily the rest of it ensured he wouldn’t have gotten a call back anyway.”

16.  “Mid-40s man in tech listed ‘grew largest pumpkin at the county fair, won a blue ribbon.’ His resume was otherwise excellent, so he got an interview.

At the end of the interview, they asked if he had any questions, and he wondered why they didn’t ask him about his pumpkin. The interviewer said, ‘Tell me more about that then, and how you see it relating to the work we do here.’

It happened when he was 12, he ‘didn’t remember much’ about how he did it, he just thought it was what made him unique.”

17.  “I’ve had several candidates who listed Olympic records, although not a single one was actually on the Olympic team, had verifiable records, or even possible. I had one 40-year-old candidate who stated that she won an Olympic medal in 1990. She would have been under the age of 10.”

18.  “At a nonprofit internship several years ago, I was tasked with receiving applications in the general mailbox and forwarding them to the relevant hiring managers, as there were many open positions in several countries overseas.

One applicant sent in a resume which had, in the lower left corner, a pretty big cartoon image of the genie from Aladdin coming out of his lamp. Then a blue speech bubble coming out of his mouth and filling the page. Inside the speech bubble was the actual resume (in smaller font, as the genie, lamp and bubble took up a fair amount of space on the page).

He was not hired.”

19.  “An applicant who was about 45 (based on high school grad date) listed every award received in elementary school. Nothing for middle or high school, just elementary and started with perfect attendance in kindergarten.”

20.  “From two different resumes:

‘The first thing to say is that I’m nobody special.’ — In the summary section.

‘Too many to list. Seriously. 10+ years.’ — In the skills section.”

21.  “A few years ago, I worked as a resume writer for a questionable career coaching company until it folded. Most clients would fight me tooth and nail if I said something needed to come out of their resume, and the career coach would back them up, so most of these bad boys clogged up someone’s inbox. Some of the best things I saw include:

* Demanded their resume highlight winning three erotic fan fiction contests in their awards and license section (medical field, did not get an interview).
* Citing over a decade of successfully hosting an unlicensed ayahuasca retreat in their home (elementary education, did not get an interview).
* ‘I probably know more than management does about INDUSTRY TOPIC’ in the ‘about me’ section, applying for a job in which he had no education or experience (cybersecurity, did not get an interview).
* Insisted that ‘never cheated on my wife or been tempted to cheat with a coworker regardless of mutual attraction’ stayed in the special skills section (media, did not get an interview).”

22.  “My friend in recruiting once received a 60-page CV, consisting of solid text and screenshots of the candidate’s IQ test results, recruiter inMails (to show how in-demand he was, I guess), feedback from previous recruiters (he highlighted that a previous recruiter had declared him the ‘most intelligent candidate they’d ever interviewed’ – but didn’t mention whether he was offered the job), that he’d recently attended a reading bootcamp that improved his reading comprehension to 2000 wpm, and – my absolute highlight – a summary of his EQ test results that showed he had a self-awareness EQ of 120.”

23.  “My mom, a nurse, had ‘looks good in white’ on her resume and got hired. It was the 60s/70s, a different time. She is still a nut.”

24.  “We had an intern who applied for a full-time role a couple years later … and his resume listed the accomplishments of our ENTIRE TEAM over the summer when he had interned. Cool that he was paying attention to what all of us were working on, I guess? But it was so clearly an impossible scope for a single intern and he was applying to the exact same team with all the same people. I’ll never know what led him to think that was a good move.”

25.  “On his resume for a serving position, “glowing tan” was its own bullet point on a list of skills.”

26.  “Applicant put in fake experience. Unfortunately, he put in my job as his current fake job — a job I’ve held for 10 years. I guess he didn’t realize he’d be reporting into me. Another applicant had one line of actual job experience, and a whole page of his tennis accomplishments, including children’s tournaments he’d won 15 years ago. As a child.”

27.  “One candidate listed ‘High social status’ as a quality. I emailed him and he explained that he had a large following on social media.”

28.  “My place of work has an online application for candidates to fill out. Under their work history, one applicant answered the question of who was their supervisor at previous position with ‘Barbara.’ The answer to the follow-up question ‘Why did you leave this position?’: ‘Barbara.’”

29.  “My three favorites of all time (hiring non-attorney positions in a midsize, fairly conservative business law firm). None were invited to interview, but number three was very close:

1. Perfectly fine resume for accounting position, but cover letter indicated they had been “screwed” by lawyers multiple times and wanted the job to prevent that from happening to others.
2. Gentleman with a skill listed as strong research skills, with a recent five-year “employment” stint listed as author and a link to his self-published fetish novel.
3. Good relevant prior experience, but the current position listed was a year-long stint as Miss BDSM OurState.”

30.  “From the Personal Interests / Accomplishments section:
‘Scented Candles
• I own 50+ scented candles covering every season of the year and give optimal recommendations using a calculated analysis on season, location, environment, event, personal preference, and vibe.’”

31.  “My heartfelt apologies to the original applicant wherever they may be now, but this section header of their cover letter has always stuck with me: ‘From whence did this stranger come to us in our hour of need?’ Love the confidence.”

32.  “Some job sites allow you to add soft skills to your application and ask you to list when this trait took effect. I’ve seen a lot of resumes that read things like ‘Enthusiasm (less than 1 year).’”

33.  “I’m currently hiring for a student worker position and received a resume that was just a screenshot of the candidate’s notes app on his phone. It included his full date of birth and age, at least five discrete fonts, and ‘good at video games’ in the skills section. Also, the screenshot was not cropped, and his phone battery was at like 5%. We will not be interviewing this person, but I’m secretly kinda bummed I won’t get to meet someone who sounds like truly a top-tier agent of chaos.”

34.  “The marketing candidate who sent a half of a dollar bill with his cover letter stating we would get the other half once we interviewed him. He was not interviewed.”

35.  “I saw a resume that included the line, ‘Personal interests: none.’ Not sure if he trying to signal how dedicated he was to his work?”

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