Humor in the Job Search: Why you Should Leave Comedy off your Resume

Funny Resume

Using humor on your resume could make it end up looking like the resume above. Yuck!
Clip art courtesy of

You may be a funny person and a sense of humor may be an important quality an employer is looking for in an applicant, but that doesn’t mean you should work some jokes into your resume.  Theoretically, creating some laughs with some comedy can have its benefits in the job search (I will talk about that on a later date).  However, right now I will discuss why it doesn’t belong on your resume.

Know your audience

This is important for all types of writing, and comedy is no exception.  Getting an idea of who your audience is lets you find out some stuff about them so you can tailor your message to them.

The three professions with the least sense of humor are interrogator, executioner, and people from human resources.  Most people who look at applicant’s resumes are from human resources.  When these people are interviewed for their jobs, they are made to watch a few episodes of great sitcoms like Seinfeld, Friends, or Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  And if they are even still awake at the end, they are sent on their merry way.  Basically they won’t appreciate any of your jokes.

Note: There are exceptions within the human resources department, but why take a chance?

Resumes are scanned

I’ve heard different averages for the amount of time it takes a recruiter or human resources professional to glance at a resume.  The bad news is that they are all short; I’ve heard everything from as short as seven seconds to as long as ten seconds.

So why does this make comedy a bad idea?  Well, imagine a hiring manager asks you to tell him/her why you are qualified for a job–and they only give you ten seconds to do it.  Would you start off by saying like “A priest, a nun, and a rabbit walk into a bar…” or would you tell them about your skills and experience?  Which one is more likely to land you the job?

Oh, and it takes about ten seconds to tell a joke.  So if you thought you could tell both the joke and talk about your skills, think again.

There are other reasons to leave humor off your resume.  They overlap with the pitfalls of using comedy in other parts of the job search that I will discuss on a later date.


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