If you read my post Truth In Advertising, then you know how much I “love” commercials. Advertising is about what you say and don’t say. For example, there are two current commercials that feature bits of songs. The first is a cruise line that plays “Lust for life” by Iggy Pop. They only play the part that says, “Here comes johnny yen again, Got a lust for life, Yeah, a lust for life.” But, that’s only part of the song and actually it’s a mash of two different parts of it. You can see the complete lyrics here: Lust for life. I’ll give you a preview:
Here comes johnny yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And the flesh machine
Hes gonna do another strip tease.
Hey man, whered ya get that lotion?
Ive been hurting since Ive bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah, something called love.
Well, thats like hypnotizing chickens.
Why don’t they play that part? Or how about another commercial that plays R.E.M.’s “I am superman”? They play the part that says, “I am superman and I can do anything, I am superman and I know what’s happening.” But, they leave out the next lines:
You don’t really love that guy you make it with now do you?
I know you don’t love that guy cause I can see right through you.
I am I am I am Superman and I know what’s happening.
I am I am I am Superman and I can do anything.
If you go a million miles away I’ll track you down girl.
Trust me when I say I know the pathway to your heart.
I can’t imagine why.
Clearly there are reasons to leave this stuff out of their ads – mainly, they don’t add to the message they want to send. Let me tell you another short story along similar lines, this time related to software. A friend of a friend sent me his resume so that I could point him to some local companies that matched his skill set. Before I did that, I felt compelled to point out a few things about his resume – the main thing being that it was blatantly obvious based on his college graduation date that he was over 60 years old. While age discrimination is illegal, can you prove it if you simply don’t get called in for an interview? Heck, I’ve sent my resume to job listings that practically say, “Bill, this job is tailor-made for you” and never received a phone call.
So, my response was: remove those dates. If he managed to get an interview based on his skills and experience (the important stuff), then someone was bound to notice that he was, shall we say, life experienced. However, he’d have gotten in the door and could then convince them that he was the right person for the job. There’s room on your resume for what you’ve done right in your career. There’s no need to add what you haven’t done right and no need to supply detail about things that are detrimental to you being hired. Your resume is your own advertising brochure and the lyrics to the song about your own life. (Does that sound corny or what?) It’s dishonest to change they lyrics from programmer to CTO, but it’s not dishonest to remove a few details that may prove unflattering. For example, let’s say you got fired from a job a few years ago. Is it dishonest to not put that on your resume? Of course not. There’s no precedent for putting reasons for job departures on your resume. Similarly, while dates of employment may be important to have on your resume (employers are wary of gaps), there’s no reason to let people age you and it’s illegal for a potential employer to ask you your age.
Polish up your personal brochure and have a couple of friends in the business look it over with a critical and constructive eye. Nobody’s resume is perfect, but it should be the best advertisement you can make for the best product – you.