He’s a three-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time MVP and one of the most famous athletes in the US. But 15 years ago, Tom Brady was just another guy out of college who was looking for a job. Fortunately for him – and for the New England Patriots – he was drafted in the 6th round, and everything else is history.
But what if that didn’t happen? What if Brady had to get a regular job, like, say, one in the financial sector? After posting his original resume on Facebook, we can now, years later, assess Brady’s chances. His resume offers several examples of what not to do, particularly considering his background actually sets up rather well for an entry-level job in financial services, according to experts.
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Rookies need an objective
Brady made one fatal error – and several smaller, less obvious ones – with his resume. He didn’t lead off with an objective, something resume experts and career coaches say is imperative for recent graduates with no clear professional history.
“The downside to not having a summary is (a) employers do not know what job he wants and (b) employers won't take the time to figure out where he is a good fit,” said Lisa Rangel, a former recruiter and current managing director of Chameleon Resumes.
Overuse of upper case
One of the more common resume mistakes, particularly for recent graduates, is the overuse of upper case. “It’s essentially a typo,” said Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. Brady’s resume is littered with the mistake.
In the most obvious example, Brady capitalizes a random verb – “construct” – for no reason. He also switches back and forth between upper and lower case when identifying his position within descriptions.
“It’s a distraction, and as a typo, it makes it look like you don’t know what you are doing,” Cohen said, noting that capitalization issues are often seen in senior resumes as well. Also, back in 1999, it was Merrill Lynch & Co., which Brady failed to write out in full, Cohen said.
He buried the lead
Hiring managers and recruiters have told us on multiple occasions how important leadership and competitiveness are when looking to entry-level openings, particularly for brokerage positions, like, say, at Merrill Lynch. As such, banks love hiring athletes who competed at the highest levels.
One Wall Street firm at one point employed eight Olympians. There even exists an athletic-focused recruiting firm that concentrates solely on placing former college standouts at financial services companies.
Yet, Brady decided to bury the fact that he was elected team captain of the University of Michigan football team in the “additional” section, which is usually where people will denote that they are proficient in Excel or conversational Spanish.
“He dumped the most powerful bullets on his resume down where no one can see them,” Cohen said. “They should be highlighted up top under ‘Education,’”
He says nothing, a lot
If hiring managers complain about one thing in particular, it’s that candidates don’t provide quantifiable achievements. Rather, they just list job responsibilities. Brady didn’t really do either.
“Tom’s resume would benefit from including the volume of sales he contributed to the University of Michigan Gold Shop or the size of the client portfolio’s he did reporting and inventory control for at Merrill Lynch,” said Rangel. “Another angle to give a college resume size and scope is to answer how large is the department you are a part of or how many clients served in a period of time.”
There is also a lack of precision in describing his positions, Cohen adds. Brady’s bullet points are passive – “gained invaluable experience working under club professionals” – and often focus on vague takeaways involving him rather than what he did for the employer.
Overall, Brady had “a great background” for an entry-level financial services job, according to Cohen. He had a 3.3 GPA while captaining a major college football team and worked during every summer. It appeared he worked two jobs during the summers of 1998 and 1999 – at Merrill Lynch and at golf courses – but failed to point that out.
“It shows a great work ethic – pointing out that you worked seven days a week,” Cohen said.
But, with a great background, Brady did himself no favors with how he put together his resume. Luckily the whole football and marrying a model thing worked out for him, though.
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