Today on reddit, a student pilot asked whether certificated pilots’ resumes say so when applying for non-aviation jobs.

Interesting question, and there are generally for and against camps on the broad topic of “extraneous” information on resumes. Rather than trading the usual anecdotes, I wondered how the scientific literature answers or at least informs understanding of this topic.

Workplace.SE seemed like a great place to ask the question and get insightful responses. Instead, two people whose comment and non-responsive answer showed clearly that they did not understand that the question — much less that it asked for facts and evidence — nevertheless voted to close for being “primarily opinion-based.” This was especially disappointing considering that the question emphasized that opinion was not what was being sought at all.

This small episode is representative of the workplace in real life, so it is at at least instructive in that regard.

Where was I unclear? How might I rephrase the question to keep it in line with the site guidelines and more importantly gain new insights?

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    I'm strangely ambivalent on this question. Focusing a question on research should be fine on this network, though odds are that there will be little available. Your question does come across as somewhat low-effort since you presumably didn't do any digging yourself before posting and for such an academic question that's often regarded as a poor sign. At the same time, I think your question can be more practically summarised as "Should my resume stand out?" which would be the canonical version of most of the questions you linked. We could use such a question but I don't think this is it.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 25, 2017 at 6:58
  • @Lilienthal Thank you for your feedback. As stated, the practical summary would seem to invite answers that are primarily opinion-based or perhaps anecdote-based: “According to my esteemed professional experience …” or “Well, this one time …” I unwittingly touched a nerve in this community by asking about supporting literature; my intent behind the call for objectivity was to fit within SE’s Q&A format. As you noted, the question would be useful, so how do you suggest avoiding a primarily opinion-based form of it?
    – Greg Bacon
    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:30
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    It's more that it's uncommon for OP's to specify what answers can and can't contain. I've done it before but it's a tricky requirement to add as once submitted a question can be edited to fit site guidelines and answerers are generally free to answer as they see fit. And a question that's basically "Please summarise all available empirical research on this topic for me" is bound to attract downvotes.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:57
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    We predominantly focus on practical questions with practical answers and very rarely on academic stuff like this with no clearly defined goal. The practical version of this question is just a one line "Should I make my resume stand out?". To which the answer is generally "No" if you're talking about gimmicks or formatting but "of course" when it comes to content.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:57
  • @Lilienthal I incorporated your feedback into a revised question.
    – Greg Bacon
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


I agree with you -- that is an objective, answerable question and in scope here.

Some comments say things like "someone would have to do research" and "why do you think studies exist?", but I think they miss the point. HR is a professional field, and not new. Many resumes get scanned, parsed, and stashed in databases. It's reasonable to suspect that both people interested in the topic and the data to do the research exist. And academic researchers study all sorts of things.

I don't know if such research exists, but asking about it here seems quite reasonable to me. The question should be reopened.

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  • @JoeStrazzere That question asked for pointers to research that might readily come from a search query. In contrast, mine asked for resume strategies supported by the literature rather than the usual cognitive biases.
    – Greg Bacon
    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:44
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    @GregBacon - the results of the queries I left in comments return results that are the literature. You are asking folks to do the research for you and boil it down to statements supported by the results of that search. While you might find someone who has done the work already, I suspect that you will have to do it yourself. The question is answerable in theory, but I'm not sure anyone would already have your answer. Good luck. (I personally don't care if the question is closed or open). Oct 25, 2017 at 11:20
  • @Joe and others: that makes it a weak question, not a close-worthy one. We have lots of questions where the OP hasn't done enough first that we haven't closed. Many of them get answers, some don't. Open unanswered questions are ok. Oct 25, 2017 at 13:11
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    I have voted to reopen. "It is too much effort to answer this question" is almost certainly not a valid close reason.
    – Masked Man
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:14
  • @Masked, Monica, and Joe: Thank you for your feedback. I revised the question back on the main site and hope it is not too watered down.
    – Greg Bacon
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:36
  • The current answer pretty much covers it, no one is going to do a study for the OP and if they did we'd have to wait a couple of years before they publiish results if it's going to be a useful and comprehensive study.
    – Kilisi Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 14:59
  • The basic question is not do the studies exist, it is what is the magic bullet for my resume, which is off topic, and as asked way to broad. A rework of the question to ask for specific question could work, but theory questions do not work well here. Especially when they include unverified "Facts". Honestly asking to understand the 4 "facts" included could each be good questions, but as a single question its just too big of a topic. Nov 8, 2017 at 17:14

I am assuming that your latest canonical question was closed as "opinion-based" because it was perceived as misleading and incorrect.

Until you're willing to remove/edit the statement regarding Fraternities, or at least try to defend it and actually say that it is actually correct, I'm not sure it's worth working on those other issues.

The Fraternity Paradox: Lower GPA, Higher Incomes.

Greek Fraternities do not have Lower GPA averages, they have higher average GPAs than the average student population (because they kick out any brother who has a low GPA, but that's beside the point).

According to Stephen Schmidt and Lewis Davis, two economists at Union College who (along with Jack Mara, class of 2010, whose undergraduate thesis became the basis for the paper) studied the effects of fraternity membership at a Northeastern liberal arts college, “fraternity membership lower[ed] student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but rais[ed] future income by approximately 36%.”

If you carefully read between the lines of the study quoted in the news article, you'll see that the people who authored that study actually chose their words very carefully, and that they must have known that Greek Fraternities on average have higher GPAs than the overall student population, but that the entire news article does everything it can to imply the opposite through careful ambiguous quoting the study's findings and through its purposefully very misleading click-bait headline.

As to writing canonical questions, I don't think it's an easy task. I've never done it myself.

Usually, it's someone who is tired of answering the same type of question over and over again. So then he posts a canonical question and then immediately posts a comprehensive answer that he has already prepared in advance.

In your case, that's not what happened, you've posted all your research upfront within the question itself. Furthermore, your own research doesn't seem to satisfy the criterion of "fact-based" definitiveness you try to impose on the rest of us, as it's linking to a distorted secondary source with an agenda and a tertiary source found on a political website. Although, I do really like the personal experiment posted by Paul Butler on his blog. You should definitely keep that one.

To be more effective, you should give us a chance to vote on your question and answer separately and also refine your comprehensive answer. And you should link to the original studies or experiments when you can. And if someone thinks they can do better than your canonical answer, that person will jump in, but until then, I think you should work on your own comprehensive answer and continue to refine it.

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    As originally stated, it was objective, answerable, and in scope in @Monica’s appraisal. Lilienthal suggested recasting it as a canonical question for the umpteen variants. I didn’t ask anyone to perform research or about a “perfect recipe.” In Monica’s words, these uncharitable readings “miss the point.” I assumed the established field of HR having ample data might have already looked into it with straightforward A/B testing. The clear answer is no.
    – Greg Bacon
    Oct 27, 2017 at 22:14
  • No, the clear answer is not "no". At least not according to Google Scholar which gives over 10 thousands results, some of which at first glance look interesting. I just don't have the time to read them or digest them myself. scholar.google.com/scholar?q=resumes+and+gpa (Thanks to @Joe Strazzere for providing that link in the chat window for that question) Oct 28, 2017 at 7:41
  • Slanderous? Because of articles regarding Fraternities? I guess I don't see the slander. Either way, one of the problems with providing a valuable answer to such a question is what validity one places on "scholarly articles". It's not hard to find articles on both sides of just about any question. And it's not hard to justify any point you wish to make by cherry-picking only the articles that support your point. Oct 28, 2017 at 14:52
  • @Joe Strazzere, No, not because of "scholarly articles". The original scholarly article, I have no problem with. It's here. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/coep.12249/abstract (it's freely accessible, not just the abstract, but the entire study is freely available). My point is that there is no point in linking to a news article written by someone else that is purposefully trying to mislead and distort what the original study was about. And yes, even a social science article can be biased, but I believe that's fine as long as you try to link to its original source. Oct 28, 2017 at 22:45
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    @StephanBranczyk - I guess I don't see anything slanderous. While any article might be considered misleading and distorting to some, slander involves spoken statements that damage a specific person's reputation. It's hard to imagine that had anything to do with the question being closed. I take it you are offended by folks writing poorly about fraternities and that's really what you are trying to say here? Oct 28, 2017 at 22:52
  • @JoeStrazzere, No, I mean that what the article is implying from its headline is completely different from what the original scholarly study is saying. Once again, Greek Fraternities have higher GPAs than the student population. They always have and they always will have. That's the way the Greek system is set up. And the original study certainly doesn't contradict that point, but the news article does, in fact, it tries to imply the very opposite. Oct 28, 2017 at 23:42
  • Anyway, I'm only asking that we use the original "scholarly" article instead of the news article which was written by someone else. I believe this is a reasonable request considering the original aim of the OP. Joe, even if you disagree with me about the other stuff, please let me know if you think this is also a reasonable request, or not. Oct 29, 2017 at 0:11
  • @StephanBranczyk - anyone can always state that one bullet point in a multi-bullet question offends you. And you can ask that it be removed. And you can vote it down and vote to close it if you like. As always, the moderators and the community as a whole make the ultimate decision regarding all questions. I don't see anything that supports a claim of slander though. Oct 29, 2017 at 11:30
  • @JoeStrazzere, That's fine. I only wanted to see if you could see that the headline was misleading at least. I guess you don't see it. Oct 29, 2017 at 13:35
  • @StephanBranczyk - I'm glad to see you removed the word "slanderous" and replaced it with "incorrect". I can see that this issue is important to you. I doubt that the question was closed because of links to an article regarding fraternities, but everyone has their own reasons and anything is possible. Oct 29, 2017 at 13:58

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