resume

“I just slammed out 300 resume applications for which I am more than qualified for this week, I doubt I will hear from even one”

June 27, 2010 Job hunting No comments

A recent poster to reddit asked I just slammed out 300 resume applications for which I am more than qualified for this week, I doubt I will hear from even one…..any advice for [engineering] job hunting?

If I’m hiring people, the slammed out resumes mean nothing to me. You want to know the number one way to attract my attention? Write a cover letter that says that you’ve actually done some research into the job for which you’re applying.

It’s a buyer’s market out there. You’re putting your resume out there with, say, 500 other applicants. Wading through that much shotgunned resume crap is daunting at best. Give me something to grab hold of. Give me a reason to say “Hey, this looks interesting.”

Don’t waste your time applying for 300 positions. There are not 300 positions out there for which you are qualified, and that you would be happy doing. Instead of shotgunning them, work on two or three or five and really get into understanding the job. Research the company. Research what they need. Find out everything about the company that you can, and spend the time figuring out what you bring to the table that will help the company the most.

Finally, those 300 applications came from where, Monster or some job site? Less then 10% of jobs get filled through job boards. Personal networking accounts for about two thirds of job placement. Instead of wasting time with shotgunning resumes that are obviously shotgunned, work to talk to everyone you can and find pointers to other people who can help you find a job. The jobs are out there, but you have to know where they are.

How to do a web resume right

June 13, 2010 Job hunting No comments ,

I’m humbled checking out the web resume for my friend Julian Cash. It hits all the right buttons.

  • Catchy domain name, hirethisgeek.com.
  • Strong bulleted overview of his skills on the front page.
  • Links to key points in the margin on the right, and at the bottom of each page
  • Subpages about important areas of interest (project management, programming, etc)
  • Contact information at the bottom of every page
  • Testimonials page, although I’d put some information about each person to give weight to their words.

If you can get your web resume to be even one tenth as interesting as Julian’s, you’re way ahead of your competition.

How does a contractor make his resume appealing to a hiring manager?

May 12, 2009 Ask Andy, Career, Job hunting, Resumes No comments ,

A reader of Land The Tech Job You Love wrote to ask:

I have been searching for this type of book for years now. One question, as I’m only on page 75: How does a contractor make his resume appealing to a hiring manager?
I do NOT want to contract, but in DC, it seems to be the only way to either get a job or get a foot-hold into a long-term opportunity. But I hear from so many hiring types that they hate “job hoppers”. But I’m not. I want and crave a long-term full-time position.
How do I address that?

Exactly how you just did it.

Put it in your cover letter. “I’ve been a contractor out of necessity for the last two years, but I want a long-term full-time position where I can set down some roots with the company. I think that WangoTech can benefit in the long-term from my skills as a …”

You can also try to turn this potential negative into a positive. “I’ve worked on a wide variety of database systems, including Oracle, PostgreSQL and DB2, for companies from a 10-person accounting firm to a Fortune 100 textile manufacturer.” You’ll show the breadth of knowledge you bring to the position.

If you’re concerned about the resume not being seen along with the cover letter, I’d suggest adding a final bullet point to the professional summary at the top of the resume, such as:

<blockquote* Experienced contractor looking to start a long-term full-time position in DC area

In some ways, it’s the dreaded Objective, which should never appear in your resume but I think that if you put it as the last bullet in the summary, you’ll put the reader’s mind at ease, before she gets to the work history that shows you’re a contractor.

I saw a comedian once explain that if there’s anything out of the ordinary with you (very tall or short, a speech impediment, etc), you call attention to it at the beginning of your routine. If you don’t, your audience will fixate on that aspect of you and not listen to what you’re saying. Just do half a minute to acknowledge the attention-grabber, and move on. That’s the approach I suggest you take in this case.

Sometimes when we write resumes, we’re so concerned with short sentences and bullets, we forget about the power of a cover letter. In this case, the cover letter shows that you’re interested in that specific company, because your cover letter discusses the very specific relationship with the company you’d like to have, and heads off a potential problem. That shows foresight and it shows that you’re thinking like the hiring manager.

Twelve items to leave off your resume and cover letter

November 4, 2006 Job hunting No comments , ,

You’re working on your resume, trying to give the recipient an idea of what a determined, hard worker you are, and you drop in this sentence.

After my wife and I arrived from Germany at age 35, I trained my son to play piano at our church.

You’re showing that you’re a committed family man with strong roots in your heritage, that you have the skills to raise a child, and you’re active in your church community, right? Wrong. You’re making the person reading the resume very nervous, and probably excluded yourself from a job. That one little sentence covered five bits of information it’s illegal for an interviewer to ask you.

  • Are you married?
  • What country are you from?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you go to church? Which one?

Providing information that is not relevant to the job, or would get me, as a hiring manager, in trouble if I asked for it, makes me very nervous.

The rule to follow is: If the employer can’t ask you, then don’t volunteer it.

I once got a cover letter that started “As a proud black woman, I am…” It immediately went into the discard pile. Not only was it foolish for her to put her gender and race on her resume, because I was not legally allowed to ask it, it made me wonder why would she tell me those things. Could I expect someone with a big chip on her shoulder? If I didn’t hire her, would I get accusations of racism and sexism?

The following items should never be mentioned on your resume or cover letter, or discussed in an interview, even indirectly:

  • Age
  • Sex/gender
  • Disability
  • Race/color
  • National origin, birthplace, ethnic background
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Children/pregnancy

These are the big eight that are just absolute no-nos, and that most people know are illegal. Nobody reading this article is being cast in a movie that needs a 65-year-old wheelchair-bound Jewish man, so none of those are bona fide occupational qualifications, or BFOQs.

Sometimes unscrupulous employers can ask questions that get at this information. For instance, if you answer the question “when did you graduate high school?” with “1984”, he’s found that you’re roughly 39. By extension, you should leave dates of high school off your resume.

Other items that may not be illegal, but may cause problems, include:

  • Appearance, including photo
  • Sexual preference
  • Political affiliations
  • Clubs or groups you belong to, unless professionally related

There may be exceptions in certain cases. For example, my friend Tom Limoncelli is socially and politically active. In 2003-2004, he worked as a sysadmin for the Howard Dean presidential campaign. In this case, working for Dean is valuable work experience that should be noted on his resume, and it directly relates to the work that he’s known for.

Clubs and groups may not be obvious red flags, but are best left alone. To you, it might be cool that you race motorcycles on the weekend, but someone reading your resume might judge you as having a hobby that’s detrimental to the environment, or overly risky. Your weekend volunteer work at Planned Parenthood could be a black mark in the eyes of someone strongly pro-life.

The type of outside work is relevant, too. Handing out literature for an activist group has no place on a resume, but that might not be the case if you overhauled their web site using PHP. It partly depends on what job you’re applying for. You might exclude your Planned Parenthood website work if applying to a Catholic school, but include it when applying to Ben & Jerry’s. This is another example of why there’s no such thing as having “a resume”, a single static document you send around.

In general, follow the rule that if something does not directly relate to your skills, and how you would perform the job in question, leave it out.

You might think “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who would discriminate against me because I fit into group X,” but that’s not the point. The issue isn’t overt discrimination as much as the perception of the possibility of discrimination. I wouldn’t discriminate against a black woman, but I did immediately exclude someone naive or foolish enough to mention being one.

Finally, even if all this verboten information is available on the web with minimal web searching, it’s not OK to put on your resume. The issue is what you present as yourself, not what people can find.

And don’t think employers won’t search Google about you extensively before interviewing. But that’s a topic for another article…

For more information about hiring discrimination, see the EEOC website.