No one needs me to tell them the importance of the resume for getting your foot in the door, or the stats on how insanely small the fraction of a second is you have to intrigue before you go to a stack of paper to be filed and never seen again. What I will tell you instead is how I stopped myself from continuously entering that stack. Your resume is good for little else than getting an initial phone call. It takes personality from there. However you’ll never get to display that winning smile or sexy phone voice if you don’t intrigue in the first place.
The last five years of my career have been bouncing in and out of management. Or more like getting put into management, then leaving to be a regular developer, then getting placed back in management, and so on. When I found myself in an emergency situation of needing to find a job, I felt as though I had to play both fields. While I always sought to escape management, I wasn’t about to pass up a management position to be unemployed. Maintaining two specialized resumes, while recommended by many, just feels too cumbersome. I had always taken the approach dumping my insane variety of positions on my resume, and it took me quite a while to see how it hurt more than help. I can give you a literal statistic of 100% of people who I did talk to about a non management position said something along the lines of, “this position is not management – will you be happy? Do you think you can do that? Would you just eventually leave us when a management position opens elsewhere?” If you ever hear a concern at more than one interview, consider the strong possibility that others have asked the same question – only to themselves, and they answered it for you by not making the call. Address these questions on your resume immediately.
It wasn’t until in the middle of my search, I had a recruiter call me who changed my job searching life. She was crass, had a Jersey accent, and told me my resume “sucks.” She felt so strongly about it and ranted so much, I (half) jokingly asked her if she only called me to tell me how much she hated my resume. She intrigued me though, as her insults all had backing behind them. I listened and asked questions every time I could get a breath in.
What I learned is this: employers are impatient. They know buzz words, and they want to see them without surrounding junk. If you’re shooting for a development position, then talk development. List your technical skills and awesome job titles. If you were a CTO, so what? They likely haven’t heard of your company, and will assume it was small. Talk about what technologies and tools you used.. Do not water it down with your “strong leadership skills” or “ability to work independently.” Also do not do what I did and just include everything, thinking they’ll see the the appropriate parts to what they are looking for. They won’t. I took my resume and cut out ALL fluff. I went 100% technical and practical. Even as my time as a Director of Operations only outlined my technical skills, and eliminated all “day to day management of X employees” type statements.
After I made these changes, I emailed it to the same recruiter asking for further advice, and she called me within minutes. She absolutely loved it, and after the previous call I took it for a potential win. Next I took the time to update on each job site, and even email some places I had previously applied, asking them to update what they have on file. The results were immediate. I went from a call or an email every few days, to 5-7 daily for weeks. Places I had applied to with my old resume and never heard back from were finding my new resume on search engines and calling me on their own. I really didn’t change much content as much as I took the unwanted content out.
Here’s an example of my old first page and my new first page side by side:
No more summary other than a list of skills. You can open this resume and see what I’m about without reading my PR style paragraph. Even my bigger job titles were cleaned up. Director of Operations took on this change:
The rest of my listed previous positions followed suit. Say what you mean, and don’t leave anything up to interpretation. If they want to know you’re a good manager, then dazzle them with your winning personality once they give you a call. First they need your resume to tell them that you have experience in the appropriate skill sets. After that, your resume is fairly forgotten once you walk in the door. Make changes based on common feedback, and when you see little short term result, don’t get discouraged. Always remember that when browsing job listings, some get pretty exciting. You send your resume, put a lot of potential emotion toward it, and continue to wonder for days if they’ll call. Conversely when they receive your resume, it is one of a hundred, and you are looked at as a piece of paper. They do not know or share the emotion you held on submission. You may every day hope for a reply, while they see it fine to get to it in a couple weeks when they’re less busy.
Tags.NET AJAX Best Practices clown shoe loser design development email fanatics Graceful Degradation IDE interviews JSON lame rant linux MVC MySQL Notepad OOP pdo PHP privacy process programming recruiters selling source SOA sql that guy things I never thought I’d have to deal with trust ubuntu validation walking up hill both ways WCF wrong rbrooks XML xslt