Does Your Resume Lack Passion?

by Derek Loosvelt | June 06, 2011

The latest New York Times "Corner Office" column, which includes a Q&A with Bing Gordon, a partner at the prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is of interest for the following three reasons (the first two are about what you're doing wrong when crafting your resume; the third is about what you're doing wrong during meetings):

bing gordon(1) When asked (by the Times' Adam Bryant) how he goes about hiring someone, Bing makes a great point about what a job candidate's "interests" say (or don't say) about him or her. He says, "In my world, I read resumes upside down, so I start with personal interests ... if somebody’s not copped to something interesting, and if they aren’t passionate about something in life, they’re just not going to be able to bring it."

I'd argue that, at the very least, Bing's comment should result in a revisit of your resume to check out what you've inserted at the bottom (which, according to Bing, is really the top; note that he's not alone: I, too, read resumes "upside down," always perusing the "interests and hobbies" and/or "additional information" sections before heading north to view the typically ennui-inducing "education" and "employment experience" sections). And, at the most, I believe Bing's comment should send you to the mirror to ask yourself what your passions are and where they can fit on your resume -- so you can not only prove that you're a passionate human being when applying for a new job, but also speak to said passion(s) if you're called in to interiew for it.

(2) As for those "education" and "employment experience" sections, Bing gives a hint at how you can improve them, if not straight up tells you you've been tackling them in the wrong manner since you first crafted a resume back in high school. He says, "Most people on their resumes report task and process -- 'I held this job, and I was responsible for this. I held this job, and I was responsible for this.' It’s like, O.K., you’re telling me that you don’t measure yourself by achievement ... So I tell kids: 'You know, I think you’re pretty cool. What have you done that’s any good?' And strip out all the history stuff, just tell me what you’re proud of and how you think about it."

Again, this should have you running back to your resume; and, in this case, should result in you checking to see if your CV is a history report or an achievement report. If it's the former, then add as much of the latter as possible (without going overboard, of course; remember, rule No. 1 of resume writing is: "Be honest. Exaggeration equals B.S., which is easily sniffed out.")

(3) Okay, you've landed the job -- now what? According to Bing, you better not only have a good first month, or good first week, or even good first day, but a great first hour. He says, "I don’t agree with a slow start. I’ve seen it in boards. If a new board member doesn’t even open their mouth in the first board meeting, they’re kind of not an element. And it’s like, dude or dudette, you’re here because we think you’re really good, and right now you’ve got a silver bullet. I mean, we’re invested in you. You mean you showed up and you’re not doing anything? I tell people, you need to add something to every meeting you come to. If you’re in a meeting, offer something. I don’t believe that companies that do a slow on-ramp are going to keep up."

In other words, you better come out of the corner, passionately swinging. Or not come at all.

(NYT: Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins, on Influence vs. Power)

Filed Under: Finance


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