Great Resume Writing According To Google
April 29, 2014

Great Resume Writing According To Google

The Internet is full of ‘how to write a good resume’ advice, or some or other chancer telling us what the perfect resume includes or omits. Advice straight from the head of Google’s human resources, though, is worth taking notice of.

Laszlo Bock presides over the hiring of 100 new employees each week at Google. As Time reported, he offered some “morsels of wisdom to the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman this weekend” on the subject of what really makes a killer resume, and expanded to make some valuable suggestions on getting qualifications and on interview technique too.

The first piece of advice is to be specific. “Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’” Bock says. “Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’”

I suppose some of us are vague on resumes because the reality is less impressive. Some people may put ‘wrote for the New York Times’ and are not more specific because what that actually means is that they made a comment on an article on one of their webpages. But where we have genuinely achieved things, it seems that employers want as much detail as possible.

The next piece of advice is in relation to gaining qualifications, which of course precedes any resume writing. He says that a lower grade in a more difficult course looks better than a high grade in an easy or irrelevant course. The example given is that “a B in computer science could be more significant than an A+ in English “because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.”

On the subject of interviews, Bock says that specificity is important, just as it is on resume. “What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” It makes sense that if a potential employee knows what an interviewer or interviewers want to know, they will also know what they require if and when they become their boss. It is easy to think of an interview almost as a piece of theater, but what interviewers really want is to ascertain how well we can do their job, not how well we can execute interview techniques or show off.

Another thing that came up in the New York Times piece was the decisiveness of a college degree. Although Bock says that college is of course important, he suggests, “most don’t put enough thought into why they’re going, and what they want to get out of it.” Google is employing increasing numbers of non-graduates.

Above and beyond a college degree or winning interview handshake, the first thing Google looks for is “general cognitive ability — the ability to learn things and solve problems.” If we attempt to prove with specific examples on our resume that we can do that, we may well be able to work for Google, or many other organizations we may wish to apply to.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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