Resume Writing 101 (says me)

Part of my job at my company is to interview potential employees whose resumes fit a technical profile – basically they’re a Java/WebSphere person (or aspire to be). They range from entry level people (who don’t really fit this blog post) to people who have been doing development for many years. I have two major pet peeves about resumes for potential candidates.

  1. Size Matters

    When I was at Miami University, we had a chance to work with a ‘resume writer’ who was a real stickler on a having a single page resume. I’m not that strict, but I do have my limits. Just as I don’t see how someone could, even briefly, describe 5 or more years of diverse experience in a single page, I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone could need 10 pages to give me a brief synopsis of their career, skills, and desires. I see these ten page resumes and think that someone was paid to farm every acronym known to technology and find a way to stick it into a resume meant for my inbox. Its irritating. What makes it worse is when the conversation goes something like this:
    Me: ‘So, I see here that you have experience with [insert acronym here]’

    Interviewee: ‘Yes, well I was on a project where we made extensive use of [said acronym]’

    Me: ‘During that project, how much did you deal with [said acronym]?’

    Interviewee: ‘uhhh hummm. Well, I was in charge of [different acronym] and had to write an ANT script to pull in the [said acronym] jar file’

    OK, Ok… so its not usually that bad, but you can tell on these insanely large resumes that the person has been no more than ‘exposed’ to half the stuff listed the resume. On the other hand I’ve gotten short, concise resumes that barely interest me, only to have the interviewees blow me away with a breadth and depth of knowledge that buries what was listed in the resume.

    I think there is a middle ground somewhere in there. Where the resume tells enough of the story that a potential employer sees you as a possible fit and wants to spend some time (more than 15 minutes) with you to determine if you would be a good fit in their organization. I hope my resume hits it, but only future potential employers would know (I’m not looking).

  2. Originality Counts for Something

    This is no joke… I’ve seen two resumes in a weeks time that were 98% identical in content (besides some whitespace, only the candidate names and previous position company names were changed). It is plain to see that the candidates are being marketed by a firm or that they by chance copied the resume of someone I just interviewed or will be interviewing. Either way, its a turn off for me.

    If you’re being marketed by a firm I instantly know that your resume is fluff. I have zero faith in anything it says and will therefore shuffle it to the bottom of my pile, right or wrong. I have dealt with far too many of these candidates and realize that their responses are as canned as their resumes – to the point of being humorous sometimes. Case in point (Not verbatim, but close)
    Me: ‘Can you give me an example of how you have used EJBs to solve a specific business problem?’

    Interviewee: ‘EJBs are a mechanism in J2EE by which you can encapsulate business logic’

    Me: ‘Ooooookay. What would I use Servlet Chaining for?’

    Interviewee: ‘Servlets are a mechanism in J2EE by which you can encapsulate web form requests and other web interactions’

    That one was probably the worst case I’ve seen, but there are many other instances that come close. I mean, really, whats the point of putting things on your resume that you can’t answer questions about in a conversational manner?

So, I guess what I’m saying is to make your resume interesting, concise, readable, and REAL. All you need to do is get in the door, or on the phone of the potential employer – then your charm, charisma, and L33t technical skillz will win you the job. 😉

Posted in BusinessMgmt, EAI, LifeLessons, SoftwareDev

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