Famous Resumes: What Job Seekers Can Learn

Resume Mistakes of the Rich and Famous

Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only social networks that are home to some of the country’s most famous men and women. Many politicians, movie stars, business owners and other well-known figures also have profiles on LinkedIn, a career-oriented social networking site. Of all the users on LinkedIn, these celebrities likely have the least need to network and find jobs, but their profiles nonetheless offer a rare glimpse into the resumes of the rich and famous, and while their careers may be worth emulating, their resumes often aren’t. MainStreet asked two career experts to analyze the LinkedIn profiles of some of America’s most famous workers to find lessons for average job hunters. As an aside, we should note that most of these profiles are probably not managed by the individual themselves, and unfortunately, unlike Twitter, LinkedIn does not verify that these accounts are held by the individual in question. Photo Credit: Image Editor


Barack Obama

Leading up to the 2008 presidential elections, one of the biggest criticisms against Barack Obama was that his resume was a little too light. Now that he’s served the majority of his first term as president of the United States, though, it seems doubtful Obama will face this criticism when trying to win a second term. That said, the resume he has up on LinkedIn still looks pretty light. Obama lists four positions he’s held in his career, including his time as college professor, state senator, U.S. senator and now as president, but offers little in the way of specifics about his achievements in each. “Whether it’s your LinkedIn profile, your resume or your cover letter, it should be achievement driven,” said Mei Lu, founder and CEO of Jobfully.com, a career blog. “But with Obama’s profile, there really is a lack of detail. You don’t know how much of an impact he generated as a senator or as president.” Indeed, all that Obama (or more likely his staff) write of his current job is that “I am serving as the 44th President of the United States of America,” but it says nothing of the legislation he has passed. That may be acceptable for a man who never has to send in a resume for a job again, but for normal job hunters, Lu says it’s crucial to emphasize your most recent achievements and projects. The president’s LinkedIn account does get some things right. For starters, he provides a clear outline of his personal philosophy and way of leading the country, noting his emphasis in “common purpose,” and most importantly, according to Lu, he does so in a concise way, taking just two sentences to outline his views. Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Bill Gates

He may have been the richest man in the world, but on LinkedIn, Bill Gates seems to have very poor networking abilities; he only has five connections on the site. For any normal user, that would be mistake No. 1, since taking the time to network is vital to finding a job. For Gates, it may not be such a big deal, because he has a huge network offline. What may be more surprising is how poorly he describes himself and his accomplishments. “Bill Gates is a person who needs no introduction, but putting that side, he is not using LinkedIn to paint a picture of who he is and what he does,” Lu said. “If you were to take out his name, this profile tells you nothing about the candidate.” Gates’ profile lists his time as chairman of Microsoft and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, his charity organization, but does not offer up any specific achievements or programs he worked on in either of these capacities. Gates also does not include a picture of himself or links to any of his companies or projects to find out more about him. One thing Lu does like about his profile though is its continuity. “There is no gap in his career history whatsoever,” she said, highlighting the fact that Gates succinctly explains why he left Microsoft to work full time at his charity. “You see the entire story of his career.” Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s LinkedIn profile includes much of what any job hunter should have. There is a detailed career history with a summary section that offers a narrative for her career. She has more than 500 connections on the site (the maximum bracket LinkedIn shows) to highlight her vast network, and unlike many other celebrities on our list she includes links to several other sites to find out more about her, which can be hugely beneficial to a job candidate. “This really helps people to connect the pieces so they can find more about you and what you have done,” said Samantha Zupan, spokeswoman for Glassdoor.com, a job search engine. “On the Internet, you always want to give people as much information as possible to learn more about you.” One thing Clinton’s profile doesn’t do that Zupan says it should is to include a picture, which can be a powerful way of connecting with peers and potential employers, particularly on LinkedIn. “It’d be great to have her at a political event with all the balloons to show her in action,” Zupan said. “It’s a way for people to connect with her.” But perhaps the biggest lesson from Clinton’s profile may simply be the need to update your resume and social networks to keep them fresh. At the moment, Clinton’s page lists her current job as candidate for president, rather than secretary of state. That’s how rumors get started. Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon’s LinkedIn profile reads more like an entry on the Internet Movie Database than a resume. Rather than organize his career by the various movie studios he has worked for, Bacon simply lists all of his movies and groups them together in 10-year increments, saying nothing about them or his career beyond that. “It’s all well and good to see this long of movie credits he has, but we are not sure where he wants to go next in his career,” Lu said. Instead, she suggests Bacon should have indicated the movies he was particularly proud of, just as an employee would highlight his or her most significant projects. Next, the employee could include a sentence describing his or her goals and future projects he or she would like to take on. One thing Bacon does do quite well in his profile is to include a quote from Entertainment Weekly in his summary, referring to him as an entertainer with “bone-dry humor and [an] average-Joe ability to tell it like it is.” According to Zupan, this simple reference offers a valuable insight into his character, and while it may turn off some potential employers, it will hopefully strike a chord with the one that is right for him. “You’re not trying to attract 1,000 employers, you’re trying to attract one, so spelling out that extra detail is good,” Zupan said. Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin famously signed up for a LinkedIn account shortly after resigning as the governor of Alaska. On the site, she mentions five of her jobs, from being a council member in the small town of Wasilla, Alaska, to her nearly three years as governor, but she does not provide descriptions or accomplishments for any of these positions. “There is a lack of brand and achievement on her profile. You really don’t know what she is about,” Lu said. “If it’s for a voter, there is no reason to vote for her by reading this, other than knowing what positions she held. And if it’s for an employer, again, it shows zero achievement.” However, Lu does praise Palin for two choices she made with her profile. First, she did not include positions she held outside of government, like competing in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, her time on the high school basketball team and more recently, her reality TV show. “Her profile is all very government-focused, which is right. This gives it more of a focus, so you won’t think about her being Miss Alaska,” Lu said. The lesson here for job hunters, according to each of the career experts we spoke with, is that you don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done in your life on your resume. If it’s something that is really important to you but that doesn’t fit in with your other career experiences, Zupan suggests making a special section called “passions” or “hobbies” and noting it there. Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Mark Zuckerberg

It may seem strange for Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, to be on another social network, but given that he is the most popular user on Google+, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. What makes Zuckerberg’s profile unique among the rest on our list is his minimal experience. Zuckerberg graduated from Harvard in 2004, and Facebook is his first job. As a result, Zuckerberg’s resume plays up his accomplishments in college more than the rest, something Zupan praises him for. “He treats his education like a job and showcases his successes at Harvard, which is great,” she said. In this section, Zuckerberg highlights two programs he created in college, which achieved some modest success. His big mistake here, according to Zupan, is failing to elaborate more about his time at Facebook. In fact, he devotes four times as much space to his Harvard years as he does to Facebook, writing only of the latter that he is “trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share.” “It’s no small feat to say how many Facebook users there are, how it has helped people in political strife or helped people connect with long-lost relatives,” she said. “He should highlight some of those amazing stories in his profile.” Photo Credit: LinkedIn.com


Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf may not be a household name, but if you’re reading this article, you certainly owe him a debt of gratitude. Cerf, a computer scientist, helped to create the Internet three decades ago. More than any other user on the list, Cerf has the profile of someone who actually uses LinkedIn on a semi-regular basis. He has a vast network of more than 500 connections, has been recommended by 14 other users and has detailed descriptions for many of the positions he held throughout his career. Beyond that, Cerf also includes his preferred way for users to contact him (via email), which Zupan says is a great step for employees to better connect with peers and potential employers. For all of that though, Lu argues that Cerf’s profile focuses a bit too much on the past rather than the future. He mentions science and engineering jobs he worked back in the 1970s and 1980s, but says little about his aspirations. In her eyes, he makes up for those mistakes, though, with the first sentence of his summary section, which says, “I am the co-inventor of the Internet, its architecture and the core TCP/IP protocols.” “That’s all I really need to read,” Lu said.


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