Take the 2-minute tour ×
The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm applying for an internship position as front-end engineer, and I'd like to make my résumé stand out a bit. I'm not going to add colors or drawings, I'm not even a designer, I'd just like to leave it light and not too formal. It's a Google-y type company in the sense that they provide video games for employees, free snacks and the like. It wouldn't be a CV filled with bad puns, I was just thinking of adding "If I could make this PDF responsive, I totally would" type of jokes. I would still list my qualifications formally and present all the usual data you see on a regular résumé.

share|improve this question
1  
Usually I limit my humour to a simple "!" in appropriate places on the CV. But I think in general the answer is no. However as you should be tailoring your CV to each job, then the wording could be lighter in some versions than others, dependant upon the target audience. –  Preet Sangha Jun 25 at 2:22
13  
Don't forget that the first person viewing you resume is likely an HR person with little knowledge of your actual profession. They will probably not think your joke is a joke. –  bengoesboom Jun 25 at 13:53
17  
@bengoesboom - Not to mention HR doesnt generally have a sense of humor. When you say "A dog, a chicken and a rabbit walk into a bar" their first instinct is to fill out three written warnings. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Jun 25 at 14:03

7 Answers 7

up vote 42 down vote accepted

I personally put statements like that in the cover letter, which is customized for each company/position applied for. It's just a personal choice, based on my perception of what a cover letter does, and what a resume does. The cover letter summarizes the high points of your resume, but also mixes in a little bit about you. Your cover letter can be what gets your resume chosen to be read. Your resume lists off: this is what I can do, this is what I know, this is a more complete list of my skillset and past experience. Your resume can be what gets you interviewed.

(Also: if the company website has some humor/casual content, then you will definitely be putting yourself on their wavelength by including a comment like the one you mentioned. But if the company site, and in particular the careers/about section, tends to sound more formal...try and go closer to that voice.)

share|improve this answer

Humor is subjective and it is all about context: what one person considers funny, another will find dull, questionable, or an attempt to attract attention.

From that perspective I would not add humor to my resume; you cannot predict which person is on the receiving end.

share|improve this answer
3  
That being said, job interviews are only objective in theory… –  Pierre Arlaud Jun 25 at 7:23
2  
@corsiKa: I'm pretty sure that by "only objective in theory" (s)he means "objective only in theory", i.e. "not objective in practice". So you probably don't disagree with the entire statement: you actually seem to agree with the main thrust of the statement, just not with the details of how it was worded. –  ruakh Jun 26 at 6:04

Choosing a very unconventional form for a resume is a very risky move. There are two possible outcomes:

  1. "How unprofessional, not even worth reading"
  2. "How interesting, I want to know who that guy is"

Which reaction you will get depends solely on the mindset of the person who reads it. I know that our staff manager hates to read a hundred applications which all look and sound exactly the same. Whenever she gets one which falls out of the norm, she invites that person just because they seem interesting. But I also met other staff managers who put high value on formality and professionalism and would immediately reject a candidate who violates conventions.

In the end it depends on what kind of person the company is looking for. Do they want a creative freethinker who comes up with new ideas, or formal professionals who make a good impression with customers and fall in line with company doctrine?

I would recommend a creative resume mostly for long-shot applications. When you think that you have a very low chance anyway because all other applicants likely have much better on-paper qualifications than you do, a creative application might be the only chance to get the opportunity for a personal impression.

share|improve this answer

I'd stay away from leavening my resume with humor, especially when every word counts. The only thing that matters is your work experience and your skills set and how relevant they are to your prospective employer's needs. And for whatever reason, my prospective employers are pretty humorless about their needs.

If a prospective employer is looking to fill a position, the prospective employer is on a mission and the prospective employer most likely wants to be looking at a document - your resume - that they don't have to spend more than 20 seconds to read. And they will most probably not be too fond of distractions such as humor that increase their reading chore. So, work with your prospective employer and make sure at your end that it won't take a prospective employer more than 20 seconds to go through your resume.

I've put in plenty of humor in my own Linkedin profile and the humor has been well received. However, I had made a point to say in my Linkedin profile that my Linkedin profile was not a resume but my take on my work experience and that they should be asking for my resume.

If you don't want any humor in your Linkedin profile, you can put your humor into your own website page and provide a link to that page.

share|improve this answer

There is standing out in a good way and standing out in a bad way and this will fall into the latter category in most places.

If you want to truly stand out, then accomplish something that will make you stand out. Have an interesting personal project for instance. Double major in Programming and Finance.

share|improve this answer

In large part it depends on the organization's culture.

A large corporation, for which I have worked for two, won't get the humor and won't be able to apply the yardstick to it to decide if you're an appropriate candidate. Once you get that phone screen, you may get a chance to reveal more personality. In a face to face you'll know for sure if humor is appropriate.

However in startup culture there tends to be this desire to emulate other successful startups, and often times that involves a bit of quirkiness. When I worked for a small tech company, the job posting itself made mention of the need for a candidate who cold "move mountains" and "dreams in code" and "wants to use C# as the hammer for every problem nail". The Zappos and Google startup concepts have been emulated by many other small outfits and it might work.

Instead of using humor to distinguish yourself, you might make a slightly more persuasive plea for why you'd be a good fit in the culture of the place where you're applying. Really zero in on what you know about the organization, how your skills align to its market / strategic / operational challenges, and that alignment of your abilities to their needs will serve you better.

I've only interviewed 3 times in the last 13 years. But each time I got the job by selling myself as the candidate they need on the cover letter and in the resume. You can sell your team alignment and good spirit in the face to face.

Best of luck.

share|improve this answer

I found that with all my own jobs and those around me, that how my behaviour is received reflects back on the atmosphere in the company (specifically the team) and lets both sides see how well they fit together.

Nowadays, I specifically include some tongue-in-cheek humor in every interview to check out how much I would want to work there, as I simply love joking around with colleagues from time to time.

I've sitten on the other side at the table as well and we actually preferred people with a decent amount of humor, because it's a great way to deal with stress and helping our team bond together.

Same with my girlfriend, she got her job because she showed some dry humor and in the end very much enjoyed working with her team.

Remember that there isn't the right job for everyone, but there's a right job for you and often times it's really worth checking out some more places before signing anything - that is, if you don't actually need a job as soon as possible or there are very few openings for your profession.

Still, I wouldn't ever do the mistake again of bending myself in an interview just to get the right position - in that case, it most likely simply isn't the right position. People with some interview training will also smell when you're pretending to be someone you're not and often prefer more "realistic" candidates.

Your mileage may vary - and be sure not to overdo it, especially if you're nervous.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.