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Author Topic: IT Resumes  (Read 3247 times)

Stoic Joker

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IT Resumes
« on: August 21, 2014, 03:23:42 PM »
    So it's occurred to me as we're looking for a new body here in IT, that apparently they don't teach people how to do a resume properly in schools these days. And it seems that most people are going with the best friends interpretation of marketing tactics advice of doing as much embellishing as possible ... Which more often than not backfires horribly during the interview when the applicant goes blank after getting hit with a probing question regarding listed skillset 'X'.

    With that thought in mind - given the large cross section of talent we have here - I thought it might be nice to get a discussion started about what to and not to do when creating a resume for an IT position. I'll start by listing some of the don't I've encountered in the past few weeks:

Don't put things you are interested in learning in a list of existing skills.
Don't put certifications you are planning to get under existing skills.
Don't leave large unexplained - multi year... - gaps in you work history.
Don't get wordy trying to make limited experience sound like more than it is (Especially for an entry level position - which this is).


And on the other/do side:
Do keep in mind that the first person to see your resume is unlikely to be the guy that is in charge of IT, so lighten up on the technical jargon and just be friendly, concise, and professional (especially in the cover letter). If you come across as cocky, aloof, or arrogant...the rest of your resume won't matter.

Do research the company to find out what they do so your resume can be tailored to their needs.

Do list other skills (in short) that you have in your background that could be relevant to what the company does. Any idiot can clamp an end on an Ethernet cable, but if you have a background in construction...there's a good chance you can also handle the hard part which is to get the cable across a building and then down through a wall ... Without damaging the building. If the company systems control machinery, an mechanical background might be nice to mention (assuming you actually have one).

Anyhow, I'm running out of time. But I wanted to see what other folks thought about what makes a good IT resume.

40hz

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2014, 06:04:39 PM »
Do research the company to find out what they do so your resume can be tailored to their needs.

This. This. This. :Thmbsup:

I haven't once sat in on an interview where somebody didn't ask a question or two to determine if the applicant had at least some clue about who the company is and what it does. Most management types (who usually have the final say when it comes to making a hire) find it insulting (to say the least) when someone walks in the door looking for a position and knows absolutely nothing about the company.

So do some research. With Google there's no longer any excuse for not taking the time to find who you want to work for.

That and don't lie. Especially about degrees earned, certifications held, schools attended, or companies worked for. These can all be easily checked  - and nowadays they often will be. Even if they don't catch it prior to hiring you, it's an unexploded bomb waiting to go off. Most companies have very strict policies about falsifying information on an application or during an interview. Most places make it grounds for immediate dismissal if/when discovered.

The first Fortune 500 I worked for had such a policy. I sat down the hall from a 7+ year veteran employee who was well respected and very good at what he did. Things were going swimmingly for him until top management started considering him (without his knowledge) for a major promotion to a deputy director position. Background checks were the norm for such positions because directors were responsible for overseeing contracts.

That's when they discovered he didn't have the MBA he said he had. While he had attended management grad school, he never finished his degree. He had only completed about a year before quitting.

He was out the door that same day.

Lesson: When it comes to your job: Don't lie. About anything. Ever. :tellme:
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 04:42:57 AM by 40hz »

Stephen66515

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 04:34:59 PM »
Personally, every Resume/CV I send out is tailored to that industry, which means I can also make sure that I only include jobs relevant to that sector on it. 

In regards to leaving gaps in work history...I actually just lie there...I have no intention of asking those companies for references so I simply extend the dates a little bit so they don't look like I was working for X months, then unemployed for X months :P

app103

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2014, 06:53:46 AM »
Personally, every Resume/CV I send out is tailored to that industry, which means I can also make sure that I only include jobs relevant to that sector on it. 

Sometimes unrelated jobs in a different sector can demonstrate skills that would be valued in the sector you are applying for a job in.

For example, I was once a courier dispatcher (transportation industry). That doesn't seem all that related, if I were applying for a job in the banking industry, until you see the skills listed beneath it and see that I was required to demonstrate a fair amount of accounting skills.

So, my advice isn't to alter your employment history, but to list the skills beneath each job, that are relevant to the job to which you are applying.

If I were applying for an accounts receivable/payable job, they probably wouldn't care about my map reading skills from that courier job, but they would be interested in the daily AR/AP duties that job required. So, I would leave out the maps and list AR/AP.

And if I were applying for a job where I would be required to manage people, I would list how I supervised a team of about 150 drivers.

Every job requires a variety of skills, and it's those individual skills that are important (not the job title or sector), and nearly every job has at least 1 skill that will be relevant to whatever you are applying for. Sometimes it just requires a bit of thinking to see it, so you can list it.

Stoic Joker

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 07:17:35 AM »
^This!! And as an example, the comment I made in the first post about construction experience was based on one of the interviews, and a high percentage of why the applicant that was selected, was selected. They hadn't put it on their resume...but it came out during the interview. And since I've run into several situations where an understanding of how a building was constructed had a direct impact on the requirements for a solution ... This definitely peeked my interest.

40hz

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2014, 08:01:50 AM »
Every job requires a variety of skills, and it's those individual skills that are important (not the job title or sector), and nearly every job has at least 1 skill that will be relevant to whatever you are applying for. Sometimes it just requires a bit of thinking to see it, so you can list it.

Agree.

But...

It's not so much a thing an applicant can do - but certainly something a potential employer should do - is to remember the advice given by Paul Hawkins in his book Growing a Business: Hire the person, not the position.

Unfortunately, in an era of HR departments and 'pre-screening' forms with checkboxes, if you don't have enough exact hits on a laundry list, you'll often never make it to that F2F interview where you can (hopefully) shine.

I went in for an interview ages ago where I was asked if I had any direct Sun experience. I was familiar with it as far as the name and general specs went. And I had played with a SPARC station - once. So I said "no, but" I was very experience with IBM, Novell, and (the then spankin' new) Windows NT Server network environments. And that I also had enterprise level VAX and Unix experience - so picking up another network/OS shouldn't be a problem.

The HR person frowned and stared at her form and said "I don't have a box for any of those..." Then she smiled (I had been laying on the charm big time up till then) and said "Well...why don't I just check it off as yes anyway, and if it comes up in the interview, you can explain it to them!"

Turned out this company was migrating off Sun and was looking for migration specialists. Of which there were a fair number applying. Or so they said. (Yeah, sure! ::)) However, what they didn't have (yet) was anybody who really knew NT server. So I didn't get the job I went to interview for. Instead, I got a different job with them. As their NT server "goto" guy.

But I never would have gotten to interview at all if the HR person hadn't checked the box for "recent experience with Sun Microsystems environment." And that's always going to be a problem whenever non-tech screeners (HR) sit between a candidate and the interview panel for a technical position.

In this economy candidates have to be pre-screened if you don't want to interview 200 people every time there's a job opening. And people with sufficient tech experience to read between the lines are usually far too busy with their own work to be handed a list of 50 interviewees to attend to. But with a poor screening process you risk throwing out the gold along with the sand when you're panning for the "good help."

I don't have a good across the board suggestion for how to fix that.

Of course there's always this to contend with if you're a job applicant:

this
yeahbut.jpg

« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 02:59:04 PM by 40hz »

app103

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2014, 07:38:57 PM »
Unfortunately, in an era of HR departments and 'pre-screening' forms with checkboxes, if you don't have enough exact hits on a laundry list, you'll often never make it to that F2F interview where you can (hopefully) shine.

I believe it was a single keyword search (Zendesk) on oDesk which got me invited to interview with Sitepoint/Learnable, and it was everything I have ever done, which got me hired, much of which was not in any of my employment history. All that extra stuff I did for fun, while unemployed, made me a perfect fit for the job, more perfect than someone else with a lot more job experience. I didn't just shine in the interview, I glowed and showered sparks. I believe I may have been the first and last person interviewed for the position.

I got really lucky when a job, that seemed like it was made just for me, accidentally landed in my lap (I didn't apply for the job, they contacted me, first). Results like this would be hard to duplicate, either by myself or by any company with a position to fill, especially if they use a short checklist of keywords for their pre-screening.

40hz

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 07:00:46 AM »
Results like this would be hard to duplicate, either by myself or by any company with a position to fill, especially if they use a short checklist of keywords for their pre-screening.

Or a single keyword in your case? ;D

But either way,  congratulations once again. You deserved a break. And they got a very fine asset. :Thmbsup:

Stephen66515

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2014, 12:04:29 AM »
One thing should be noted here:

Never lie about qualifications.

A friend of mine is a Manager at a local company, and recently we have been discussing one of his members of staff (For some reason, my opinion is of a meaningful nature to him when it comes to anything 'managerial'...not sure why but hey ho!)...After careful review of his employment documents (Which I have already been authorized to view by the owner of the company for the reasons already mentioned) I spotted that the member of staff in question has put a Masters Degree in a certain topic...now...not being relevant to the job he is doing, this got left unchecked.  I have met the person in question...and I can tell you right here and now, they with that one interaction with him...I know for a fact that he did not have said qualification...but obviously these things needed to be verified...anyhow...long story short...I was right...now they are just deciding what to do and if it will affect the persons employment or not.

Innuendo

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2014, 10:06:48 AM »
You have seven seconds.

More on this in a bit, but let's start at the beginning, shall we? When you spot a position you are wanting to apply for, don't send in the stock, default version of your resume. If you do, your resume will never make it through the gauntlet and reach the person who can make this a happy ending for you.

Someone mentioned that you shouldn't load up your resume with jargon because the people in HR won't understand the terminology. There's an element of truth to this, but there's a certain amount of jargon that must be present or, again, the running of the gauntlet will be a failure. Allow me to explain why. The job market has changed drastically in the last few years, at least in the United States. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people will apply for each position.

In order to help separate the applicants who are worthy of further attention from the time-wasters who apply for every job they see, a lot of companies are implementing automation. This means that quite often the first person to see your resume isn't a person at all. It's a computer program designed to parse the resumes of all the applicants, retain the ones that reach a certain percentage threshold of hitting on all the key phrases and jargon that someone somewhere has decided that will show if a candidate is worthy or unworthy. Please, please, please be acutely aware that it does not matter how awesome you are, how perfect you are for the job, and that your resume and cover letter are literary works that would make Shakespeare himself break down and weep. No human eye sees your submission at this point.  If your resume does not meet the minimum requirements of jargon and key phrases at this point, your hard work will be quietly jettisoned into the black hole of the internet with no notification sent to you or the employer. It will simply be as though you had not applied for the position at all. Period.

Now before you freak out and start scrambling around screaming questions like what key phrases? What jargon? Do they expect me to be psychic? Just take a deep breath and relax. The company has already given you a blueprint to succeed. The job posting is more than just a description of duties. It's a road map to what this company is looking for. It will list all the key phrases and jargon you'll need to get past the automated slice-and-dice designed to keep the unworthy from stepping foot inside the corporate building.

While we're on the subject of the automated routines, often a job posting will include a line that says that applications are accepted until a certain date. Do *not* let that lure you into a false sense of non-urgency. Oh, sure, you can happily submit your resume up till the very last day if you wish, but do you remember those thousands of people applying for this position I mentioned earlier? A lot of companies help the weeding out process along by programming the system to only accept x amount of submissions. Any submissions received beyond that number....quietly jettisoned.

Now, say you managed to make it past the slice-and-dice. What happens next? This is when the submissions that are left actually reach a human and land in the hiring manager's in-bin. They view submissions with a program that uses that aforementioned list of key phrases and jargon to highlight everywhere they appear in the resume so they can examine the syntax and the context of the words.

This is where you have seven seconds. Hiring managers will spend seven seconds or less looking over your resume before deciding if it should be sent along to the next step in the hiring process or thrown out. If you just took all those words and threw them in a list to rack up a high percentile score in the automated phase, you're most likely out. If your words are dry and uninspired...mundane...you're most likely out.

Unless you are a rock star in your chosen profession and your job descriptions and job titles make hearts quiver and stir up feelings of envy, you're probably going to need to use those sections of your resume that go beyond job experience to catch the hiring manager's eye. Academic excellence, unique volunteer/charity work, unique life experiences are all ways to nudge the hiring manager to break the rules and spend an extra couple seconds on the awesomeness that is your resume. Remain truthful at all times, but if there's something exceptional about you then you need to mention it without being too boisterous about it.

Again, unless you are a rock star in your chosen profession, chances are good there are going to be a hundred people with job experience exactly like yours, maybe better. You need to convey that your benefits to the organization go beyond hard skills and you bring competent soft skills to the table as well, the total package. The name of the game at this point is to convince the hiring manager to put your resume into the pile that will be forwarded to the department head.

If you've done all this and managed to get in front of the department head's eyes as long as you've put your job skills forward in an honest and competent fashion, there's not much you can do beyond that. They usually know what they are looking for when they sit down to hire someone, but...you never know. Maybe if you aren't exactly what they are looking for, those mentions of academic excellence or other things might be enough to catch their eye & they'll take a chance on calling you in for an interview anyway.

P.S. Follow Miles' advice to the letter. With the advances in technology, the time when someone could fabricate credentials and get away with it has passed.

MilesAhead

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2014, 11:14:49 AM »
Hmmm, instead of Unemployment Insurance, if we had a real Department of Labor, a person should be able to make a living by looking for a job.

As it is now one can: send in the resume; take the phone interview; set up a face to face and drive down to East of Eden somewhere for the interview, when the brother in law was selected before the job was even posted.  Being part of the "Nation-wide Search" to make it not look like nepotism is not fun.

Companies may be less likely to abuse applicants in this fashion if they had to compensate the applicant.  For example, offset travel expenses, lunch, and a per diem.
This way if one could schedule an interview or two a day during the week one may be able to tread water staying current with rent/utilities etc. during the period of unemployment.

As it is now the HR guy and other management at the prospective employer are all getting paid while the sincere schmuck briefcase in hand, schleps out to the interview at his own expense.  There is zero incentive not to abuse people under this system

If it cost the employer a few hundred dollars to pretend to interview someone they may actually listen during the process.

Innuendo

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2014, 10:22:39 AM »
If it cost the employer a few hundred dollars to pretend to interview someone they may actually listen during the process.

Unfortunately, I suspect that if it actually cost an employer to interview someone they would simply stop interviewing or at the very least cut down the amount of people they interviewed for a position. I imagine they'd go through all the resumes with a fine-toothed comb, pick the two or three resumes that stood out, and then interview those lucky few for the job. This would mean that job prospects who don't look as good on paper as they come across in real life would then be at a horrible disadvantage.

The jerks who embellish and lie on their resumes would be getting all the interview calls....till the cat was out of the bag. Then everyone would start embellishing and lying on their resumes. None of us want to see what kind of forum post that scenario would illicit out of Stoic Joker. :)

MilesAhead

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Re: IT Resumes
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2014, 10:39:20 AM »
Quote
The jerks who embellish and lie on their resumes would be getting all the interview calls....till the cat was out of the bag. Then everyone would start embellishing and lying on their resumes.


Isn't that what they teach in sales?  Say anything to get your foot in the door?  To me the abuse is that the entire process is a sham.  I was watching the PBS station that covers the Massachusetts House and Senate proceedings daily.  Before bringing the session to order Senate President Billy Bulger yells to one of the Senators "Hey!  Don't you have a son who needs a job?  My daughter needs a job but due to ethics rules she can't work on my staff.  So you hire her and I'll hire your son."  Then another Senator yells out "But first we'll have a Nationwide Search(tm)!"  That brought the house down, pardon the pun.