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Resume Goodness and Failures

2011 June 3
by Shannon Lowder

Over the past few weeks I’ve helped out with the hiring process at my current employer.  We’ve decided to bring a new person on to help with some programming duties.  During this process I’ve gotten to look at more than a few resumes.  I’ve seen plenty in the past, and even had the chance to work with recruiters and resume writers on how to improve resumes.  But this is my first time on the hiring end.

There have been some good ones.

The ones I’d consider good ones were called in for interviews.  There are a few things these resumes had in common.  I’d like to share the traits the good resumes shared.

  1. They not only listed what skills the candidate had, but they listed them in context.  Having a table at the top of your resume that lists every technology under the sun may look impressive visually.  But it didn’t tell us how familiar with the technology the candidate is.  It didn’t express how he or she used the technology in their daily job. 
  2. The good resumes sold the individual.  They expressed how they used technology to further business goals.  Those resumes who showed that the candidate used the skills to cut costs or build a new product that made money set the candidate apart from the others.  It illustrated how the candidate uses technology as  a means to and end, not an end unto itself.
  3. The best resumes were concise.  They got the skills, experience, and application of those skills in the quickest way.  While I‘ve said the two-page resume is dead, hiring managers want to get an idea of what you bring to the table as quickly as possible.

While these are just three things the good ones have, they’re the top three features of a resume that got the candidate and interview.

There were some bad ones.

  1. Listing your skills is useful, so long as the technology is applicable.  Don’t tell me what laptop you used to connect to the SQL Server.  Don’t tell me what protocol you used to connect to an FTP Server. Only list the skills that will be applicable to the job you’re applying for.  This is where tailoring your resume comes into play.  It’s fine to list every technology you’ve used on your linked in profile.  Trim it down before submitting to a specific job.
  2. Again, while I do say the two-page resume is dead, don’t spend 5 pages telling me about your past three years experience.  Trust me, the skills repeat over and over.  Pick the best use of a technology, and tell me about that.  Keep is brief and punchy. 
  3. In the same vein as the first point, if you’ve moved from one career to another.  Just tell me about the experience relevant to the job you’re applying for.  It’s awesome you were an educator!  I’d like to teach more than I do today, but if you’re applying for a mid-career programmer, and we didn’t ask for any teaching skills, we don’t need to see them on the resume.

Overall what I’ve seen leads me to believe I should talk more about how to perfect your resume.  That way you can succeed more, by getting more interviews.  I plan to spend more time on resume skills during my Friday posts.  That way I can help you all improve your skill at writing, and using your resume to do it’s job, so you can do yours.

If you have any questions, send them in.  I’m here to help!

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