They Put THAT on Their Resume? – The Pros and Cons of Quirky Qualifications


Sometimes, a candidate’s eagerness to stand out can result in some great icebreakers for interviews. Other times, it can generate something completely inappropriate.

SHRM’s Kathy Gurchiek compiled some of most eye-catching examples of resume idiosyncrasies and the reactions of the interviewers. See if you can guess which ones worked and which didn’t.

Detailed winnings from their online poker tournaments.

This individual applied for a position in quantitative finance, so it actually worked in the applicant’s favor.

“The companies I worked with placed a high premium on an employee’s ability to make quantitative decisions. Since poker is such a nuanced, probabilistic game, someone who’s had success as a professional poker player is a plus,” said recruitment manager Ann Guo. “I’ve hired a number of people who had a strong poker background, coupled with a strong analytics background, who detailed their poker achievements on their resumes.”

Listed themselves as a “psychic” and “mind reader.”

Despite the applicant’s unique explanation, their lack of other qualifications was their downfall.

Dylan Rauch, Talent Associate at Fit Small Business, said, “As part of the job application process, we ask candidates to submit a response to the question, ‘Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?’ The candidate responded to that by saying, ‘My mind-reading and psychic abilities give me an advantage because I can predict what other people want and need.'”

Unfortunately, the individual couldn’t predict that they wouldn’t land the interview.

Touted his job as “head of rolling” for a touring rock band.

And no, he wasn’t referring to the “roll” in rock and roll. Surprisingly, it went over well.

“I think the idea was to illustrate [the applicant’s] good-with-people traits and willingness to commit by going on a tour,” said Darko Jacimovic. He is co-founder of whattobecome, an e-learning provider in Prague, Czech Republic. “It was hilarious.”

Claimed to be “proficient in voodoo curses.”

“I was like, ‘I’ve seen enough,’ said Adam Gasper, SHRM-CP, human resources consultant in New Port Richey, Fla.

Let’s hope the candidate was all talk.

Recalled accomplishments from pre-adulthood, such as head cheerleader.

“When graduates are applying to positions and creating a resume, I understand it can be difficult to find content without much experience,” said Theresa Santoro, director of operations and HR at Actualize Consulting in Washington, D.C.

“I appreciated that she listed this role of ‘head cheerleader,’ as it showed she had leadership capabilities. Unfortunately, our position was not a fit for her.”

Candidates who take the extra step to reveal their authentic personality in a resume shouldn’t automatically be disqualified because this approach doesn’t fit the norm. Additions like these can provide a window into how the candidate will fit into the culture, not just the position. In a truly inclusive workplace, talent can come in all different forms.

For more eye-popping resume stories, read Kathy’s in-depth article about the topic on