People often ask me if I ever get tired of reading and writing people’s résumés all the time. They deduce because that all resumes are written to get jobs, they must all be exceedingly dull reading. “How can you stand it?” they ask.

“Résumés,” I tell them, “Are often the funniest pieces of writing you will ever read, and one of these days I’m going to write a stand-up comedy routine that will catapult me to the top or that profession. Move over Russell Peters.

The excitement begins when a client comes to me with a résumé to review. I take the approach championed by Lynne Truss in her book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (2003). The title itself is a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction—and derived from a joke on bad punctuation:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘Well, I’m a panda’, he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

In other words, I look for errors like this, correct them, and offer information on where a person could best apply to find an exciting position in the real world. Here are some examples:

  • In the interest section, an applicant wrote that she enjoyed cooking Chinese and Italians. I suggested she must have an impressive collection of pots.
  • An archaeology professor looked embarrassed when I pointed out a typo. He wanted to write the word “cannery” when he wrote “canary.” He made the same mistake on the title of his book.
  • Someone explained a 1-year absence from the labour market by writing “… to renovate my horse.”
  • Another candidate explained a three month absence because he was grieving the loss of his cat.
  • Under language skills, a hopeful wrote, “English, German, and Spinach.”
  • Another wrote that she wouldn’t carry out a personal relationship with someone unless they have similar interests.
  • Still another said he was loyal and knows when to keep his big mouth shut.

In short, a résumé can be funny, but it shouldn’t.  Before you submit it, you should hire someone like me to take away all the unintentional jokes.

 Mike Broderick is a BCRPA fitness instructor and an employment specialist at the Neil Squire Society where he finds jobs for the physically disabled. He is a fitness humourist for Alive Magazine and owns and operates The Spin Doctor Resume Service where he does resumes for anyone wishing to become upwardly mobile. He may be reached at or at 604-464-4195. He lives in Port Coquitlam BC about 29 kilobytes from Vancouver. He is already


One Response to “CAN A RÉSUMÉ BE FUNNY?”

  1. Barbara Cooley Says:

    Very funny, Mike! I especially like your response to the woman who likes to cook Chinese and Italians. 🙂

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