If you had some way of quantifying the total minutes people througout time have spent staring at a blank piece of paper by topic (love poems, novels, memos, Will Shortz on Sudoku) , I’m betting beer money that the resume would come out first by several lengths. The cover letter would place, too.

What makes this even more pathetic is that if you flipped that and ranked the amount of minutes spent reading said documents by others, well, let’s just say you’ve suddenly got a horse with a broken leg. At best.

A little perspective from a guy who’s read lot of resumes. Fer instance, we’ve been searching for a marketing director here. From late July until last week, I’ve read over 270 resumes for that position alone. This should tell you a couple of things. First, everyone thinks they can work in marketing (most of them can’t). Second, considering that I have a lot of other things on my plate, those 270 resumes got about 2 minutes per at best, unless something caught my eye immeditely. That something, unfortunately, might have been interesting, or may as well have unintentionally funny (one person was under no “allusions” as to the hard work required for a role – spell check has ruined many a job hunt)…

So, what to do? Well, you do still need a resume. You don’t need a fancy one. You also don’t need to use words like “synergized”. EVER. No making up words. And no fancy talk. Lay out your chronology, briefly stating why your being where did what good thing for whom, provide contact info, education. Hobbies? Nope. Personal stuff, like “married and in good health with 17 kids”? Nope (really, really nope).

Don’t tell me that you’re in MENSA or “Who’s Who Among (insert catagory of suckker who paid $50 here for this listing)”, or I’ll say something ironic like “you idiot”. I really don’t like the Mensa thing – tells me alot about what you think about yourself, and who wants to work with that ego, anyways?

Obective? How ’bout “To get a new job, you idiot”? I’d leave that one out – you could easily spell out an objective that leads a potential dream company to think “oh, he/she wants X, and we have Y”. Best to keep it simple.

Now, you can be a little more personal in your cover letter, and (depending on the company) even a little cheeky. Just bear in mind that the cheeky-cheesy line is razor thin. You need to address each cover letter to each opportunity – a canned cover letter is obvious the minute I see it. A cover letter that matches the tone of our corporate site, and that brings up specifics about what we need and what the candidate has to offer in that area? That I’ll read closely, and that’s a resume I’ll try and like.

I’m going to talk about blogs soon. Seriously, I know – a blogger blogging about blogs. Why, that never happens, right? Still, this one needs some time – I’m of the opinion that blogs are the absolute future of resumes. So much so that I opined in ERE about the topic, and got us picked up in an article in the New York Post as a result (our PR Director still refuses to credit me, damn her).