Bill Gates is undoubtedly one of the most famous and influential entrepreneurial minds of our time. The original founder of Microsoft currently holds a net worth of over 97 billion. It’s difficult to imagine one of the wealthiest people on the planet as an average joe, but there was certainly a time when Bill was writing resumes and applying for jobs along with the rest of us. Unfortunately, his resume from the 70s hasn’t exactly aged well in the time it’s spent in the Living Computers Museum in Seattle.
While this document is certainly dated and there wasn’t exactly an abundance of sleek resume templates available when Mr. Gates wrote this, there are still some key insights we can gleam from examining this relic. It’s important to note that this was written while Gates was 18, and he had yet to make the savvy entrepreneurial moves that would lead to the founding of Microsoft.
The first thing that stands out in this document is the lack of bullet points. While this was not as much of a standard in the 70s as it is now, many job seekers still make the mistake of using paragraphs to describe their accomplishments and work history. The issue centers around readability. Bullet points are used as a vehicle to ensure your accomplishments stand out. In a paragraph, you run the risk of overburdening your document with too many unnecessary details, which can lessen the impact of your achievements on hiring managers as they scan your resume.
The other issue is that these paragraphs aren’t stylistically appealing. The key to writing a strong resume is ensuring consistency across the whole document. For instance, you’ll want to keep your top position in the past tense even if you’re currently working there. There are two reasons for this. First, writing in the present tense tends to read like an abstract list of job responsibilities rather than actual accomplishments. Using the past tense confirms that you actually completed these actions. Secondly, the shift from present tense in your top position to past tense in your older positions is jarring for the reader. Consistency throughout the resume eliminates this risk.
Another issue is the education section. There are no dates provided, and because it’s formatted as a paragraph, a large amount of page space is wasted. Even if you’re a student currently pursuing a degree, it’s best to provide an estimate for when your degree will be completed. If Bill Gates was only a semester or two away from graduating rather than just beginning his college education that could potentially have an impact on whether or not he receives the job offer.
Something else on this document to consider, which hasn’t been fully phased out of contemporary resumes, is the inclusion of an objective at the top. The issue with objectives is that they’re providing your employer with some brief insights into your professional goals, rather than your actual qualifications. In the case of Bill’s resume, all he’s actually doing is listing the two types of positions he’s currently applying for. We would recommend instead using this space to provide a brief professional summary that details some key specializations that align with the needs of the company you’re applying for.
It’s impossible to argue with the success Bill Gates has achieved over his long career, and in many ways, it’s heartening to analyze this piece of history from his roots. No one starts off at the top. Learning from these early career mistakes and applying these principles to your resume will give you the best chance at landing the interview and securing the job you truly deserve.