Monday, May 28, 2012

Resumes - Organization and Structure

A few interesting points from a couple people I talked to  recently. This is some advice that I’m not sure about, but it makes some sense. I won’t go as far as recommending it for now, but I will pass it on. I am trying to talk to a few more hiring managers and recruiters to see how they see the market going.

Replace Objective with Summary

Don’t use an objective. They all look the same. Instead write a short, one paragraph summary of who you are. What stands out about you? This is essentially your elevator, 30 sec pitch about what skills and talents you have. Give the reader three reasons to keep going.

Use Bullet Points

I’m torn on this, but essentially long paragraphs about your projects or experiences are hard to read. Use shorter bullet points, but convey the highlights about your accomplishments or the things that stand out about your career.

Don’t use “We”

Too often people write that a team did something, or we finished a project. The person looking to hire someone doesn’t care about your team; they want to know what you contributed. Don’t lie, but talk about the things you did that contributed to the project. Your contributions to a small, insignificant project are more important than impressing someone with a large project you barely worked on.

Don’t use We, or the Team. Use “I did such and such.”

The 30 sec Rule Applies

People still gets lots of resumes, so try and make yours interesting from the beginning. Give the reader a summary of your skills, and perhaps a summary of a couple things you are proud of on your resume so they are willing to come back and read more, or pass it along to the next person making a decision.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta

I delivered the Branding Yourself for a Dream Job presentation last Saturday, May 19, in Denver.

If you are looking for the slide deck, it’s here.

Branding Yourself for a Dream Job.PPT

Resumes and Keywords

After delivering my modern resume talk on branding, I sat in on a couple other professional development presentations. One was from a recruiter, and I heard a few interesting things.

Keywords matter.

They don’t need to be at the top, but they do need to be in your resume. The HR people, and some recruiters play the Highlighter Game, talked about below. The higher your score, the more likely they’ll pass along your resume.

My advice still stands. Keep keywords on the resume, but move them to the end. Get the person that reads your resume something interesting to read at the top.

In terms of formatting, break those keywords up. Use categories and organize your skills. Here’s a quick look at what I’d do on my resume:

Databases: SQL Server 2012/2008 R2/2008/2005/2000/7/6.5/4.2

Languages: T-SQL, HTML, Powershell, C#.NET, VB.NET, XML, C, Perl

OS: Windows 2008, Windows 2003, Windows 7, Windows XP

I might not include the OS part, but the categories should be listed in large general ones that the non-technical person can understand (for the Highlighter Game).

The skills should be listed in order of strength, strongest to weakest. Or in order of the things that you want to do to things you don’t want to work on.

The Highlighter Game

Take a job listing and set it next to a resume.

Grab a highlighter.

As you read through the resume, highlight any keyword that is in the job listing.

Add up the score at the bottom of the resume.

Sort the resumes by score.

Not a great method, but unfortunately what recruiters have seen HR people use as a way to filter down resumes. Usually many of the resumes that meet some minimal bar as then reviewed again.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


As long as we have people with this attitude, we are going places:

"If you hustle – all out, fully hustle – and you succeed, then you gain the satisfaction of a job well done. If you hustle and fail, you never have to worry about what might have been if you’d given everything.

If you slack off, you might get lucky and still succeed, but there’s little satisfaction other than the temporary thrill of escaping with your life. If you slack off and fail, you have to live forever with not knowing what you were truly capable of."

From Todd Henry

Monday, May 7, 2012

Networking Games

At an event a few weeks ago, the organizer decided to try and build a little networking in a group. We were at dinner, with 7 or 8 tables of 4-6 people each. Those are manageable groups, and I had the chance to meet people I was sitting with, but as is the case with many events, it's harder to get to know other people.

Not leaving people to their own devices, the organizer had each person stand up in front of the group, give a two sentence bio about where we were from and our function at the event, and then tell us three things about themselves. The kicker: one of the things was a lie and the rest of us were supposed to guess which one.

It started slow, but people started to get interested, and there were some very cool facts and lies being told by the various people.

That won't work everywhere, but it would have been easy to get groups of 5-10 people to play the game, and tell something about themselves. In a more professional setting, you could limit the things to truths or lies about your job or career.

The idea of a game is often unappealing to many people, but once you get them started, they usually enjoy it. At your next event, consider doing some sort of short game that might get people to network and introduce themselves, and build a little bit of a bond among themselves.