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Writing a Good Technical Resume?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the skills-to-know dept.


SuperMallen asks: "As a newly minted hiring manager, I've spent the last few weeks plowing through the large pile of resumes for one of my open positions. The varying formatting and quality of the resumes has stunned me. People do everything from a short list of jobs and positions to essays on each and every project they ever thought about in a job. Everyone seems to subscribe to the 'here's a giant pile of technologies I'm familiar with at the top' school, but I usually ignore this and go straight for their past work history and glean from there. Surely the Slashdot community can help point out what makes for good formatting and content in a technical resume. I'd love to also see some good sample resumes people have used in the past, and any good websites or book recommendations on how to write these effectively, so we can all spend less time reading and writing bad ones."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434349)

I'm having trouble wrting my resume too...I'd like to include how many fp's I've gotten on Slashdot!

Hmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434387)

Write "Karma on /.: karma_value"

Re:Hmm (1)

ditto999999999999999 (546129) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434457)

I would find that attractive.

Re:Hmm (3, Funny)

hdparm (575302) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434667)

Heh. I actually did this. Response was mixed - from complete ignorance (recruitment agents) to positive surprise by some (tech) hiring people. I fell of a chair when one email reply started with:

Hi, Karma Whore :-)

I know your pain. (4, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434399)

I've had occasion to read through stacks of Curriculum Vitea (I'm English) in my job. It's truly a soul destroying task. I don't have any links to samples but experience has taught me one universal truth: Long lists of skills mean nothing. People put everything they've ever heard of. It comes to the interview and it goes along the lines of "You know Perl well? No, but I walked past the Camel book in a library once.". If there isn't any mention of using the skill then the chances are the candidate hasn't ever used it professionally. I've updated my CV to put jobs and key projects with a description of the skills used in each first now.

Re:I know your pain. (3, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434473)

I've had occasion to read through stacks of Curriculum Vitea (I'm English)
Then lern to spel propper. It's "vitae".
Long lists of skills mean nothing
You know that. I know that. The candidates know that. Unfortunately the droid at the employment agency doesn't. They are given a list of buzzwords to match and a pile of CV's. Any CV's that match the buzzwords get their addresses tippexed out and are faxed through to you. Daft, innit?


Re:I know your pain. (2, Informative)

cperciva (102828) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434489)

I've had occasion to read through stacks of Curriculum Vitea (I'm English)
Then lern to spel propper. It's "vitae".

Also, it's "Curricula Vitae", not "Curriculum Vitae", unless he was reading a CV which arrived in multiple volumes.

Re:I know your pain. (2, Informative)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434551)

Oh, very nice. "+1 - Well aimed pedantry" ... or is that the thing involving sheep and Wellingtons?


Re:I know your pain. (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437165)

Oh, very nice. "+1 - Well aimed pedantry" ... or is that the thing involving sheep and Wellingtons?

Heh, cute! Wish I had mod points to give you a +1 Funny. :)

Re:I know your pain. (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434695)

Well, he said "English" - word in question is Latin. Just a typo, probably. As to the buzzwords problem - I don't think that's as bad as it used to be. Employers have finally figured that this was such a huge waste of everybody's time. At least in NZ, major job site mostly contains straight forward job ads, with clearly listed requirements.

Re:I know your pain. (2, Informative)

MattBurke (58682) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435161)

Indeed. I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to do one-off CVs for agencies with stupid stuff anyone familiar with the work would take for granted like "pc hardware" and "vi" listed in the huge list of acronyms at the top (there only for the sake of matching on agencies searches).

The worst thing about dealing with agencies is their tendancy to treat skills as objects - 'you've "got" linux and bind but you haven't "got" vi so I won't put you forward for this role' - ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

Re:I know your pain. (2, Insightful)

Mouse42 (765369) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436311)

Long lists of skills mean nothing
You know that. I know that. The candidates know that. Unfortunately the droid at the employment agency doesn't. They are given a list of buzzwords to match and a pile of CV's. Any CV's that match the buzzwords get their addresses tippexed out and are faxed through to you. Daft, innit?

Yes, very true. Due to this, I usually modify my resume for each job. I first evaluate the company, and try to surmise who will be reading my resume, and then modify it to fit.

If I'm being hired/interviewed by someone who has barely a grasp on what I'd be doing, I dumb it down a lot, and focus more on end accomplishments and buzzwords. If I'm being hired/interviewed by someone who could do my job if they had the time, then I gear it as if I'm talking to a peer, and focus more on process and techniques.

Re:I know your pain. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#16441283)

It's nice to be able to do this, but it gets old after you've done that for the 300th time without much in the way of results.

I have a somewhat lengthy list of skills on my somewhat dated resume (I really should update it), but I don't put anything on there that I don't know relatively well, and I've had the strangest items on that list result in promising job interviews.

Re:I know your pain. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438315)

Perhaps there should be two sets of listings on the resumé, titled "Buzzwords" and "Skills I Actually Have."

CPAN is the only resume you need for Perl (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434547)

I write Perl, and I work writing Perl.

And ever since I got to about 4 or 5 CPAN modules released, I haven't needed a resume at all since.

Generally it's just enough to say "My CPAN id is $foo".

It also works in reverse as well, in situations where I've been hiring or interviewing Perl people, my first question tends to be "Do you have a CPAN id?".

If so, you can immediately go see what standard they work to when they expect their peers to read their code.

If not, they general apologize or mumble something about always meaning to, and we go into why not. Often it's valid reasons, and all is fine.

If they don't know what a CPAN id is, well then they almost certainly aren't getting the job :)

Re:CPAN is the only resume you need for Perl (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436301)

That was a bit like interviewing the Sybase "expert" with four years Sybase experience (provided by an agent, of course) who mumbled something about tempdb when I asked him to describe a couple of system tables. The interview ended in a "we call you, don't call us", of course.

Depending on the job and the application you must not necessarily be the product wizard, but if your resumee states four years of Sybase experience you better heard about sysobjects, sysdatabases and another couple of systems tables and are able to describe their functionality.

What I was looking for was consistency within the resumee and with what the applicant claims to be. Everybody can learn and I met damn good applicants who weren't quite an expert on the product yet. But if somebody claims that he has four years experience, he better makes sure that he can back them up in the technical interview.

Re:CPAN is the only resume you need for Perl (1)

Mouse42 (765369) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436413)

And ever since I got to about 4 or 5 CPAN modules released, I haven't needed a resume at all since.

{sigh} I wish it was like that all the time. I figure my work speaks for itself, right? I am a web designer, and I thought the quality, quantity, dates, and clientbase should successfully demonstrate my skills, so my resume gives a list and explaination of my knowledgebase, along with a list of website links and notable description for each.

Invariably, I am asked for my previous employers. Eh? Look at the websites, my previous employers are right there.

Re:CPAN is the only resume you need for Perl (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436711)

If they don't know what a CPAN id is, well then they almost certainly aren't getting the job :)

I have no idea what a CPAN id is. I'm guessing from context that it's what you use if you're submitting a module to CPAN.

I've also spent countless hours over the last several years using Perl to write the kind of automation scripts it was designed for, countless more using it as a CGI back-end to link web sites with databases, and obviously a fair amount of time looking up and using CPAN modules in relation to both.

Does this mean I shouldn't be hired for a job that requires Perl, then?

Re:CPAN is the only resume you need for Perl (1)

DrZaius (6588) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437227)

A CPAN id is your username for uploading stuff onto CPAN.

I would say it depends on the level and expectations of the job. As a senior perl programmer, I probably wouldn't hire you because you're not involved in the culture of perl. You do know what CPAN is and were able to take a decent guess on what a CPAN id is, so I probably would hire you.

Writing bad Perl code is the job security you need (2)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438211)

Every Perl programmer knows the way to job security is to write piles of horrible undecipherable code, so your current employer will be afraid to fire you because they can't find anyone to take over the mess. The only reason anyone hires new Perl programmers any more these days, is to take over the horrible mess left by their previous Perl programmer who got hit by a bus. Anyone hiring Perl programmers to write new code is crazy.


Re:Writing bad Perl code is the job security you n (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 8 years ago | (#16439281)

Hahaha, mod parent funny!

That list of skills is why you see the resume (2, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435155)

Most recruiters, job engines, etc wouldn't even forward you the resume if it didn't match certain keywords. So people that want to get their resume in front of someone have to put every conceivable keyword on there, in the hopes that their resume will at least get to some decisionmaker. You can safely ignore that list, it's an unfortunate consequence of trying to get hired in today's market. A classically formatted resume will never get past the computer filters.

Yep, the skills list is for databases (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436547)

The parent is spot on. In today's recruitment business, there may be as many as three filters before you even get to the guys who are technically knowledgeable: a recruitment agency/job board if you use one, the HR database at the company you're applying for, and the HR weenie who's pulling out things that pass their automated filters to pass to the technical guys. Exactly none of these steps is likely to involve anyone technically competent who understands what the buzzwords and abbreviations mean. Java is the same as Javascript, right? But there's no way someone with five years' experience working with Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl is going to be of any use doing a job that uses PostgreSQL and PHP.

Of course the skills list is of limited value to the technical reviewers/interviewers. In fact, it's of no value at all unless the candidate has attached some sort of meaningful experience/skill level indicators to each entry. But to get that far with most large organisations or if agencies are involved, you've got to play the database game. That's yet another reason I prefer working for smaller companies, where the CVs that aren't obvious recycling fodder generally go straight to the technical guys who are doing the interviews.

Get the resumé to the hiring manager (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16437291)

That's the biggest part of it, in my opinion. My general approach has been to tailor my resumé to the people who will make the final decision, rather than the people who do the initial filtering. As a result, when it does get to the hiring manager, what they see is an accurate and concise description of my qualifications and abilities.

As a result of that, I've generally gotten very little response from companies that have to go through significant filters in HR, but excellent responses the other way - the hiring managers who see it know much more about me before the first interview. Ultimately that saves them time if I'm not right for the job, and it gives them a lot more confidence once they've gotten to 'should we hire him?'

On the other side of things, I just did a quick pass of resumés I've seen lately, and I can see two clear trends in them. One is "gotta pass the filter" and one is "I'm good: hire me." The former may indeed pass HR filters, but it leaves us scratching our heads. "Wait, what is this guy good at?" We generally don't see enough in them to pursue it any further. The latter are more helpful, and we're much more likely to interview their authors.

Re:That list of skills is why you see the resume (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 8 years ago | (#16439793)

yep, when i started looking for my last job, i noticed i wasn't getting many calls at all. i decided to rewrite it with name brands of the technology i worked with instead, and the calls started coming in.

the funniest though was the question "how's your TCP/IP?"

Re:I know your pain. (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435209)

One of the main things I look for in a technical CV is evidence of technical work *outside* of the office. I've found that someone more junior but who plays with techhnology as a hobby will be significantly more performant than someone who is apparently more experienced but only does it as a day job.


Re:I know your pain. (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436193)

When hiring a minimal work experience, projects outside of school and work is often a strong indicator of talent. It also really reduces the list of applicants.

Often, the students that like technology enough to play are the students that you want in a technology project. Engineers need to want to do the work; they need to like the field. If you can find an applicant that likes the material, then that is the person you want to hire. These people will be motivated employees.

On the other hand, it is also depressing to go through a list of 3rd year software engineering students and realize that none of them have ever coded anything significant for fun. You really want to find the exception that has wrote a Windows program in C++ (or anything else) before. I get really sceptical when I hear students talk about Eiffel, Scheme, and Haskell programming ability. Those are good training languages, but have you ever coded anything real? I want the student that has coded a real program. A program written for fun. A program that was not a compulsory part of a mandatory course.

"Things I do for fun" resume section (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436867)

For some jobs, I add a 3-4 line "Things I do for fun" section to my resume, highlighting relevant technical and non-technical hobbies and volunteer work not listed elsewhere.

It just might get me the interview if I'm on the bubble, and it may help me know which hiring managers see me as a person not just as a skill set.

The key is keeping it relevant and short, and remembering that the entire section is expendable if space is an issue.

Re:I know your pain. (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 8 years ago | (#16439293)

Oh my god, are either of you hiring? Because seriously, most of my experience on my resume was done for my own amusement. I've got academic experience too, but somehow I don't think "Some bullshit assignment involving pointers, and maybe some templates or something." looks real impressive on a resume.

Re:I know your pain. (not exactly) (4, Interesting)

gosand (234100) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436915)

Long lists of skills mean nothing.

Hmm, well, not exactly. If you only put down the skills that you have that are your best, you may miss opportunities. I have gone over many resumes, interviewed a lot of people in my day (probably 50) and have been a hiring manager. I like seeing a list of their skills grouped by their level of understanding of the subject. If using Linux is a must-have skill, but I don't need a guru, I might be willing to look at someone who has a decent understanding of it. I have talked to people who said "yes, I have used Unix". My next question is always "What shell do you use?" If I get a blank stare, I already got my answer. But it is much easier for someone to learn MORE about Unix than to have never used it at all. I don't have a problem with people putting everything they've ever used on their resume, as long as they qualify it. Oh, and aren't stupid about it... listing all the versions of Windows you have ever used is silly. I put on mine "MS Windows - 3.11 through XP" That covers it.

Yes, that can maybe be gleaned from job descriptions and whatnot, but things like programming knowlege can't always. I have a CS degree, and used to do programming. But I have been involved in QA and testing for my whole career of 13 years. I still have the various languages I am familiar with on my resume, with the caveat that my experience with them is fairly low. Of course, I still get people asking me about programming jobs, probably because they don't even READ my resume and probably have someone keyword matching on it.

I can tell you, finding technical QA people is difficult, so I make sure to point out on my resume that I do have a technical background. It makes a big difference when interacting with the programming team to have a CS degree. I can read Java and pretty much figure out what is going on, but I wouldn't want to have to write anything in it. I know enough to leave that to the experts. But if my job involved writing some Java, it wouldn't be too far of a leap for me.

Re:I know your pain. (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437495)

The list of skills is more beneficial when the hiring process is composed of non-technical people.

Technical people will look at the resume and (hopefully) look at the experience to see what skills the potential employee has.

Non-technical people will look at the skill list and check off skills they believe they need.

Re:I know your pain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16441529)

Unfortunately many managers put too much emphasis on the language, system, or tools used by the candidates. In my opinion it's better to look for person who has track record. Being familiar with a computer language helps in short term, but a smart guy should be able to learn one easily.

Specify the format (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434425)

Well, first of all you should realise that every applicant is just trying to please you. So if they write the CV in a certain way, they do it because they expect you to like it that way. How do they know? Well, they go by the few clues that they have, the most important ones being the job announcement and the company website.

> People do everything from a short list of jobs and positions to essays on each and every project they ever thought about in a job.

If you think that the variety makes it difficult to compary CVs, you can specify a certain structure. The easiest way to do that is a web front end for entering the CV information, with some guidelines on how many details to give. Just look at the CV generator at monster to get the idea. For applicants that can be a pain (unless you use e.g. monster), so you may lose some, but if it makes your work easier, it might be worth it.

> Surely the Slashdot community can help point out what makes for good formatting and content in a technical resume.

That depends on what you are looking for. I like to see a clear (and appropriate) structure, because structure is so important in IT. Many HR people look for fonts and spelling etc, but I always found that a bit superficial. Instead have a look for good command of the english language, which is not at all too common :-).

Oh, and BTW: all these requirements also apply to the job ad. You get what you deserve. So if your job ad is a huge unformated pile of bullshit bingo and TLAs, don't complain about the declining quality of resumes!

Re:Specify the format (2, Interesting)

cervo (626632) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435403)

I think it would be cool if the world had a standard XML resume format. Companies could have applications and using the XML tags each company could only view the information they want. Also each company could reformat the resume so that whatever they want to see is emphasized and those details they do not care about are hidden. A nice web front end with AJAX and all that web 2.0 stuff would probably sell many higher vice presidents (unfortunately).

But a killer app would be a WYSIWYG resume builder that puts it into an XML format and the WYSIWYG resume reader that lets you pick what you want to read. It would make life even easier to submit the resume to monster too. Instead of rebuilding your resume 5 or 6 different times for each job site, you could build one and submit it over and over again (minimizing the chance of typos/etc.).

The variety problem would be solved because companies could put it into whatever format they want.

I agree with you 150% on job ads, I've seen many with typos/misspellings/wrong words/more years of experience in a technology then the technology has existed (I loved 5 years .NET a year after .NET came out). Other ads are vague or just totally wrong. A job interview and the ad are part of a two way process. As much as a company wants to screen me out and interview me I want to do the reverse.

Re:Specify the format (2, Informative)

mrmtampa (231295) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436603)

The HR-XML Consortium http://www.hr-xml.org/ [hr-xml.org] has developed a whole suite of human resources dtd's and schemas. Monster and Dice are using them. My resume is built using the JobPositionSeeker-v1.0.dtd. It contains all the usual segments and includes a skills table which I print as the last page of my printed copy. I created xslt scripts for producing html and text versions. It makes it easy to keep current (but I don't).

Re:Specify the format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16435703)

Train your HR people then. If you have a correctly formatted CV, they are blocked by the lameness filter there. None of them know technology enough to let a technical resume minus the junk pass.

Re:Specify the format (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436839)

If you think that the variety makes it difficult to compary CVs, you can specify a certain structure. [...] For applicants that can be a pain (unless you use e.g. monster), so you may lose some, but if it makes your work easier, it might be worth it.

It might be, but IME it almost certainly isn't. I had this discussion just the other day, funnily enough, while talking to a recruiter I'd linked up with a friend looking for a job. I was explaining that the friend had decided not to bother applying, because the recruiter used an extensive, poorly formatted, and difficult to edit application form, which would require a silly amount of time to fill in. The candidate could have spent the same amount of time tailoring their already good CV and writing covering letters for three or four other vacancies that were at least as appealing.

Many HR people look for fonts and spelling etc, but I always found that a bit superficial. Instead have a look for good command of the english language, which is not at all too common :-).

It is indeed a relatively rare skill, and an underestimated one in technical jobs. That would be "the English language", BTW. :-)

Having said that, I think good presentation skills are also underestimated. Other things being roughly equal, I'd probably give a little bonus to a candidate who had taken the time to present their CV in a structured, easily readable format, simply because if they do that with a document like a CV, I think they're more likely to consider it when they're writing formal documents (or code, for that matter) as well.

Re:Specify the format (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438307)

Of course a nicely formatted resume could mean that they paid someone to do it for them, just like they paid someone to do all their homework and write all their papers through college. But at least they know how to delegate!


How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434427)

Graduated last December with B.S. in computer science. Began job-hunting at the beginning of summer. Sent my entry-level resume (no professional experience, but "fluent" in several programming languages and very few bad programming habits, mindful of good practices for robust code, etc -- I'm not an expert or guru programmer, but I'm certainly not bad) to what must have been at least 50 or 60 companies. No response from any of them, even up to now after much waiting. Still sending my resume to at least 3 or 4 companies a week, more if I'm lucky, as I chance discover them.

Is this absolutely normal and nothing to worry about? Is this profound difficulty something that EVERY entry-level graduate programmer looking for work encounters? Or is this highly unusual, and perhaps indicative that my resume causes people who say "blah" when they read it and that I need to fix something in it? True, I had a sub-3.0 GPA and no extracirricular activities (I was and am very shy -- I'm working on this, believe me) and no previous jobs, but hey, gotta start somewhere right?

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434477)

I recommend you try submitting your resume to mcdonalds. You're not going to get a job without proper initiative. I've no degree, but I seemed to obtain a job as network administrator in alaska. The problem wasn't the candidates, the reason I was hired because I can sell myself. I might not be the most knowledable on every platform, but I've saved the company I work at thousands of dollars. I've done a spectacular job at my current location. I'm hired on fulltime salary overtime exempt and they allow me to do what I want when all my tasks for the day are done. My resume was certainly not the best, but I did sale myself well.

Basically, you'll go nowhere. Start practicing on flipping those burgers now! :D

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434511)

How do you sell yourself to interviewers who don't even call you? Are you supposed to call them a few days after you send your resume, even if they haven't contacted you? Clue me in here, because your advice as it stands now is pretty useless and vague.

I'd rather not bullshit my resume, if that's what you're implying I should do. If I don't know AJAX, I'm not going to claim I know AJAX. If I contributed my part to a team project, I'm not going to claim I alone did the whole project. Et cetera, you get the point. I don't know much, but I do know people who read resumes are trained and experienced enough to smell bullshit when presented to them.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16438317)

This is the anonymous from alaska..

I see where you are.. hmm. Well I don't know in your situation. I show off my work which I've done, and have excellent references. You need to call back the company you applied, even if the recieving person is HR*shrug*. My recommendations is to do some small personal projects, and show them off in your resume. Study hard as possible in your wanted job which usually requires certain knowledge(cisco, sonicwallvpn, solutions on saving money). Getting the job is not difficult, you have to be the one saying, "I'm better than all the other applicants, hire me!". A good resume is not enough to get you hired.

1. Good resume
2. Some programming projects, even if they are small
3. References
4. show good practices, people like good management, documentation, communication skills(very important)

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434495)

My experience is that finding a new, decent, job takes around seven months. I've done it several times and that is the average time it takes from the time I start looking until I start the job. I've not noticed learning new skills or getting job experience as speeding the process up that much. The most useful thing is to make contacts. I'd suggest starting some personal company utilizing your skills and join your local chamber of commerce and actually attend events and be social. It's rough if you're shy but the personal skills are important for you career. You may get hired by Ma & Pa's Kettle Shop instead of IBM but it'll give you some valid work experience and a paycheck. Learn some new skills too. Knowing the tech stuff is great but if you also understand business and other useful stuff you'll be a lot more useful to future employers.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (2, Informative)

Lewisham (239493) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434503)

I graduated with a First Class Masters, so I am not *exactly* in the same position as you. I managed to find a job, as did most of my friends, quite quickly. However, your carpet-bomb approach has come up with jack, and you should have found a job by now. I am expecting you are doing something wrong.

First place to start is the resume. Is it eye-catching? If it's not, it's in the trash. You can Google for resumes, and some people have good-looking ones (especially graphic designers, but don't use graphics in yours!). Don't fall into the trap of copying other people's structure either. I suggest a Personal Profile, bullet-point list of achievements, and then your education at the bottom (your degree isn't too hot, you've got it, but they're looking for what you learnt from it, and that's what you are giving further up)

Does it tell them who you are? You have no work experience, which really hurts you, but what did you do at school? Think about what they are looking for. Have you been a team leader? Give an example when you had to communicate something effectively (written or verbal). Do you have teamwork experience? These are the things that your degree isn't necessarily going to prove you have, and separate the wheat from the chaff. You need to let them know.

The second place to look is who are you sending it to? Is it targetted? If you just send a CV to IBM, it's going in the bin. Don't just send it with a cover letter and cross your fingers. Actually apply to a position that exists. You'll need to apply for a position where you are suitable. You probably aren't going to get a graduate job with the big companies, look smaller. Look for grad programs, sure, but also look for small-time positions at universities, IT support for schools or small businesses.

The third thing to look at is definitely that experience problem. Get a job, doing *anything*. Even retail will help, show you can manage your time effectively, communicate with customers to help find what they want (requirements elicitation is a great way of wording that!) There is no job which will not help you resume (apart from stripper). I would suggest looking at recruitment agencies; there are usually temp programming jobs in cities that need a Java or .NET guy for a month or two to help out with a project; and they generally aren't that picky (if you were a stunning recruit, you would already be in full-time employment!)

I hope this helps. I also hope this seems very obvious to you, and this is what you have been doing already ;) Good luck! Persistence is the key! (and it really seems you have that in bucket-loads!)

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (2, Informative)

Cyphertube (62291) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435575)

To add on to the advice:

When dealing with recruitment agencies, you need to be persistent. It's a two-way street. You need to follow-up with them. The go-getter who calls is going to stick in their head more than the the stack of CVs on their desk. If they don't have your CV in front of them when you call, offer to e-mail it straight away.

The other part is that you need to be selective about the recruitment agency as well. Make sure they are good. Ask if you can talk to others who have worked for them. You don't want to get bound to some crappy company. And companies vary from region to region, so make sure you find out from someone local what the rep is, not from another part of the country.

I hounded my recruiter for weeks and weeks. And he got me a job, partly because I kept up with him, kept my skills fresh in his mind, and reminded him that I could do jobs he was thinking would be boring for me.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16434633)

Sub-3.0 GPA and No experience are the two things that are really hurting your chances to find work. Consider getting a temp, low-paid technical job, and removing your GPA from the resume altogether.

Apply to several temp agencies (all the ones you can find within an hour's drive!); you are very likely to stack up some nice work experience; this could turn out to be your foot in the door.

Contact some of your professors from college (the ones that know and like you), since companies often contact them directly looking for applicants. See if your family knows anybody in the industry to get your started.

Get off your ass: no slashdot until you find a job. While you sit and wait, redouble your efforts (5-10 resumes a day!). Instead, try to learn a new skill; focus on one of the skills in constant demand.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434743)

it took me 3 months to get my first in person interview, and they ended up hiring me. I started my search end of april last year. Not sure if that helps.. btw only 3-4 per week? I think you need to up the quota :)

BTW i had a 2.4x GPA. One thing i did do, was outside projects though. All of the 9 people who interviewed me, asked me about the MUD i worked on.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435939)

Why did you begin job hunting so long after graduation? That's the first thing I'd notice. As an HR deparment, I'd think you either couldn't land a job in that time or were already fired once and haven't dislosed it. There's nothing you can do about it now but that's something to think about.

Did you send 50 or 60 different resumes to these 50 or 60 different companies? You should always tailor your resume to each and every company. Make sure you don't waste resume space on things they don't care about. If the job listing doesn't mention C#, the don't waste HR's time by putting C# on your resume for them. And do a cover letter for each and every resume you send out. Make sure that letter focuses first on how you can be an asset to them and secondly on how much you would like to work with them.

Then call them. Call them early in the process and call them every time they say you should hear back from them. This is so important because you can get feedback on why they're not persuing you as a candidate. If you hear the same reasons over and over, you know that you need to fix something.

How sub-3.0 is you GPA? Surely you're not putting the GPA on your resume at under 3.0?

If your shyness is getting in the way of effectively job hunting, then you my need to consult a doctor. I had a friend in that situation and the doctor prescribed him an antidepressant to get him through the anxiety he experienced due to his shyness (there's a term for that and I forget what it is).

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436011)

I recently graduated from college (B.S. CS, Math minor) myself. My experience has been the exact opposite of yours: People are finding me and offering me jobs - I haven't actually applied for one since three years ago. It's come to the point where I'm turning them down (mostly because I'm currently doing a Ph. D. full-time, but I'm assuming you have no desire to do that - you'd honestly have a hard time getting in anyway with a sub-3.0 GPA).

Unfortunately, I also did the opposite of what you did in college (though I'm probably just as shy as you are) - I got involved with lots of extracurriculars (being president of an honor society, in particular, resonates very well with employers) and graduated first in my class. I also built up a relevant work history while in high school and college. If you go back for a master's degree at any point, try to do things differently - it's important.

From my experience, the statistic companies are most interested in when hiring college graduates is the GPA. This can be frustrating regardless of what your GPA is (if it's very high, they ignore the rest of your resume; if it's low or absent, it becomes a focus of the interview). If your major GPA is higher than your general GPA, you can try listing that. Lacking a good GPA, you're going to need to compensate with something else - work experience, hobbies, or, in general, some sort of demonstration that you know what you're doing in the field. If you did some sort of research while in college, you can try listing that, even if you have no intentions of pursuing an academic career - publications demonstrate uncommon expertise in a small area of a field, which can perhaps make up somewhat for a poor GPA.

Next, skills and experience: if you list a skill on your resume, list some way that you've demonstrated that skill, even if it's a hobby. Nothing says you can do a job better than having done something similar already, so build a portfolio of your work. I expect that you at least work on technical projects as a hobby, or else what are you doing in this field in the first place?

To summarize: you want to demonstrate to an employer that you have the skills and experience necessary to successfully perform a job for that employer. Merely listing the skill isn't enough; you have to prove, in one way or another, that you have the knowledge, intellectual strength, passion for the field, and work ethic to work on these sorts of projects. If your academic record does not demonstrate any of these qualities, you must find another way to do so if you expect anyone to hire you.

Get a temporary job and do volunteer work (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436965)

I assume you are looking for any paycheck that pays the bills and uses your skills, and that you aren't expecting $50,000 to start. You won't get it with your history.

After you've been employed 2-5 years GPA becomes less important.

Get a job, any job, even if it's not in IT. You need to pay the bills and get some "employment" experience. Best would be one that has a decent-sized IT dept, preferably one in the same building you are in.

In your spare time, do volunteer work that can boost your resume. Teach kids how to use computers or better yet, teach them how to code. Design web pages for charities. Write some code and publish it. Coach a kid's sports team - that shows leadership and management skills. The list goes on.

Meet people. Join your local ACM or IEEE professional chapter if there is one. Join your college alumni association.

If you have the luxury, pick a job that will lead to internal or external connections. If you work as a bank teller then get transferred to corporate, you can have lunch with some IT guys. In 3 or 4 years, they may hire you.

Another option is to go for the low-wage IT hire. Go to your state's employment office and look for IT jobs. SOME, not all mind you, but SOME, of those companies are looking for cheap labor and won't mind a sub-3 GPA at all, if you are willing to work for under the industry norm.

From reading your post, your biggest obstacle to getting a paycheck isn't your low GPA, but your past and possibly present shyness. If it's a current problem, join Toastmasters or a similar organization, they can help in that department.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (3, Insightful)

BDZ (632292) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437145)

There is some good advice in this thread and you should take it to heart.

I can think of a few other things. For one, do you have email addresses of old classmates, profs and school friends? Are you in touch with them all? If not, consider starting to contact them even if you haven't seen them in well over a year. Drop them a line to see how they are and what they are up to and mention that you are in the job market and would truly appreciate hearing of any openings they may know of.

Do you live near a decent market? If not, would you consider moving? Being willing to relocate might open new opportunities for you.

By all means, follow up! I can't stress that enough. If you see a job listing and send in your resume and cover letter (you do fine tune each to the job and company right? Research is easy with companies having a web presence and being unemployed you should have the spare time.) follow up a few days later. An email is the most basic, better if you are able to pinpoint an actual person, better than that is to call them. I know you said you are shy, but forcing yourself to do this is well worth it. Just call the main switchboard and ask to speak with someone in HR. If they ask why say it's to follow up on a job application. Believe me, this small bit of initative will make you stand out from the mass of emailed resumes.

Is your resume on the job boards? At least once a week (better once a day) go into your account and "update" your resume. When employers and consulting agencies do a candidate search the responses are listed by freshness. At least that is what my sister who is a headhunter has told me.

Again, I know you said you are shy (and I can empathize with that), but you might want to force yourself to take the steps to get involved with a developer community. Many technologies have regional/local user groups. Could be a good way to meet new people and maybe learn of an opening somewhere.

You haven't said where your talents/skills lie, but I bet you could find ways of putting them to use which would help you build a portfolio showing you can code. Whether it's volunteering to help a local non-profit on their website, soliciting local businesses for consulting work, hobby projects which you can reference in your cover letters (and pointing to source code on your website), etc. You need to show a prospective employer that you can "do".

Once you get an interview, whether it is a phone interview or a face-to-face one make sure to follow up immediately with a "thank you for your time" email. It used to be a thank you card was the norm, but email seems to be very acceptable now and it is immdediate. Also reiterate in it briefly why you want the job, how excited you are about the possibility of working there, etc. You can also use this as an opportunity to point out something that you forgot in the interview. Again, a little extra effort and initiative helps you stand out. Personally, this and being very enthusiastic in the interview, have probably led to more job offers than anything else.

Finally, just to reiterate what others have said -- look into getting into a consulting group. It'll get you job experience and help you build up a network. Once you can put some work experience on your resume your educational background (and that GPA) will not be the thing a prospective employer will focus in on. They'll see that you can hold a job, know how to work, and can produce results.

Good luck to you!

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16439999)

I know this probably isn't any consolation, but I'm in mostly the same boat...
Only my 2005 degree is Physics, not CS, and I've been programming for fun and profit in 7+ languages for almost 10 years, *including* while I was in school, and at verifiable jobs which are listed on my resume! I wouldn't say I had no extracurricular activities; I was merely the President of an academic student organization and also held a research position (which was actually 2 positions)... I took extra training in anything I could get my hands on... My home network is top-notch, I have servers and websites and projects galore... And all of this is mentioned on my resume.

And I'm in the same boat you're in. I've been unemployed for 8 months now, and my savings ran out 3 months ago. Good Luck.

Pump up all the Open Source projects you worked on (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 8 years ago | (#16441159)

Your resume should hit hard on all the open source projects you contributed to. The fact that an employer can look at a website with an interesting or useful project and see (or at least imagine) your name in the list of contributers is a MASSIVE help in getting that first job.

Include all your contributions, no matter how small.

Re:How is entry-level situation for other ppl? (1)

Belgand (14099) | more than 8 years ago | (#16441803)

I understand exactly where you're coming from. I graduated in Spring 2004 with degrees in Biology and Microbiology (CS minor stymied by one necessary course not being offered). While I was in school I spent three semesters doing undergraduate research that directly relates to my research interests (molecular genetics) and after I graduated my research advisor went on to take a position as assistant dean. I spent a year working at a crappy local call center because my girlfriend was finishing school and there's little to no work in this area. Eventually it got to be too much and I quit putting my time into searching for a job full-time. That was a year ago and in that time I've had exactly one job interview out of only two places that have even responded to my applications.

Scientific research isn't really an area where you can just work on projects in your spare time or learn new skills at home. Personally I worry that part of my problem is a mix of not having experience and a lack of good references: I've been long out of contact with my professors and even then there was only really one that would have given me a reference. At my previous job the rate of turn-over is so high that there isn't anyone there who could act as a reference and the one former boss who liked me no longer has any valid contact information.

My girlfriend and I are moving next month and hoping that that helps us find jobs, but honestly it seems like the entry-level job market is particularly terrible right now with what would normally be an entry-level job seemingly wanting a degree of experience that counters the idea of it being "entry-level".

Insist on XML, that'l sort em out... (3, Informative)

PaulHurleyUK (732613) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434433)

Insist on all CV's being submitted as XML data files, then you can sort them out easily ... http://xmlresume.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Paul Hurley [paulhurley.co.uk] , Completely Pointless

Re:Insist on XML, that'l sort em out... (4, Funny)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434513)

Never found an employer that actually accepted that format - unfortunately.

Depends upon the field (2, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434435)

The ideal resume structure depends upon the job for which one is applying. A resume I recently used was slightly under 200 lines of (up to) 78 characters of ASCII text; its sections were "Education" (2 degrees, 5 lines), "Scholarships" (3 entries, 3 lines), "Awards" (5 entries, 5 lines), "Employment" (3 entries, 8 lines), "Research" (8 entries, 60 lines), "Other activities" (10 entries, 20 lines), "Publications" (10 entries, 25 lines), "Software written" (3 entries, 15 lines), and "Grep bait" (3 lines). Obviously, this was heavily weighted towards pointing out my research abilities; this makes sense, since I was applying for a job doing research.

If I had been applying for a position as a programmer, I would probably have swapped the positions and lengths of the "Software written" and "Research" sections. If I was applying for a scholarship, I would have listed more of the awards I've received. If I was applying for a job at a company which didn't have a reputation for applying computers to the task of filtering resumes, I would have omitted the "Grep bait" section.

It's not rocket science: Decide what job you want, decide what you would like to see on a resume if you were hiring someone for that job, and then write that resume.

Re:Depends upon the field (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434805)

That's sound advice, from what I've noticed structure plays a very important role in creating a solid resume. When I applied for a summer internship I set up a resume by comparing sections used in resumes I found Googling, eventually it contained the following three sections: "Objective", "Education" and "Skills" (e.g. Operating Systems, Databases, Programming Languages, Methodologies). If you do have any previous working experience (unlike me) you should obviously list that too.

I based my resume on the following resumes:

filters suck (5, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434441)

The problem with resumes these days, IMO, is that you have to both make a resume that'll get through the automated filters many companies use and still be grabbing to the human that eventually will read it. Filters throw out anything without the right keywords so you have to cram your resume with lots of keywords. Obviously, like web pages that are stuffed with keywords, this leads to resumes that are long and ugly. Then you feel your resume is to long and repetitive so you feel the need to trim out details in your work and education history.

I always feel the need to explain not only what I know but also how well I know it and how recently I've used it. This is helpful I think but leads to a resume that some people throw out as simply being to verbose.

Then my girlfriend says my resume is ugly so she wants to spend a lot of time picking the right fonts, paper, etc despite the fact that the nicer looking version is actually harder to read. I hate resumes. Why don't we use one of the available XML-based formats for passing around resumes.

Re:filters suck (1)

ditto999999999999999 (546129) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434485)


Re:filters suck (1)

amelith (920455) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434535)

> The problem with resumes these days, IMO, is that you have to both make a resume that'll get through the
> automated filters many companies use and still be grabbing to the human that eventually will read it.

This is an important point and if I'd had some points I'd have modded you up.

I'd also mention that your CV will be read by lots of people e.g. recruitment agents whose knowledge of what the tech buzzwords mean is very similar to the automated filters. These people are gatekeepers between you and the potential employers HR department, which might well have been outsourced itself and have a similar level of knowledge. Getting a job isn't as simple as it used to be, it seems to be much harder to get your CV onto the right person's desk.

I've had mostly poor experiences with the big recruitment sites. Networking and contacts combined with targetted direct applications seem to be the way to go. Well, it worked for me anyway.

Re:filters suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16435701)

Luckily, that doesn't mean that you should put every single buzz-word for every single technology that you know in there. If a place is looking to fill a certain type of technical position, take a look at the "buzz words" that they use in their ad or find out more about the position through other ways. Then, slightly modify your resume to include the words that they use.

My Psychology Professor (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434455)

taught me that short and to the point works, under 2 pages, is preferred. Incidentally, my English professor shares this same attitude about good writing (using the book "On Writing Well" by Zinsser).

My experience bore this out. Of course, a resume is only to get a foot in the door. You can use (or prospective future employees) can bypass that step and use contacts to land an interview.

Re:My Psychology Professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16435079)

Last time I changed jobs (earlier this year), I had a 5 or 6-page CV summarising my skills, previous roles & projects, qualifications and certifications. The recruitment agency that was handling the job (Snr Software Engineer) I applied for told me in no uncertain terms that it was too short. They did not want to see summaries, they wanted to see full prose descriptions of what I had been working on in the past. I got explicitly told that the common "keep it short" advice is pure BS as far as they're concerned. If you have 20 years experience, they want to see a 20 page CV, I believe one of the comments were.

I ended up rewriting mine into a 9-page CV with a LOT more detail about my involvement in previous projects. And I got the job.

Of course, if you are able to include sufficient detail and still keep it short, that might be the best of both worlds. However:
a) That isn't easy to do. In fact it's damn hard. CVs are about the most difficult thing to write if you ask me (and I'm an at-times writer).
b) Even if you do succeed, not everyone will like it. It's all about targeting your audience properly. Perhaps even make a phonecall to the recruiter before you submit the CV and ask about what length/format they prefer.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that "short isn't always" best, as I've found out...

Know Thy Target (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437027)

Some employers and agencies like 1-page resumes.
Some like no more than 2 pages.
Some like you to use their application or their format.
Others want your whole life story.

Some require keywords to get past the filters.
Others find keywords a waste of time.

Some want 65-character-wide ASCII.
Others want a specific version of Microsoft Word.
Still others want PostScript or PDF.

Some want paper, others want fax, others want email, with or without attachments.

Some want references and salary history with your resume, others don't.

Know your target and customize accordingly.

Remember, getting a job is a job in itself.

Re:My Psychology Professor (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438917)

Yep, that's the best policy if you're looking for a 'generic' resume, which fits the bill for most scenarios. A good job to fit your skills, however, should require a targetted resume.

In general, though, a CV is essentially a big business card.

Blame HR departments and Agents (1)

Athanasius (306480) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434479)

In my experience you can't just write one CV/Resume. You always have to tailor it. Try to submit one that company A loved in the past to Agency/Company B and they'll complain it shows "too much of X, and not enough of Y". Tweak it to their specs and the next lot will complain it has "too much Y", then the next will say "where's the Z section?", and you'll go and add that in, to which the next will say "Sorry, because you included Y and Z it's too long, we only check the front page" (which is the reason for that brief listing of skillsets people use).

Like others have said, the only way to be sure the applications will be amenable to you looking over them quickly, and later in detail, is to have CV/Resumes submitted directly to yourself and pre-specify the format you expect.

What's needed is an ISO (eek!) standard CV format, and for all agencies and HR depts to accept it without whining.

Cha ching. (2, Interesting)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438299)

That's why I made our company post resume format requirements in our job listings. We also warn the applicant that we'll be calling in 2nd interviewees to prove their knowledge in person.

The number of incoming resume's shrank by 83% and now we mostly have qualified applicants. The problem now is choosing which one has the coolest sounding Mumbai or Hyberadad address.

(Just kidding on the address thing.....)

My ex was a headhunter... (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434505)

She helped me put my resume together, and it's never let me down. The format is:

Identification & contact details. (address, phone etc)
Date (so they know the resume is current)

Summary blurb. (Use this as your "hook" if you have anything to brag about.
"On our last project I was instrumental in our team's successful cure for cancer, elimination of world hunger and the establishment of Unreal Tournament as the nation's premier sporting event."

Bullet point listing of key competencies.

* Brain surgery
* Microsurgery
* Lisp coder

One or two paragraph summary of experience, most recent first.

August 2005 - Current:
Crowd controller for Rammstein.
Acting as a human buffer to crazed fans, I successfully protected the band from encroachment and injury on 37 separate occasions. A strong commitment to workplace safety was demonstrated by my use of a rubber-shielded baton, while my leather and vinyl attire coordinated well with the band's homo-industrial stage antics.

July 2004 - August 2005:
Speech Writer for Tourettes' Debating Team.

The key is to get ALL of this up to a couple of your most recent gigs on one page. That'll give the reviewer a good chance to assess you and shortlist you without having to wade through reams of paper, so keep it al brief and to the point.

Once you've got that part done, you an start listing other experience and qualifications on the following pages, then finish up with references. As well as a list of names and contact info, it's a good idea to include a couple of juicy quotes from referees.

"T Person was the most effective human speed-bump this company has ever employed. His great bulk would have been enough to stop a rocket propelled tank."

Good luck...

Re:My ex was a headhunter... (2, Interesting)

Alex (342) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435101)

As someone who sees a lot of CVs and has hired a lot of staff, I couldn't agree more with this.

Keep the summary short and concise - a few lines ideally.

Give more details about recent jobs than old jobs (I'm more interested in your recent experience, than your job as a barman when you were 18).

A good piece of advice I heard a few years ago - if you've got the experience - focus on the experience (ie if you are sysadmin, wanting another sysadmin job - focus on what sysadmin stuff you know), if you haven't got the experience - focus on the skills (ie if you are helpdesk dude - applying for a sysadmin job - focus on what transferable skills you've got - maybe how good you are at solving complex problems).

Personally I think quotes from referees is a bit cheesey - but each to their own. If you think a bit about what references are - would you really want to hire someone who couldn't fake a set of references ?

Fitting it all onto less pages by taking out all the white space and using a smaller font is cheating, and has a side affect of makeing your CV harder to read. If your CV is hard to read - there is a risk that people won't, most hiring managers will be faced by a pile of CVs you want yours to be the one that stands out, being well presented and easy to read is at least as important as the skills on the CV.

And last of all leave out anything you do that could be considered wierd (by the most narrowminded person). Ultimate Frisbee / caving / climbing / extreme ironing - ok, role playing games with wired names - probably not.

good luck,


PS - Don't come back with "its my skills that are important not my CV", presenting information in a concise easy to read format is an important skill.

Re:My ex was a headhunter... (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438687)

Fitting it all onto less pages by taking out all the white space and using a smaller font is cheating, and has a side affect of makeing your CV harder to read. If your CV is hard to read - there is a risk that people won't, most hiring managers will be faced by a pile of CVs you want yours to be the one that stands out, being well presented and easy to read is at least as important as the skills on the CV.

This bears repeating. One of the worst resumes I've ever seen was from a guy who might well have been fairly good. He had a lot of experience, certainly. I never found out either because we didn't actually interview him or because I left the company before we did, I don't recall which.

Anyway, his resume looked as though he maintained it as a text file and after each job or project, he just added a paragraph to the top of the file. He'd been doing this for probably 20 years, so he had about 4 pages of it, all printed in 10 point font (might have been monospace, don't recall). There were no breaks or other formatting other than a newline at the end of each paragraph - not a blank line between them, mind you, just a newline short of the page margin if the paragraph didn't stretch all the way across the page. He might have used blanks between sections, I don't recall. Headings were in the same font as everything else.

I actually spent a few minutes trying to read it and I seriously couldn't. The (lack of) formatting was so awful that the solid wall of text made it impossible to concentrate on the words.

Don't do this. Format cleanly, and keep it concise. Your resume is worthless if no one reads it.

Re:My ex was a headhunter... (2, Informative)

tyldis (712367) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435281)

Recently hired someone...

12 applicants and 2 of those did as the ad instructed (written and snailmailed application, without diplomas and crap, only a cover letter and a CV).
Most had a messy CV which I have a hard time reading and comparing with others.
One hadn't updated his since 2001.
The worst one was almost 60 pages long and included a huge essay detailing his life. Most pages were just 'diplomas' from every course or training he ever attended. It seemed as if he asked everyone who ever taught him ANYHING to also make some kind of 'proof' for that knowledge. Needless to say, I simply threw it out without even looking at his details.

I want a CV/resume like parent is suggesting plus a SHORT letter, max 1 page with:
  * Who you are
  * What you currently do
  * Why you want to change employer
  * Why you suit this job
  * What your goals are

I also want applicants to be honest. Telle me of potential weak spots you have, and tell me how you want to tackle them.
Applicants with minor faults look more honest than those perfect candidates. And claiming to have a skill you don't have only makes you nervous and will piss me off when I expect you to be able to do something. If I know I need to hold your hand for a while I will happily do so if you were honest about it.

I don't want to see your diplomas until I ask for them or invite you in for an interview.

Re:My ex was a headhunter... (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436369)

I want a CV/resume like parent is suggesting plus a SHORT letter, max 1 page with:
    * Who you are
    * What you currently do
    * Why you want to change employer
    * Why you suit this job
* What your goals are

I don't know.. I agree with you mostly, but when I look at resumes I pretty much completely ignore whatever they've put down as their "goal" -- everyone knows the real goal is "to get your company to exchange your currency for my services", I don't really care if they're able to BS something else.

Goals are important (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437135)

A hypothetical college grad wanted a job that would lead to leadership roles within a couple of years. His stated objective:

To be technical team lead within 24 months

This tells me several things:

This guy doesn't want to merely sling code his whole life, he wants to lead.
I should look elsewhere if I know my company can't do this, because he won't be happy and will likely leave.
I SHOULD consider this guy even if he doesn't meet all my other requirements, PROVIDED his resume demonstrates leadership, because in 2 years we'll need more team leads.

All of this is useful communication between the hiring manager and the prospective employee, makes for a more productive interview, and prevents interviews that won't lead to an offer anyways.

Re:My ex was a headhunter... (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438897)

Leave off references. They might keep your resume on file (depending on how many applicants they get, etc.) and more often than not seem to not check references in my experience. Maintain your reference list seperately, so that if they really want to check them, they can - and not all companies even ask for referneces when hiring. Just denote that references are available upon personal request.

Here's a good model (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434541)

Just do something like this Aleksey Vayner [ivygateblog.com] .

(Yeah. I know its old news by now. Still makes melaugh)

One Page (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434725)

Make it one page with a short work history (past 5 years only) with dates, places and company names. In the opening blurb, condense your professional interests, accomplishments and goals into a short paragraph.

Graphically organize this information so that it is easy to digest at a glance, bolding important words as appropriate for the situation. Be honest and do not embellish or pad your experience, education or knowledge.

Since blinky LEDs and tiny batteries are cheap these days, you could always attach a few to those envelopes going to the places you *really* want to work for.

Re:One Page (2, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435655)

I can't tell if you are joking or not, but forget about the
"keep it to one-page advice".

If you can only fill in one page, then keep it to one page.

If you need 10 pages, fill 10 pages, but try to put the really good and recent stuff on the first page.

Think long and hard if you want to work for a company that rejects you based solely on the number of pages you submit.

Re:One Page (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435873)

I disagree. If I'm looking at a stack of resumes and I'm busy (i.e., not a HR professional) I'll not likely pick up one that weighs a lot. A heavy CV usually indicates too much information (possibly padding) and someone who cannot (for ego reasons or whatever) summarize their own experience and qualifications.

Put a web link or note mentioning extra information instead. If the interviewer is interersted s/he'll call you for more details.

Re:One Page (3, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436093)

>If I'm looking at a stack of resumes and I'm busy (i.e., not a HR professional) I'll not likely pick up one that weighs a lot.

Your job is to find the right person for the job. Again its not clear how the weight of a resume has anything to do with this. Do you also filter by the orientation of the staple on the resume?
For me, do I really want to work for you if my coworkers were chosen by this arbitrary method? What does it say about your skills as a manager?

"Hi! I have no technical skills, no experience I can share, but I work here because I lucked out because I have a one page resume. Good thing too, because I would have lost to at least three other more qualified people but they never even got looked at because they had a hefty five page resume. Nice to meet you."

>A heavy CV usually indicates too much information (possibly padding) and someone who cannot (for ego reasons or whatever) summarize their own experience and qualifications.

I can do both of those things, pad and fail to summerize, with a one or two page resume.

>Put a web link or note mentioning extra information instead.

You can't be bothered to turn the page of a document right in front of you, yet you find it ok to ask a person to go to an computer and type in a potentially long/complex text (URL)?

Re:One Page (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 8 years ago | (#16439517)

It's a VERY rare thing that an applicant actually has a legitimate reason to fill 10 pages of a resume, excepting cases where an employer specifically asks for a detailed job history. A couple pages is more than enough space to give general information about skills and objectives and give some detail for the most recent / relevant jobs. A resume is not a life story, it's a sales pitch. Submitting a 10 page tome indicates either unfamiliarity with the purpose of a resume (really, if you've GOT 10 pages worth of jobs, you should be past this point) or an inability to edit ones work to a specific target.

If I were hiring, I probably wouldn't outright disregard a resume based on its length, but it's sure not going to be an advantage. If the first page doesn't look VERY promising, it's going to go in the trash, especially if I've got other promising applicants who do a more concise job presenting themselves.

Re:One Page (1)

QuestorTapes (663783) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438181)

> If you can only fill in one page, then keep it to one page.
> If you need 10 pages, fill 10 pages, but try to put the really
> good and recent stuff on the first page.

Have to disagree. Not that one page is a firm rule, but ten pages is excessive. The main purpose of the resume (at least in the US) is to get an interview or call. Ten pages of detail doesn't help you do that. Pare the older/less relevant stuff down to a series of short summaries, and add "ask me for more details". If you're in the ballpark, they'll ask. This is particularly useful when companies put every cool catchphrase they've ever heard of on the list of qualifications.

Bring the ten pages of detail to the interview.

> Think long and hard if you want to work for a company that
> rejects you based solely on the number of pages you submit.

I don't know of any that reject people for sending too long a resume; but I know -many- that give the big, honking ten page resumes to Sally from HR to pare down to the "relevant" ones, and Sally isn't usually the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes Sally doesn't forward the resume because "I don't think he speaks English very well; his resume says stuff about Perl and awk and sed, and I think he's been sick; I saw something about Mono on his resume?"

Re:One Page (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#16440213)

Make it one page with a short work history (past 5 years only)

Why just the past five years? Stuff I did in 2000 might be quite relevant to some need an employer has, or might get a foot in the door through networking ("Hey, Joe! Says this guy worked at XYZ corp in 1999. You used to work there, you know him?").

BTW, I'm not in the market but get a fair number of calls each month from recruiters. My resume's [infamous.net] format must be ok.

Boy am I going to watch this thread... (1)

Merovign (557032) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434801)

I have an oddball background (some people have it worse). I've tried about 9 different formats and I always get a 50/50 love-hate response. That part's probably normal and I'm being paranoid. :)

I always find that, on forms like Monster's, there's always one or two required fields I can't correctly/honestly fill in the way they want it. I tend to find the automated formats "unflattering," but there you are.

It's a hot job market, though. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but that's because it's a very competetive one as well.

Interview matters (2, Insightful)

blwrd (455512) | more than 8 years ago | (#16434903)

I'm not in position of actually hiring people, but every now and then I've been asked to interview the employee candidates. The managers then base their decision (more or less) on my opinion. In the (hopefully clearly structured) resume, the candidate claims to have knowledge on specific technical areas, let it be programming environments, languages, databases or whatever.

My job as a interviewer is to determine how truthful the resume is. This is done by discussing the competence areas with rather low level technical terms. Asking whether the candidate can explain terms like semaphore, mutex, process, thread, iteration, recursion, and so on, tells a lot about persons technical skills. Way more than "Java Programming, level 4", in the resume.

So if the person can fluently discuss with technical terms, he probably also knows the stuff he's talking about. Conclusion? A compact, well structured resume may get you to the interview, but IMHO it's the interview that eventually matters.

LaTeX (2, Informative)

A-Rex (602166) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435095)

You probably want to find or make a good LaTeX/TeX template and use that. Every computer science master student does that here at least, and the companies loves it.

HTML (1)

phliar (87116) | more than 8 years ago | (#16439011)

Yes, LaTeX is nice, and in a past life I wouldn't have expected anything else. (Academia -- paper CVs being handed around is how things were done.)

Now, though, I really don't want to have to keep track of any more paper, my desk is already piled high. Nothing beats a simple URL sent in email. (HTML attached to email (not HTML email!) is second.) And just plain HTML, no flash/backgrounds/blink/... Don't set fonts and sizes, let the reader's browser select the fonts to use. (Nothing pisses me off more than having to read a 3-pt font because yor platform and mine are different. Dark blue text on a black background would just complete the disaster.) Only use plain markup: H[1-6], blockquote, dl/ul/ol, em, b, p, etc. Don't use tables for page layout.

Experience should be the first section, because that's what I'll use for an idea of your skills. One paragraph for each job, with an outline of responsibilities and tools used. Try to be brief -- no need for the entire saga, that will get covered in a phone screen or interview. Try to get all the important information on the first page.

They may be required to suck (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435109)

I recently graduated, and my school's job placement program required resumes in a very particular format - which looked like crap. However, I guess it does standardize things a bit when they send off fifty of them to a company that asks for "everyone in CS with a 3.4 or higher gpa".

I think the best way to get better resumes is to in your job posting either give a format or give specific items you'd like to see. I knew when I wrote mine that it had to get past a million filters - so even if I only spent a couple days and one project writing Java, I had to get it on there somehow - if only to get past the HR department into a real interview, where I knew I could convince people that I knew how to code.

If you only care about job experience, say that. Or if you want sample code.

My current employer glanced at my resume to get me an interview, but then didn't even want to see my references. They just gave me a coding assignment and two days to do it. I've honestly started thinking that might be the best way, for just a straight introductory to middle-of-the-road coding job. If they aren't don't want the job enough to do the assignment, why hire them? And how else can you tell what their code is like?

Show some love (1)

fishdan (569872) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435159)

One question I always ask in interviews -- "Tell me about some code that you wrote that wasn't for work or school." As an example, I wrote "voting fraud" program to You need to show that you'll be a great employee because you love the job. If you're going for an IT position, you should be proud of your home network. If you're a coder, you should talk about the program/package that you wrote just for fun. Whatever you do, on your resume have examples of how you do it for the love of it -- Write about your MythTV, write about your web site [sportsdot.org] , write about your spam filter implementation ....write about SOMETHING that shows you're in the field because you LOVE it, not because you're looking for a job.

Re:Show some love (1)

pci (13339) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436241)

While I understand why you want to inquire about how much they love IT; personally I would never base my hiring for a position on the size of a candiates home network or what other projects they code for on the side.

My reasons are this:
  - For some people IT is just a job, just like working at Mcdonalds with a better paycheck and a different skill set.
  - Anybody can build a home network now, for under $1500 I can buy two new computers and a switch.

I would love to work at McDonalds for $50,000/year (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437185)

For some people IT is just a job, just like working at Mcdonalds with a better paycheck and a different skill set.

I love the challenge of tech work, but I love the fast-paced nature of retail also.

Give me $50,000/year to hand out burgers and frys and I could be happy. Of course in my spare time I'd be slinging code :).

Substitute other relatively-low-paying jobs like teaching, less-skilled nursing, some less-skilled skilled trades, for McDonalds and there are probably a number of happy computer programmers who would switch for the same paycheck.

Mod Parent Up (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436259)


How is someone to grow in their career? (1)

cervo (626632) | more than 8 years ago | (#16435353)

In a lot of cases, people know languages/technologies very well that they do not use at their job. Basically, if you follow the procedure of only accepting technologies used on in the job history, once someone gets their first job that will define them for the rest of their career. Most computer science (and even other subjects that require programming) college graduates used C++ or Java while at college (in the past 10 or so years). In addition to using it for many years at school, they also use it on their own. Nevertheless, their job may be using VB/C#/something else.

Another good example is Linux. A lot of us use it at home but at our jobs we are stuck using Windows or some proprietary UNIX. Nevertheless when my last job got a Linux server to experiment I was there to install Linux, recompile the kernel with what we needed, and to show everyone how to navigate around the box. Now using your technique if I was applying for a job at some company using Linux I would have been screened out.

Another example I can think of is Ruby. There are many Ruby fanatics who use it all the time at home but just cannot use it at work. If you were looking for a Ruby programmer a lot of these people who use Ruby like crazy at home would be excluded because it is not in their work history.

Also, no matter what technology there is, your company will eventually probably switch technologies. Do you want to keep hiring people every time your company switches technologies? Probably you need someone who can grow and learn whatever technology they want. Also, even if you do not plan to switch technologies (which sounds questionable to me), the new employee will have to learn your system. I think the technical skills list provides a good basis for talking about what the candidate knows. If you see many technologies not interested in their work interest it may express a willingness and desire to learn new things. I think the best thing you could do (and I had a company do this) is to give a small assignment to all you candidates in whatever technology you are most interested in and see who succeeds.

I had a financial company do this to me one time (in a language J that me, and most of the people being hired, did not use). The task was ultimately easy but because it was a language that most people don't use it took time to use the language reference to look up the task. Ultimately, it narrowed the field of applications from hundreds (1.5-3 hundred I forget) to a handful for the interview (if only I didn't get lost finding the building I would probably have been working there).

This becomes even more important as you use less popular technologies. But also, if you hire people and they are only permitted to work with things in their past work history, the job is going to be boring. Personally if I don't learn anything new at all at a job, I'm going to be looking to leave.

Advice: The top is important too (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436045)

Even if employers may ignore the skills at the top, those skills will do a lot to get your resume found by search engines. If you end up near the top of a results list for some common search term and your resume is suitably impressive, people are, at some point or another, going to contact you with job offers. This is obviously a good position to be in. Never be a supplicant if you can avoid it.

As for what to put on it, a short paragraph about each job is pretty standard. Obviously, you want to highlight your strongest points. If you have an excellent academic record, it may help to include more detail in the education section. Similarly, if you have lots of work experience, make sure that the resume gives an accurate representation of that experience. If you have good records in both, balance it based on what sort of job you're looking for.

Biggest Resume Mistake (3, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 8 years ago | (#16436375)

The biggest resume mistake that I have ever seen is when everyone in some college / university program takes a course where *EVERYONE* has to format the resume exactly the same way. The result is that the entire classes resumes look almost identical.

After I read the first two of those resumes, every single one of them gets weeded out.

You really need to do something on the first page that clearly gives me a reason to hire you. When reading through a stack of resumes, I am looking for a reason to hire you. Why are you better than everyone else? If you can't give me a reason to hire you in the first page, then you are out. I am not reading the second page.

Incidentally, I went to one of these photostat resume courses once. I did a resume on blue paper. I was held up as an example of the worst possible resume you could write. That resume netted me a job interview with a prestigious high-tech company at the time.

Lesson: avoid having the exact same resume format/content that your classmates have.

Only one job? (1)

MT628496 (959515) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437249)

I work at our school on the network staff, we deployed a new network wireless network over the summer, and I'd say I'm pretty good at linux administration. I do things like install big brother network monitor for my machines in my dorm room, just because I can and take my CS assignments and make huge projects out of the basic labs and when 11 pages came out of the printer, I told my boss that there were 3, doing some development work for the school, etc. Basically, I'm really enthusiastic. I don't think I'd be able to be a coder all day, I think sysadmin/netadmin is in my future. I'm currently working on cisco certifications and trying to learn as much about systems management as possible. However, because I spend so much time with this job, I don't really have any other outside research to speak of, or any other jobs. I'm a sophomore in college now and have held this position since halfway through freshman year. It is mine until I graduate. Does only having one job and no outside research or awards and such to speak of a hurt my chances? Do certifications help at all? I'm trying to figure out what I can do now to make myself stand out later.

I put my resume in XML (2, Informative)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 8 years ago | (#16437485)

I used the format described at http://sourceforge.net/projects/xmlresume [sourceforge.net] , which seems to be down right now or not accessable.

I found that you should have a section called 'technical skills' to list all your skills. You can call it skill proficiency, but only if you are proficient in ALL the skills. I switched the name when I got burned in an interview at yahoo, because I put mysql and was expected to be a f'n DBA in mysql, and expected to know all date time datatypes. I'm a developer who has worked with mysql, but have always had dba's that dealt with that crap!

I have also found that using 1 sentance bullet points, which in the xmlresume format they call 'achievements' I think, at least that is what I am using. each line says clearly how you used technology X. Also I think you should use 'active voice' I think it is called ( or is it passiv, I forget ), like 'I created blah blah using C/Java, blah, which resulted in more sales of the product.

Re:I put my resume in XML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16439245)

A "DBA in MySql" is an oxymoron. If I ever saw a resume with that, it would go directly to the shredder just so it wouldn't insult my trashcan.

this is what i do: (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 8 years ago | (#16438879)

Basically, this is how my resume looks:


This section just has the schooling and special certs I've got, with the dates of accomplishment and any other pertinent information (GPA, magna cum laude, etc), in table form.


This is a list of past/current employers and the dates of employment/contract, listed with what the job entailed. If you've got a lot, just list the most significant ones and note that you've done so to give a better picture of your overall experience (letting them know that additional information will be made available upon request).


Conceise, organized groups of technology skills - basically, buzz words. I add and remove skills as they become outdated/ill-used, and taylor the list for each application. Again, note there are other minor skills not included for breivity's sake - they don't care if you're able to configure and set up apache or what have you if you're being hired for a development position, but they'll probably be interested in experience in kernel development or apache module creation. Make it buzz-word compliant.


Build stock cars for a hobby? Involved in a competitive sport? Published a book? List them very briefly. Demonstrate cross-competency and personality - useless for screening, but if you get past the entry HR shmuck to a real interview, then chances are it'll be more personally beneficial than not having it. They can tell in synopsis that you're not just a coder/administrator/whatever and are knowledgeable outside your realm of expertise. Obviously it'll be more useful for certain types of jobs than others, so use discretion.

I try and keep it to a single page with multiple columns per section, with a right-face section header, and a 10pt font. ... of course, as this works for me, I'm probably shooting myself in the foot by giving advice on the matter to duplicate it. :P

The one-track resume. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16439107)

Hmmm, how to write a good technical resume? Well you know you're at slashdot when the focus is on all things technical. How about, how to write a good resume for all kinds of jobs? Say for artistic, managerial, sales, or even physical labour? That way you can go beyound whatever comes along (unless IT is ALL you ever plan to do) and get a career.
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