Monday, September 8, 2014

Resume Templates

One of the things that I’ve been asked a few times is why don’t I present and give templates for a resume. Most of the reason is that when I show something, cut and paste in the technology business is far too common and I’ll send up with a large group of people using the same resume template and not thinking about how to stand out.

I’m rethinking that a bit, as it’s unlikely that many people will copy something directly, but I’m not sure I want to completely change. However I did see a link in the Brent Ozar newsletter for free resume templates, and I was intrigued. I looked over the list and have a few comments.

Demorfoza Template

I think the Demorfoza design is very clean and easy to read. It breaks things up nicely, but it seems more like an artist’s resume than a technical one. I can’t speak for other industries, but in technology where searching for skills is so prevalent, I don’t want any of my 30 seconds spent reading about skills shown in the upper right.

You might feel differently, especially with less experience. If I were to use this, I’d consider linking (or including a link) with my skills that might go to projects or blog tags that showcase that skill.

Ayoob Ullah Template

This template  is also very esay to read. I might move the “Languages/Skills” to the second page to keep it out of the reviewer’s eye. However the rest of the resume is very nice. Lots of white space, contact information set to the side and a clear space to catch the reviewer’s eye at the top.

Jonny Evans Template

The Jonny Evans template is very appealing to me. I like that the experience is large and centered in the middle. I’d probably be sure that I used this section to highlight projects more than jobs, showcasing skills.

I also like the “Profile” section at the bottom. I’m not sure I’d include a picture, but having a few ways to find out more about me is a good way to control what the reviewer sees. I might also put a summary of education at the bottom and use the “Education” section at the top to emphasize what I want to do.

The one thing I don’t like is the Personal details are a bit large at the top. I might put my name, contact info, and profile link there only.

Fernando Baez Template

This template didn’t do a great job of presenting itself, to me. All of the shots make it hard to read up close and get an idea of what I’d put in there.

That being said, it’s different. It uses graphics to stand out, and I suspect, it would be  challenge to put together. If I were hiring an artist, this would really stand out. For a technical person, I’m not so sure. All the graphs and image would seem to be more fluff and less substance to me.

If the images showcased some software the person had worked on, then I might feel differently, but I didn’t love this one.

Choose Your Own Style

All of these designs are very clean and easy to look at visually. I find them all much better than the standard templates that I’ve seen at so many career fairs and college offices. These stand out, and I would encourage you to choose some design that looks good.

However fill in the details your own way. Choose what you want to include, and that should be the things that showcase why you are a good hire. It’s not that you need to be the best at your chosen profession, but you want to display a high level of competence for the position. Whether that’s a junior or senior level position.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Showcase Your Competence

One of the things I recommend with resumes is that you want to show what you can accomplish. Explain on two pieces of paper, what you can do for the company that is considering interviewing you.

Sell yourself.

That doesn’t mean lie, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to be the guru or expert in your field. It means that you need to show what you can do for this position.

A few examples.

The Junior DBA

I don’t expect a junior DBA to have a lot of experience. However I do want them to have some passion and some talent. I’d expect a junior DBA that wants to work for me to be learning about SQL Server (or whatever platform). Blogs, projects, etc. that show me this person is trying to understand more provide reasons for me to call them.

The same impression comes from seeing them ask questions and interacting with anyone that helps them online. I would especially like to see some professionalism and courtesy.

The resume for a junior person shouldn’t be full of low level jobs. I’d relegate those to one liners, like I would for education. Instead, I’d use my parahraphs to talk about what I’ve learned. What I’ve accomplished so far with databases, even if they are contrived examples or exercises.

Senior DBA

A senior person should have lots of knowledge. I’d expect to see evidence of leading projects, performing tuning, giving me examples of solutions to harder-than-average problems on the resume. Don’t “manage 100 instance”. Tell me you’ve setup monitoring and caught issues before customers knew about them. Give me an example of a DR recovery. Show me something that impresses me in a sentence or two.

However be truthful. I’ll ask you in the interview and perhaps ask for references here.

Show Who You Are

The resume is your first chance to impress me with what you know and what you can do. I’m impressed if you worked at Google or Microsoft, but for most companies, I have no idea if it was a challenging environment, or if you rode the coattails of others. Tell me what things you have really accomplished.

And be prepared to talk about them in an interview.

Also be sure that the stories are true if I call your references or previous employers.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Start Networking Today

I gave a presentation of The Modern Resume at SQL Saturday #304 in Indianapolis recently and one of the attendees noted afterwards that I should have emphasized to people that they need to start networking today, before they need a job.

That’s true, and I agree I need to emphasize that networking, like many of the other tips, are long term efforts. The benefits come from regular attention to building and maintaining your network.

Practical Tips

Talk to 3-5 people at every professional event or gathering. I’d say meet 3 new people and talk to 2 people you’ve met before. The former will grow your network; the latter will maintain it.

It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it works well.

Note that you can use social networking online in addition to in-person networking.


When you need a favor, a job, a recommendation, you’re asking for help from people. You are asking them to perform some work on your behalf.

If someone knows you, and they feel a connection, they’re more likely to respond positively. They are more likely to help. If they’ve just met you, do they feel any obligation?

Think about people that have asked you for favors. If a neighbor comes up to you for the first time and asks you to watch his or her pets for a week, are you willing to help? Some of you might, but many of you might not.

However if a neighbor that you’ve had dinner with, or talked to every week for a year asks you, are you more likely to help? Most people are.

Build a network over time. It’s easy, and isn’t too time consuming, but it does take effort. However, it’s worth it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Being Successful

Warren Buffet had some advice for being successful. I ran across it in this Inc piece, and loved it.

"Never do anything in life if you would be ashamed of seeing it printed on the front page of your hometown newspaper for your friends and family to see."

Fantastic advice. This is what I’d say about how you approach your career, your friendships, and your life.

In your career, treat others well. Be fair, be respectful, and remember your actions reflect on you. Brand yourself accordingly.

Monday, August 11, 2014

30 Seconds

I delivered this talk in the UK, at SQL Bits in Telford last month. As usual, I surveyed the audience to see who hires people and I had relatively few responses. Out of the 50-60 people, only 4-5 raised their hands.

One of them was a lady who hires in the Asian Pacific area, and she said that resumes get 2 seconds for review.

That's it.

She makes a snap judgment and then either reviews them more or tosses them. I suspect she gets far too many resumes that look bad, aren't appropriate for the positions, or something else.

While most people will give you 30-60s to impress them, not many will waste time if your resume doesn't stand out immediately.

That's what this blog, and my talk, are about. Standing out. Here's the image from my deck that I use:

Build a clean resume. Make it visually appealing. Search for examples that are easy to read, and look good from a distance. More is not necessarily better on your resume.
Be concise. Write your descriptions, summaries, etc. in a clear manner that explains what you can do for the employer and why you're a good fit. Include impressive points, but use fewer words where you can. Get the message across quickly and simply.
And include lots of links to other places. That way when the reviewer decides to give you more than that 30 (or 2) seconds, they can easily find more information.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Branding in Indy

I'll be at SQL Saturday #304 in Indianapolis next weekend, Aug 9. I'll be delivering the branding talk early, so hopefully lots of people will get the chance to practice things during the day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Would You Take the Job?

I was helping out in an interview process recently and was surprised by something. There was a group of us interviewing candidates, and we had a set list of questions. Each of us asked a question or two and all of us took notes to discuss afterwards. However at the end of each interview, the coordinating interviewer asked each person this question:

If you were offered the job, would you accept?

During one of the discussions, I noted that I thought this was a waste of a question. Certainly everyone would answer "yes" immediately. After all, I have when I've been asked the question.

However the coordinator said that he'd asked this question many times and learned a few things about people. They may hesitate, they may invoke conditions, they may not say yes.

Needless to say I was stunned until I read something similar in the Ask the Headhunter newsletter. One of the questions he answered was on telling the interviewer you want the job, which is very similar.

You should learn to say "I'm interested in the job" if you at all are at the end of the interview. This doesn't bind you, and circumstances may change. Perhaps the offer will be low, perhaps you'll get another offer. You don't know, but at the time, express interest. If someone asks you if you still want the job after the interview, say yes unless you are sure you do not.

There are times you don't want the job, but otherwise, just learn to say "yes, I want the job."