Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Resumes, resumes, resumes

The good folks over at JibberJobber , led by Jason Alba, ran an interesting series of posts last week on resumes. It starts here:

The concept is pretty simple. Take someone's real resume (name changed, of course) and run it by a panel of recruiters and professional resume writers to stimulate conversation around what aspects of your resume lands you that interview. I've posted my own thoughts on this subject previously (albeit specific to engineering resumes) and this set of posts gives an interesting perspective to all sides of the process.

I know when I'm screening for jobs, the first impression can determine whether or not a particular resume goes on the "forget it, kid" stack or not. For me, though, that is tied to other aspects of the resume. The first thing I always notice is the format. How is this person choosing to organize the information they would like me to know about them? What things have they prioritized by putting at the top of the page as opposed to later on? Do they think they have enough experience to justify a second page and do I agree with them (I almost never do, but that's my personal preference). This all says something to me about this person's ability to weigh different factors and arrange information in a concise manner.

Once past that, I agree with Jason that content is king. This is where someone gets to show off their communication skills for the first time. Are the key points of experience sold in a way that makes them sound important, but not exaggerated? Is there variation in the sentence structure, which shows some creativity and thoughtfulness, or is it rinse/repeat with different verbs? Is it clear how long it would take this person to contribute to my team?

That last one is always the bottom line for me. Lots of people will be qualified and you can never tell personality fit from a piece of paper, but what you can often figure out is how much training and hand holding someone will need before they are a productive part of what your team is trying to accomplish. That sort of thing will get a resume to the "screen further" pile that results in an interview.

Jason's series concludes with a wrap up that makes some interesting arguments around using a professional resume writer or not. I'm pretty biased on that one, but if you are really struggling and can find someone who will dig into what message you are trying to get across as opposed to just changing the wording of what you already have it is a possibility to consider.


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 8:42 AM   2 comments


At 3:23 PM, Blogger JibberJobber Guy said...

Pete - this is a great write-up on the series - thank you for sharing it with your readers. I agree with you that you should do your resume before you go to a resume writer - everyone needs to understand what goes into it before they outsourse it!

I believe a good resume writer will take your experience to the next level... and coach you through issues that you may not be aware of.

However, I'm biased on the subject for one simple reason. I did my own resume. I had it reviewed by many folks (even HR, hiring managers, etc.). They all said it looked great. But I wasn't getting any interviews. So I know how a seemingly good resume could ruin a job search :|

Jason Alba

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Pete Johnson said...

The writeup was the easy part when compared to getting all those people together to begin with. It was an interesting look at a crucial part of career advancement that everybody hates. Thanks again for putting it together.



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