When I first starting writing resumes 13 years ago, it was not uncommon for my clients to want tell future employers about how they graduated with honors. The universities use the Latin term “cum laude” on the degree to distinguish these hard working students. However, you may remember that spam emails were rampant early in the new millennium, usually adversiting websites containing adult content or enhancement drugs. Employers began using “spam blockers” to keep sexually explicit messages from ever reaching their company inbox.
This posed a problem for job searchers who were highly qualified and graduated cum laude. That’s because, cum has a different meaning in English than it does Latin, and it became one of those words that triggered the spam blocker. Resumes that listed this phrase never made it to the intended recipient. Instead, the documents were sent directly into spam folders and deleted. Professional resume writers were told not to use the phrase at all, and instead write “with honors.”
As with everything else in the job search, the rules are once again changing. According to chatter this week in resume writer e-groups, the spam blockers from 2004 are no longer relevant, and emails sent back and forth among the members discussing the “cum laude” issue are not being rejected. Perhaps the software has become more context-based, although this is in no way a scientific study.
Does this mean we can go back to using “cum laude” on a resume? Maybe. I always tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to changes like this. However it’s nice to know that students who work hard, and earn top honors are less likely to be ignored anymore because of spam blocking software.