Marissa Mayer’s Resume Has Gone Viral Again. But Is It All It’s Cracked up to Be?

January 22, 2019

We’d all like to have a bullet-proof resume: no gaps, no mistakes, no vulnerabilities. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has done us one better. She has a resume that refuses to die.

Marissa’s resume surfaced in 2016 and caused a stir. It was proclaimed to be smart, beautiful, and full of personality. Turns out, it was also a fake, created by a Bulgarian tech start-up, Enhancv, to promote its resume-design platform.

Take a look:

It’s legitimacy should have been suspect from the get-go. After all, why would Marissa even need a resume? She’s got an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and is one of the most high profile figures in Silicon Valley.

A couple of weeks ago, Marissa’s counterfeit resume cropped up again, thrust into the spotlight this time around by Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the chair of AXS TV.

Cuban inadvertently ignited another heated debate in the comments below his post about the merits and faults of this savvy CV. And people had a lot to say. Here are the main takeaways:

Why it works

When the resume first went viral, headlines proclaimed it as “incredibly inventive,” something that would “inspire resume envy.” One gushing blog post said: “The design is simple, eye-catching, and inviting: a glimpse at it makes you not only want to read it, but explore it.” (Don’t get lost.)

Fans this time around called it “easy on the eyes” and “full of experience and professionalism.”

Why it doesn’t work

Not everyone loves it. For example, one person took issue with a graphic that showed how Marissa allocates her time on an average day. “[I]f I had put how I spent my time when I first started my career,” he wrote, “my career would never have started.”

“Not a big fan of the graphics,” another weighed in, “or the name dropping..."

Resume envy indeed.

The discussion also raised more substantive issues around the place of resumes in a world of online profiles and AI filters.

Many of the HR professionals who joined the extended discussion pointed out that the fabricated resume ignores how most resumes get evaluated in 2019.

Nearly all large companies now use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage candidates and bring efficiency to the hiring process. The platform scans resumes for key words and phrases and sends the most promising ones forward.

That means that serious candidates need to customize each resume for the specific job — and job description — they’re responding to. Marissa’s resume, on the other hand, is a one-size-fits-all offering.

Marissa’s resume also includes a graphic (the aforementioned “A Day of My Life”) that an ATS can’t read and includes unusual sections — “Life Philosophy,” “Most Proud Of,” “Languages” — that can choke an ATS.

It’s nice to be personable; it’s vital to be current

There are, of course, other ways than pleasing design to make a resume stand apart. Sometimes a single funny or clever line might grab your attention. It’s hard not to smile at the applicant who, under accomplishments, included “Time Magazine Person of the Year, 2006 (shared).” (That was the year that Time named “You” the person of the year.) Another candidate, under skills, mentioned “always uses just the right amount of salt, no matter the shaker.”

Some candidates are not content with a throwaway line. They make their entire resume scream, “Look at me!” One web product manager built a resume that looked exactly like an Amazon product page, while a content strategist created a six-second Vine resume, a clever nod to the average time a recruiter will, according to one study, look at each resume.

There is one undisputed problem with Marissa’s resume: It’s wildly out-of-date. Since her resume was created in 2016, Marissa has arranged the $4.5 billion sale of Yahoo’s internet business to Verizon and left to start Lumi Labs, a venture focused on consumer applications enabled by artificial intelligence.

Whether job seekers are promoting themselves with a killer LinkedIn profile or an eye-catching infographic resume, it’s critical that their professional recap is completely up-to-date — in hiring, currency is the coin of the realm. Which may be the one point that talent acquisition professionals everywhere can agree on.

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