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Marketing Yourself as an IT Jack-of-All-Trades?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the ofttimes-better-than-master-of-one dept.

Businesses 169

ultimatemonty asks: "As an IT professional looking for a new job, I'm trying to figure out how to market myself as a 'jack-of-all-trades' IT worker. I'm currently employed at a medium sized university as a video conferencing specialist. I'm good (competent) at many IT related tasks (Linux server management, programming, Windows/Linux desktop support, video conferencing support, etc...), but specialize or excel in none of them, sort of like the lone IT manager in a small shop. What kinds of jobs would the you look for with this kind of work experience, and how would you market yourself (design your resume, cover letter, and so forth) to prospective employers so they get the full-breadth of your capabilities, without over-stating your abilities?"

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Well, be careful! (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831483)

I got caught on the job looking at porn and...

Oh wait! You said Jack of all trades! My bad! I thought I saw 2 'f's there.

Re:Well, be careful! (0, Troll)

Roydd McWilson (730636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831843)

That's how I got my latest job, believe it or not.

Re:Well, be careful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19832811)


Re:Well, be careful! (0, Troll)

Roydd McWilson (730636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834427)

Hmm... I don't think we should go into the details here :)

Re:Well, be careful! (1)

jwilcox154 (469038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833565)

Mr Chips [] is that you?
*me ducks* ;)

Ceiling cat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19835727)

... is watching you jack of [] !

Jack of all trades aster of none (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831503)

The thing you have to remember is if you are the Jack of all Trades you are the master of none. Therfor the pay will show it.

I am in the same boat. I know a wide range of windows stuff Cisco Blackberry A number of 3rd party applications ect. But what I am trying to do is focus deep into Cisco.

It's thoes who specialize in a field that make the most money. The sad thing for me and you is that we wont hit the big bucks till we can really dig deep into the tough stuff.

Re:Jack of all trades aster of none (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831585)

Also to add, im sick of companies that try to hire a Programer and a Network Administrator in one. It just does not work.

Don't do that (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831507)

If you list a bunch of divergent technologies on your resume, and you describe yourself as a jack of all trades, employers basically see you as a junior admin with exposure to a lot of different technologies that really doesn't know all that much (especially given the huge number of resumes out there that list technologies in the "skills" section because the applicant once read about it in a magazine or something).

Tailor your resume to fit each specific job you apply for. If the job is Windows heavy, emphasize your Windows work on your resume. If the job is Linux heavy, emphasize your Linux work. Also, don't just list what you know, list what you've done. Tell them about your big project that saved the company $10 million. That sort of thing holds a lot more weight than telling them you once logged in to a VMS machine.

Basically, employers don't need to know and don't care about the full breadth of your capabilities: they care about what you can do for them. Do not just shotgun a laundry list resume to a thousand different companies, make sure each resume you send out specifically addresses how you can fill the need the company has, as evidenced by their job posting.

Re:Don't do that (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831549)

Tell them about your big project that saved the company $10 million.

I'd like to add that if you're going to throw out numbers like that be prepared to explain how you or your employer arrived at that figure.

Re:Don't do that (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831595)

Well obviously, don't lie. If you never actually completed a big project like that, don't say you did. If you did, be prepared to explain the project in as much detail as possible in an interview situation. If you really were deeply involved in it, you should be able to easily answer most questions they will ask about it.

Re:Don't do that (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831613)

While I find a Jack of all trades very useful myself, and consider myself to be in that category, I don't think a lot of companies are looking for that. Most mid to large size companies like people to do very specific tasks with very specific job descriptions. Somebody who is a jack of all trades would probably fit in a lot better at a small company, which is where I happen to be, because they will have much more opportunity to work in many different areas. Small companies don't have entire teams devoted to database design, UI design, middle tier design, requirements gathering, architecture, testing, and all those other areas of software design, so the people who do work for small companies probably get to see at least a little bit, if not a lot from all those areas. Also remember that the full term is "Jack of all trades, master of none", however, I consider myself to be a "master" or at least really good in quite a few areas, and the all the rest of the "trades" just really help to back that up.

Re:Don't do that (2, Informative)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832289)

The fact that they don't have teams devoted to database design, UI design, etc. etc. can be a major problem. Often times when you work for companies like this you end being drastically under-funded, and then you get reprimanded when things don't work the way they should.
For Instance:

I work for a small(ish) company (~200 employees, about 50 users, and about 100 networked devices). Unfortunately for me, about 20 of these networked devices are wireless, and only support 32 bit WEP. This is a MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR problem for me. Our wireless network is expected to cover a VERY large outdoor area (a huge car lot, and a ~10,000 square foot vehicle re-conditioning building). To accomplish this task, i built us a couple of soekris boxen with ubiquiti XR2 radios in them, and some big honkin' gain antennas. This causes quite a bit of "bleed". Or signal goes a LONG way if you point the right antennas at it. I have explained this to my boss time and time again, that we need to upgrade to devices that either support WPA, or preferably openVPN. I just get a blank look and a "no". Since we're not going to invest the probably 20 grand that it would take to get the devices that I need (a bunch of intermec CK-31s), i have set myself up a rudimentary network monitoring station. I run etherape to keep an eye on what is going where, and kismet/airodump-ng to keep an eye on what macs are out there probing, and who is connecting to what. This setup works okay i suppose, but it is done using my own PERSONAL equipment.

I could keep ranting, but the point is that something working for the big honkin' company can be a really good thing.

Re:Don't do that (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833075)

Wait- you only have 20 wireless networked devices? Why don't you just check MAC address on your soekris boxen against a master list of 20 pre-approved MAC addresses, and if it isn't one, firewall the connection?

Re:Don't do that (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834109)

Because everyone knows it's unpossible to clone a MAC address....

Re:Don't do that (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19834255)

Ugh, the XR2 is the best card in existence at the moment, but dump the high-gain antennas, and get some decent ~10dBi sectors. If you haven't already, load MikroTik on the Soekris boxes (or get some real MT hardware), set them up as l2tp or PPtP concentrators as well as wireless APs, and forget layer 2 encryption entirely. Don't allow access outside the encrypted tunnels (including disallowing _any_ wireless forwarding), and authenticate off a radius server. For as tiny an network as that, I'd probably just use MT's built-in "user manager" radius server, but a seperate freeradius box is better.

Not that hard, and won't cost much.

Re:Don't do that (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19834503)

BTW, if you are willing to run beta code, you could also use MT's OpenVPN concentrator, and their built-in monitoring server "the dude".

No new hardware, way more capable than the CK-31s, very secure, and easy to manage.

Re:Don't do that (1)

rjshields (719665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835767)

As long as you pointed it out to your boss, you've done your job. Put it in an email, and then when someone hacks in to your network, print it out and show your boss as an "I told you so".

Re:Don't do that (1)

abcgi (1081263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833909)

I concur, specialise not generalise. IMV The answer is in your question, as it often is, sell yourself as a:

"video conferencing specialist".
The generalist skill set will come in handy and open up more opportunities as your career progresses.

Re:Don't do that (5, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832203)

What the parent poster said.

And also; make sure you are able to talk about Your Own Initiative:
Projects you managed. Problems you discovered and fixed, on your own, without oversight. Also, if other techs come to YOU for advice, detail those happenings as well.

If you're the go-to guy, and can be trusted with a small budget, and a certain amount of autonomy to come up with fixes to long standing annoyances that nobody else thought of even trying to solve (overcoming organizational inertia) - then try to convey that. Most managers would give their left nut/tit for this kind of worker. (and often, this kind of worker is misclassified as "junior").

Bottom line is: breadth of skill does nobody any damn good, if that skill does not come with initiative. Breadth of skill is difficult for a busy manager to manage. That level of management is usually tasked with fighting fires with his or her immediate superiors. They're too busy to task you - so you put your skills to good use, be everyone's hero.

Re:Don't do that (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832437)

I don't know that you necessarily need to leave stuff off of your resume, though it probably can't hurt if it's something they're not looking for in the first place. However ...

Tailor your resume to fit each specific job you apply for. If the job is Windows heavy, emphasize your Windows work on your resume. If the job is Linux heavy, emphasize your Linux work. Also, don't just list what you know, list what you've done. Tell them about your big project that saved the company $10 million. That sort of thing holds a lot more weight than telling them you once logged in to a VMS machine.
... detailing major projects you've been involved in (and the level of involvement) and a rough dollar estimate of value is a big deal. If they think you can come in and save them thousands of dollars a year on their IT budget and implements cool new ways of getting work done then you're more likely to get hired than the guy who just fixes broken stuff all year.

I used to be the guy who did cool stuff. Now I'm jaded and just fix broken stuff while playing Desktop Tower Defense for the better portion of the day.

Re:Don't do that (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833951)

I used to be the guy who did cool stuff. Now I'm jaded and just fix broken stuff while playing Desktop Tower Defense for the better portion of the day.
I hate you for describing me perfectly.

...never did manage to finish DTD "The 100" :/

Re:Don't do that (3, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833043)

Exactly right- and he even gave the real answer in the article:

sort of like the lone IT manager in a small shop.

That is EXACTLY the position a jack of all trades should be going for.

Re:Don't do that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19833049)

This has always bothered me somewhat. I am expected to give out tailored resumes, but in any interview I get, I'm presented the same cookie-cutter psyche-situational questions that they've obviously cut 'n' pasted from some HR publication.

Re:Don't do that (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834083)

Basically, employers don't need to know and don't care about the full breadth of your capabilities: they care about what you can do for them. Do not just shotgun a laundry list resume to a thousand different companies, make sure each resume you send out specifically addresses how you can fill the need the company has, as evidenced by their job posting.
QFE. Took the words right out of my mouth. If you are young and brilliant, I.T. hates you. Remember, most of them are 40+ people who know how to fix mainframes and how to hack Unix. They all have families and see people like you as competition. The fact that you are, in fact, better than them makes them feel stupid. Make sure you find a company with a future, and tailor your resume to suit your needs. Be prepared for a lot of humiliation as those above you try and make your life a living hell. I suck, I couldn't handle it. Best of luck to you.

Re:Don't do that (1)

scolbert (1122737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834527)

I agree. Tailor your resume towards the job you are seeking. Its fine to describe your skills, but its better to focus on what you've done. Good luck.

Sammy at Personafile []

Re:Don't do that (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835043)

I would second that. It is either that or they do not believe you as a result the interview becomes quite hard. Quite often you get filtered out at the pre-interview stage. Suffered from that myself.

One thing that helps in cases like this is to use different identities for your different personas. Most recruiters index their databases based on email so have your Unix persona CV with a "unix" email address, Network persona with a CV with a "network" email address and software development persona with a CV with a "software" email address. Amend the relevant CVs so that the "primary" skills look "primary" and are not muddled by the "secondary" ones.

And overall, being the jack of all trades in nowdays IT is bad for your career.

Pick one and become an expert (3, Interesting)

ditoa (952847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831529)

While a "Jack of all trades" is great you a hook to sell yourself on. Pick something you enjoy doing both as a hobby and for work and then become an expert in that field. If you really are competent then the step up from "good" to "great" shouldn't be that hard and great should be enough to get you the job except for very specialist roles.

Also be honest when you get interviews. There is nothing wrong with saying you have recently decided to aim at a particular area in which to become an expert.

You are worrying more about the problem than just getting on with it.

Re:Pick one and become an expert (4, Insightful)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834085)

Some people don't want to be experts - I have absolutely no desire to be an 'expert' at anything. I am a generalist and have found a few roles where that is a bonus. And where there isn't a "need" for a generalist, I can go in to a specific role and branch out, letting my general skills help out where they can.

"If you really are competent then the step up ..." - I don't like the implication there. I am very competent, but I would find it exceedingly difficult for me to become "great" at any one part of my knowledge. I don't like to focus on one thing - I read multiple books at a time, I watch movies and read at the same time, I listen to music and surf and cook. I move from Windows to Linux to databases to development to application support to web to systems management many times a day, and I do them all well. Not everyone is made to become GREAT at things. I am a poster child for ADD and I think it's a great skill.

Not everyone wants to be an expert, and I don't think that should detract from their usefulness - like anything, you just need to find the right spot to apply your skills.

Re:Pick one and become an expert (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834779)

Bingo. Companies might need "jack of all trades" type people, but it's not what they hire for. Just look at the job IT listings on Dice and Monster... They're all looking for people with x years of experience with 2 or 3 specialized products, thinking that's the best way to find the specific skills they're looking for on their current project.

Of course, that probably won't stop your new boss from giving you a dozen Windows servers to build three months down the road even though you described yourself as a UNIX administrator on your resume. That's just the nature of the beast.

it generalist (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831541)

as a generalist, you could qualify as "sysadmin" at a smaller shop, which because of their IT budget, usually means "guy that knows how to do everything for us". I'd emphasize creative problem-solving abilities and a drive to arrive at good solutions quickly.

Of course, you'll want to avoid coming off too arrogant -- no one wants to hire an I.T. jackass-of-all-trades, but we all know a few!

Re:it generalist (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831633)

Indeed, or if you seek "more money" the best you will get is "IT Manager" or possibly "IT Director" for a small to medium business. Those jobs are out there but they are sometimes tough to find. To land those, I have found that "customer service" and "good shopping and delegation skills" are items to list on a resume. They know "one guy can do it all" on a day-to-day basis, but for anything where there are projects to execute, they expect you to be able to pull in outside help.

This is how you grow into management.

Re:it generalist (1)

ogre2112 (134836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832919)

Definitely... I would also add that the company you go with doesn't need to be an IT shop. Many smaller realty shops or execs that work from home often hire an IT guy as a clerical assistant because of their skills. I think you'd be surprised at the income opportunities as well.

Go small (4, Insightful)

sheetzam (454981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831545)

I found myself in a similar situation, and found a place that suits me perfectly. It's a small development shop. I'd definitely recommend trying to find a smaller company; the smaller, the more freedom you have to use all your skills. Seems the larger the company, the more specialized they believe their IT folks need to be. The smaller, the less particular jobs are a specific person's responsibility. Just my two cents.

Re:Go small (0, Redundant)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831695)

I agree with you. I mentioned it before in another post but I'll mention it again. I too work in a small company and you really do get more of a chance to work an wide array of projects when you work in a small company. Everybody I talk to at larger companies has very specific job duties and does very specific (often boring) things. However, I get to work on just about all aspects of my company's product, and I find this very rewarding, and very challenging.

Re:Go small (1)

WhatHappenedToTanith (1126905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831911)

I'll add a 'me too' in that I also agree. I worked in a small startup which was great fun and gave me loads of control and interesting projects across the whole IT spectrum. Unfortunately we were all too good at our jobs and the company grew larger and larger until multiple IT specialists were required. Although adapting into a single role is easy enough, I found it much more boring than how things were when there was more scope to explore, so left to find new pastures and dont regret it at all.

But not too small (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19832063)

I currently work as the "sysadmin" at a small business (100 employees) and it is a hassle sometimes.

They (management) don't provide an adequate IT budget, so I basically can only buy things when something breaks. They don't take IT very seriously, and have no foresight, so when something does break, it causes a lot of problems. So for example, instead of replacing a server after a reasonable time, they prefer to wait until it dies before replacing it.

They are constantly looking to cut corners, which has become very tiring. The network infrastructure was installed by a previous sysadmin who didn't know how to do wiring. He was aparently fired because the network performance was terrible and he couldn't fix it. Needless to day, it has been in serious need of upgrading for years. Management refuses to pay to fix it because "we're moving". Of course, the move to a new building is constantly being delayed, more than a year at this point.

Luckily, I just received a job offer at a less small business (200 employees), so hopefully it will be better.

Re:But not too small (1) (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834051)

"so I basically can only buy things when something breaks"

So buy a bigger hammer.

You can use it to "adjust" equipment that you think needs replacing, AND as a LART.

Uh, you answered your own question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19831547)

sort of like the lone IT manager in a small shop.
Then that's what you are. Market yourself as that. Duh.

Bad Idea (1)

minipulator (821212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831573)

I'm afraid that I have to report that, in my personal experience, this is a bad idea. Every time I have tried to qualify myself as being a specialist in more than one area (even when true) it has lead to me not getting the job in question. For your own sake, pick a specialty to sell yourself on. The rest of the knowledge will help you once you get in the door - but it will not help you get in the door.

Overstate your talents (2, Insightful)

Webdude (5964) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831583)

I would say overstate what you know in your resume, any technology you have touched for more then 5min should be on there. If you are good at picking things up and understand how technology works in general you are way better off then 95% of IT workers out there. I work as a consultant and I see people with 10+ years of experience on a single product and in 20min of reading a manual i am more proficient in it and able to do more. There end up to be two types of people that interview you, one that looks for the bullet points and if you don't have them you don't move forward, second the tech person who should be more interested in your base knowledge and your ability to learn then knowing some small detail.

Re:Overstate your talents (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831749)

I recommend against this. As soon as I see a resume for a programmer position with people saying that they know Photoshop, MS Excel, 3DS Max, Adobe Acrobat (yes, I've seen that on a resume), scheme (I know it's related, but did you ever really use it outside that second year CS class) and other completely unrelated skills, or listing things that I'm sure they aren't really that proficient in, I start to think about how they have nothing of real substance to fill up the resume with and toss it in the garbage. You should be able to demonstrate that you have the skills necessary for the job, and to show what projects you've actually done (for school, fun or employers) and not just pad the resume with every piece of software you've ever used.

Re:Overstate your talents (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831809)

When we do technical interviews, our policy is that anything on the resume is fair game to ask questions about. So, if someone comes in with a laundry list, we'll try to find a question to ask about some obscure technology they say they're proficient in (nothing too tough, just something that someone who knows the technology would know). This will tell us how much they're trying to puff themselves up.

We'll also ask progressively harder questions in each category that we have expertise in just to see what they do when they start becoming unsure of themselves or just flat don't know the answer. We are much more impressed by someone who simply says "I don't know" than someone who tries to bullshit us. If you don't really know a technology, don't go around pretending that you do.

Re:Overstate your talents (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831891)

Asking questions about what people put on their resume should be standard practice, especially when they write a laundry list. First if they really do know all the stuff they listed, it's probably a good idea to make sure you find a position in your company for them, even if it's not really the one your interviewing for, because people like this are few and far between. Second, if they don't really know the technology, then you don't want to hire them at all, in fact you want to rule them out as soon as possible, because the people who lie on / embelish their resume are the kind of people you don't want to be working with.

Re:Overstate your talents (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832925)

Yes, I love those interviews. I always get an offer.

I have a tone of stuff on my resume. I have never had a job with just one responsibility, and I always go out of my way to do new work. That means I got a lot of things on my resume.

So when some one starts asking questions expecting me not to actually know things, I blow them away.

A good question to ask is "What they learned from what they have listed."

Re:Overstate your talents (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832957)

'So, if someone comes in with a laundry list,'

If you don't want a laundry list then don't put up a job posting that smacks of laundry list mentality. If you list 10 very specific technologies that your candidate must be proficient in then I will list every one of them on my resume guaranteed. After all, you have already told me you won't consider a candidate unless they list all of those things.

For example, it is very reasonable to list 'Experience with backup technologies and mechanical tape drives.' But you should expect a laundry list back if you listed a specific program, drive, or version of a program. If you understand backup schemes and how tape drives operate then the actual software used to perform the function really doesn't matter.

'We are much more impressed by someone who simply says "I don't know" than someone who tries to bullshit us.'

No doubt, but the tech world does push people to this. Ignorant employers or performing general onsite service is essentially sales and requires selling your customer on the idea that if you don't know it, nobody does.

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19831643)

1. Apply for every job that looks halfway decent
2. Lie and say your an expert at whatever it is they want you to do.
3. Learn everything you don't know as fast as possible.

Isn't that essentially how I people become Jack-Of-All trades? Claim you can do something, learn it, do it.

Re:easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19834911)

Yeah, isn't that kinda like this movie...? []

Startups and small shops (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831669)

If you're OK being THE IT guy, or one of very few, then any small shop is a good place to look.

As far as marketing, just be honest and be yourself. The better, smaller employers look for that, and being yourself helps make sure it's a good personality fit, which matters more in small shops as well.

Specialize (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831687)

while you may here this said quite a bit, tailor your resume for each position. Some are looking for server admins (knowing both solaris and windows) while others (like myself) hire very specific skills (Storage admins). For example,

I know many people go to EMC, HDS, IBM classes. Or because they know how to configure VxVM (veritas volume mgr) they consider themselves Storage Admins. I'm looking for what have they specifically done in their job as it pertains to the skillset I'm looking for. Have you implemented SRDF over FCIP? Explain in detail how you migrate from a disk array coming off of lease, to a new array.

Also, if I see a resume that has 500 technologies on it. It is my every right to ask about any one of them. Just to give you an example, one guy mentioned token ring, and I brought in a CCIE coworker that helped migrate quite a few token ring companies to fastethernet. I would much rather see a resume that showed exactly what you can contribute to my team, rather then the 500 technologies that you know how to use.

Surely, you don't put 'firefox, gmail and winamp' on your resume, but you probably know how to use those.

Interview well... (2, Insightful)

ktakki (64573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831705)

I've been on both sides of the desk with regards to IT staffing and interviews. The resume and cover letter were the least important factors. For me, the interview was most important, followed by professional references. This is not meant to belittle the value of a comprehensive and professionally done resume. I'm of the opinion that you should place more emphasis on the interview(s).

If I were the interviewer, I'd want to know that you can solve problems without creating more problems. That you know when you don't know an answer. That you know how to find the solution. That you're presentably dressed and groomed. That you are at least competent when it comes to communication and interpersonal relations. To me, these factors are more important than a list of operating systems you've administered. The "IT" part of "IT professional" is relatively easy, a solved problem at the very least. It's the "professional" part that eludes some people.


Re:Interview well... (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831823)

The resume is unimportant once you get the interview, however, for getting the interview, a good resume and cover letter is essential. Spelling and grammatical errors get an automatic circular file, as do padding the resume with useless information and just listing things that you may have used for a week. If you can't name and describe a significant project in which you used a certain skill, then it doesn't belong on your resume. With the quality of some resumes I really feel sorry for some people, because they will probable never get a job. If you're writing skills are that bad, at least do yourself the favour of getting professional or possibly a friend to help you compile a resume. Something like this is definitely worth it.

Re:Interview well... (1, Insightful)

ktakki (64573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833991)

I don't disagree with your points; consider the part of my post that refers to "the value of a comprehensive and professionally done resume".

But resumes, like some job applicants, lie. Were we to accept job applicants on the basis of a resume without an interview and a reference check, we'd be fucked.

I can embellish my resume from here to Timbuktu. Bullshitting my way through an interview and getting references to lie for me is an exponentially harder problem.


Glass houses (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19834047)

"If you're writing skills are that bad,"

Re:Interview well... (2, Funny)

caluml (551744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835517)

"If you're writing skills are that bad" Not bad. 8/10.

Re:Interview well... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835849)

That you know how to find the solution. That you're presentably dressed and groomed
I'm fine with the "finding a solution" thing. However, ANY company that requires me to wear pants is NOT going to have the pleasure of paying my salary!!

Options (3, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831767)

One option is, as you stated, a small shop or group where you are doing everything.

I really think the next easiest option is to look at the things you have done and specialize in what you like the most. If you like programming, learn to program well, be able to answer basic questions like what is a linked list (or more complex questions) - learn one language well, as well as the basics of programming that you find in books like "Code Complete". If you like server management do that.

I am a UNIX systems administrator, and for me, even this is a very broad definition. I understand that firmware/time-of-day should be in sync across CPU/memory boards on Sun Enterprise 4000's, or that the file /etc/redhat-release is the file which shows which version of Red Hat you are running, but I can tell you it is very, very rare in interviews to find people who would know both those things. You're lucky if someone "strong in Linux" even knows that about Red Hat. I have to say that Solaris people tend to know their stuff better (and this is coming from a Linux fan). So I consider it difficult to bridge these two things, which are very close, and you are talking about all over the place.

My suggestion would be to specialize in one thing, and learn it well. I had to rank a Google job application on how well I knew something, I forget if the scale was 1-10 or not, but you should specialize in something and get to know it as a 9. Being a jack of all trade is fine, meaning having 3-6 ability in other things, but you should know one thing well - something you enjoy and think has a future. Once you master that one thing, then you can work on getting other things up to 9, but I meet so few people who are at level 10, 9, or even 8 for what I need, I would reiterate to learn one thing well. A real jack of all trades knows multiple things at say an 8 level, but that is rare. We have one where I work, but he knows many things at a high level. Someone who knows lots of things at a 4-6 level I generally find useless, in any environment.

Re:Options (1)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832281)

Someone who knows lots of things at a 4-6 level I generally find useless, in any environment.

This touches on an interesting point. Hiring someone is about trust. You need to be able to trust that the person can do their job effectively. 4-6 is not at that level and is, as you say, generally useless.

Re:Options (1)

nbvb (32836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833247)


Yeah, it matters. And I would expect someone who listed both Sun Enterprise experience, as well as Red Hat, to know both of those things.

But I guess I'm a jerk. I actually expect people to know the things they put on their resume. Like the kid who was very proud of himself for "building a Beowulf cluster" (yes! How many times do you get to mention that on Slashdot IN CONTEXT??). He was very proud - and somewhat cocky about it - until I asked what message passing API he was using. Oops. Seems he, well, watched his professor build one.

Re:Options (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835843)

A real jack of all trades knows multiple things at say an 8 level, but that is rare
With 2nd edition that used to be the case. However, since WotD took over, a multi-class character has become much more common.

We're talking about Dungeons & Dragons, right?

Jack@$$ of IT? (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19831797)

I saw the headline and thought, "Why would I want to market myself as an IT Jack Ass?" and the thought crossed my head that it must work because so many IT people I meet should probably have a tail pinned on. Anyways I'm a programmer so this isn't exactly my discussion, but for me I am sort of a jack of all trades, with an extra emphasis on C/C++. This fits well with the modern shop that does a lot more C# these days, but still has needs for someone who has a good background in C.

Several resumes. (1)

Generic Player (1014797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832011)

I am a unix sysadmin pimp, a really good web developer, a strong network admin, and I even know windows pretty well (and will tolerate a little of it when needed). So I have several resumes, one for each kind of job I might apply for. The current list is:

Unix sysadmin
Windows and Unix sysadmin/network admin
Network admin (cisco shit)
web developer
web admin (people who specifically want apache, tomcat, mysql, postgresql, etc)

Then just send the resume that suits the job. If you try to put all that on one resume, most people will assume you don't know any of them really well, or are just lying. Lots of people spend 6 months learning something, then the next 8 years trying their best to avoid learning anything else, so they are suspect of people who keep learning all the time.

That's not how you land a job. (2, Informative)

IgLou (732042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832019)

If you are truly a generalist, then it should be easy to tailor the information on your resume to suit the position you're applying for and market the "extra" skills as a bonus when you land the interview. So if the position you are looking for is say an Exchange Administrator you list that as being a "Primary" skills and then list your other skills seperately. When hiring managers or HR people have to hunt around your resume to find what they are looking for they'll pass you over.

That said, if you want to do a mish mosh of just about anything you want to look at a smaller company that has a small IT team or maybe a start-up but start-ups eventually grow (or die) and you might find your self having to pick a role. Your other option here could also be contract work, it's a great way to do varying things provided you're only landed quick contracts.

In the end I'd advise you pick a specialty and see it through. Generalism is fine but if you want to be the best you specialize. Pick the one thing you're best at or love the most and pursue it with everything you got. You're general knowledge will never be wasted, everything ties together in one way or another. I was a bit of a generalist too and when I really focused on my speciality my general knowledge really paid off since I could always talk about my work in the larger context of what was going on.

Solution-Independent IT Professional? (2, Informative)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832093)

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. By commanding diverse technology, you're able to develop solutions to best suit the customer rather than just doing what you did everywhere else. If you want to make an analogy to the medical field, while there are specialists for feet, brain surgery, etc, at the end of the day, you call a doctor for your initial diagnosis, not a neurosurgeon.

Another thing you can do that no one else can is a nuts-to-bolts solution from the bottom up from a problem -- you can manage a solution from the get-go rather than being "the oracle guy". Large consulting companies like IBM do solutions that are sometimes agnostic w.r.t. implementation.

Lastly, you're an independent worker -- you can find solutions where none exist! This is terrific for many positions.

Some ideas of places where you'd be good: I work for a large software company who does road shows regularly. There's an IT guy who goes to set up our servers/clients/etc who needs to know how all of it works -- he can't call the database guy to help him. Freelance IT Professional -- there's quite a few places (car dealerships, small businesses, etc) which need IT infrastructure but can't pay for a full-time IT guy. Just ask around, you'll be surprised at how many places need help (and how well it pays) and you're one of the few people who could do it (warning: requires people-skills). Last idea: larger consulting company like IBM. IBM builds call centers and stuff all over the place and needs people who can implement solutions as well as think them up to work in existing IT environments.

You sound like a very qualified employee who I'd rather hire than the "oracle guy", since I bet you can learn oracle whereas other IT guys get stuck in specialization ruts.

Re:Solution-Independent IT Professional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19832589)

This AC is totally on board with your suggestion.

I'd just sum up, and phrase it differently...

Ask prospective employers if they're looking for the complete toolbox (you), or will they settle for for a complete tool (your competition).

Creative writing skills help, too. :::cough, cough:::

Network Administrator (3, Interesting)

mnmn (145599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832129)

That's the title.

Some places think a Network Admin is someone who administers a network. They're wrong.

Those are called Network specialists or something like that.

Generally a company of 20 to 100 employees hires one IT guy to support all desktops, the servers if any, the website, Internet connection, managers' blackberries, the occasional phone issue and the president's home computer (and his children's Xbox). That my friend, is a network administrator, occasionally called a system administrator.

IT Technician, IT Administrator or IT guy are also used. As soon as you hit 2 IT employees, you are called an IT manager and everyone stops worrying about what to call you while you start looking for IT Director jobs on dice all day.

Perfect job for you: (1)

stinkbomb (238228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832205)

What kinds of jobs would the you look for with this kind of work experience...
How about "lone IT manager in a small shop"?

There is a reason it goes (0, Redundant)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832231)

Jack of all trades, Master of none! Pick something.

Same situation (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832247)

I have a computer information system: web design bachelors and currently work at the university as a peer tutor. I'm a jack-of-all trades. I have an animation associates as well. Some programming experience, some graphic design experience. I know the whole Microsoft Suite, Photoshop, XHTML, CSS.

I figured I'd just go for an Masters in Business Administration, then go for management. As a manager I would be able to use most all my skills.

I'm still trying to find that first job to get the experience, while going to graduate school, so I'm in the same basket as the poster. If anyone knows how I could market myself, as a jack-of-all-trades, that'd be great. Thanks

Re:Same situation (1)

iMaple (769378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833443)

I know the whole Microsoft Suite, Photoshop, XHTML, CSS.
Why isn't the parent modded funny ... he knows the whole microsoft suite and XHTML and photoshop and CSS. In case that doesn't sound impressive enough, the microsoft suite has many more resume-worthy items that the parent was too modest to tell you about: Word, Excel, Notepad, Solitaire, Windows media player... Wow ! that sounds like the computer skill set of my mostly computer-illiterate grandfather .. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but

If anyone knows how I could market myself, as a jack-of-all-trades, that'd be great.
I would suggest learning more trades.

Either synthesize, or wear multiple hats (2, Insightful)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832403)

It really depends. Your targets probably are small shops and startups, particularly if you have any real experience, unless you can find a position that touches the bulk of your skillset.

My own resume is about 5 years of programming, a year or so of build/release, and 6 years of QA, along with a lot of general IT and strategic skills. For a while, I had problems with dilution--I wasn't really in the programming space anymore, didn't have enough build/release to be more than junior there, and didn't have enough QA to make it a slam dunk to pay me at my overall experience level.

In my case, I went to software test automation, which synthesizes all these skills, and have done quite well in that space. But in addition, I regularly get hit up by startups who want to cover two or three hats with one person. Eventually, with enough experience, you'll be in demand if you can ride out those early years.

The trick, if you go that route, is you really need to be quite competent in everything you sell yourself as (or at least be able to inspire confidence until you can get to the man page or O'Reilly book). Otherwise, you're only really as marketable as your best skill. That's why it can just be a lot easier to concentrate on one thing. Of course, if that skill goes overseas or otherwise becomes obsolete in the local workforce, you're screwed.

Easy - get used to low paying jobs (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832495)

Because companies that aren't looking for specialists are usually too poor to hire all the positions they require. In fact, look up the origin of the phrase "Jack of all trades" and you will end up at the word journeyman. It pretty much is a concept that is interchangeable with systemic poverty. Go find a specialty, or get used to being underpaid.

That's what I've been billed as... (0)

logicassasin (318009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832507)

Jack of all trades is usually what I'm referred to. As a result, I have a 3 page long resume with experience ranging from simple desktop tech, Win32 admin, Unix admin(Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, System V), Linux admin (RHEL 2-4), AS/400 ops, VAX admin, and now including QA and Test engineering. The scope of the resume leads potential employers to look at me as someone that adapst very easily (said to me by my current employer), and in this environment they need people like me. Soon I'm adding Java and C/C++ Developer to the resume, as they're asking that I brush up on these skills.

Try expanding your resume. The days of the one page resume are long gone.

Re:That's what I've been billed as... (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832893)

"The days of the one page resume are long gone."

ummmm No.

Average time a person spends on a resume, 12 seconds.
It better be short, it better list what they are looking for at the top, and your first sentence needs to make them want to read more.

Re:That's what I've been billed as... (2, Interesting)

gobbo (567674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833795)

Average time a person spends on a resume, 12 seconds.
It better be short, it better list what they are looking for at the top, and your first sentence needs to make them want to read more.

A JoaT needs a long resume if they want to demonstrate the range and flexibility and variety of solutions they can bring to the company. The solution is the split resume: a summary with the major hit points, ideal for the 12-second scan, followed by the 2-3 page compendium that prepares the interested employer for the interview.

Maybe you haven't done any hiring, or work at unimaginative corporate hives, but that 12 seconds is generally used for sorting, and the short list candidates get the long treatment, where the laundry list resume is more than useful.

I've been hired as executive director of an organization that required me to build turnkey editing systems and assist with IT in the parent organization, do creative design and production, marketing and admin and business planning work, design curriculum, speak at conferences, and competently address social justice issues. Very, very few eligible candidates. Similarly, I've worked at startups where the JoaT position was a necessary evil at first, and the long resume clinched those jobs. YMMV.

Re:That's what I've been billed as... (4, Interesting)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834611)

It better be short, it better list what they are looking for at the top, and your first sentence needs to make them want to read more.

I believe this might be a US thing. Here in Australia, multi-page Resumes are the norm, and if you don't have enough information on your Resume to give the person reading it a fairly good idea of your skills and experience, they'll just bin it.

As an Australian, working for a US company, that has to interview US applicants, I find the "one-page Resume" to be incredibly frustrating. There's never enough information included to tell anything useful about the applicant unless it's either a) an applicant who's very new to the industry or b) an entry-level job like L1 helpdesk where applicants don't really need many skills past a pulse. This means I have to do, at the very least, a preliminary phone interview to find out whether or not the applicant is even worth bringing in for a "real" interview - an annoying and time-consuming proposition (doubly so for me since I have to line-up timezones appropriately to call people in the US).

Contrast this to the Resumes I receive from Australian applicants, who typically include academic qualifications, industry qualifications and job histories *with details* of responsibilities, achievements, skills gained, procedures, etc. Sure, there's a one-page summary that has a brief outline (what an American applicant would call the whole Resume) but it *also* includes more in-depth information allowing me to get a good feel for how the applicant has spent the last few years of their working life, in terms of gaining/exercising skills and experience.

The end result is that I can spend 30 - 60 seconds looking at each Resume's summary page, to quickly weed out people who are clearly unsuitable (eg: Electrical Engineering degree, about 30 years old, last 3 jobs in another country, applying for a L1 helpdesk job), then go back and spend 2 - 10 minutes for each Resume in the remaining pool finding the people who actually look suitable for the job, and make the shortlist for interviewing. Thus, by the time I actually get around to calling them in for an interview, I am already reasonably confident they have the requisite skills and experience, and the interview becomes about a) *verifying* (as opposed to discovering) their technical abilities (easier, relatively speaking) and determining whether or not they have the right attitude and personality.

I have yet to see a "single page Resume" that has told me anything truly useful about an applicant. A page's worth of bulleted previous employers, boilerplate "skills" and "responsibilities" one-liners, and "achievements" of maybe a sentence or two each, just doesn't have enough meat in it to determine whether or not an applicant is capable (purely from a skills and experience perspective) of doing the job. Subsequently, I've ended up getting in further contact with some applicants who were clueless and, I'm sure, missing a few that would have made excellent employees.

Slashdotters, what's it like in the UK, Canada, etc ? What style of Resume is typical in those places - just the one-page summary, or a one-page summary backed up by a relatively detailed explanation ?

Re:That's what I've been billed as... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835875)

an entry-level job like L1 helpdesk where applicants don't really need many skills past a pulse
After the current outsourcing trend, I foresee a zombification trend. Thus, helpdesk applicants won't even need a pulse! And this trend is already starting. Take for instance my manager. He doesn't seem to have a heart, let alone a pulse.

There are two types of employers (2, Informative)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832595)

Those that employ Hammer-Engineers and Screwdriver-Engineers, as opposed to those who employ carpenters.

I'm in the same spot you are. I'm a coder, a sysadmin, I do server support, desktop support, network support, firewalls, routers, topology planning, you name it. Geek through and through.

My experience teaches me I'll NEVER be happy in a place that hires Hammer Engineers. Why? for one thing, because I'd be undervalued from day one ("How many years of experience do you have managing Veritas Netbackup?" ... "3, but I've been a sysadmin for 15 and did other backup software etc etc..", "No, we're looking for a Veritas Netbackup Engineer who did this for at least 5 years". These people see me as a junior netbackup "engineer" of 3 year experience and lots of totally irrelevant other history. As far as they care, I could have been shoveling shit for the rest of my career, it wouldn't matter. They can't see the relevance.

Now, if by any odd fate you'd end up working there, you'd be sitting among people who made a career of running Netbackup, or Solstice Disksuite, or BMC, or notepad, or whatever. People the majority of whom cannot manage their own windows box. People who don't meddle and tweak and experiment what they're given to, seeing themselves as specialists in their field and knowing nothing but ("You're a SOLARIS administrator! WHY are you wasting your time on practicing your coding skills?!")

This is, of course, an extreme case, but it's a real-life one I've worked on and hated every second.
Contributing factors are size of company, non-technical management (the level of management directly responsible for hiring the tech people, not senior management) that have limited capability of gouging how well a candidate fits a role other than by narrowing down the scope of the role to something their non-technical minds can grasp and putting a numeric estimate (# of years experience) on that. Companies with high employee turnover rates that use these narrow-scope-job-roles to easily replace people, etc.

I'm not an Open Source fanboy. I'm pragmatic both ends of the divide, and am just as good using paid solutions as unpaid ones. I'm for *thinking*, then doing what's best. These hammer-engineer-hiring companies typically stay away from the thinking bit, some having policies dictated by FUD-overfed clueless management. When I mentioned simple solutions like using some Open Source tools, I ran into a fucking concrete wall, just making me more frustrated.

I've since moved to a company that hires carpenters. ONLY carpenters. When I hit here, there were 3 of us taking care of a 300-odd-employee organization, ~100-200 servers, 3 int'l subsidiaries, and everything from PABX to desktops to servers. Needless to say, all three of us were complete JOAT's that had the required skills to put into production anything the organization required, given access to google, the net, and a reasonable amount of time to learn and implement the topic.
We've since become 8 people, and being a Jack-of-All-Trades is the only way one would ever get to work here. The sysadmins code, the coders can do their [linux!] desktop box without desktop support changing their diapers.

This kind of employer is YOUR home court. Whereas you would almost always be undervalued, underpromoted and underpaid at the former kind, here you are valued significantly higher than a specialized candidate. Needless to say, the proximity of likeminded individuals will very simply and in the most literal sense, make your work really really fun.
If I had a gazillion dollars, I'd quit my former job, yet I would keep working at this one because I enjoy it.

To narrow down the places you want to be looking for, look for the following:
1. Places that are not afraid to use open-source. More often then not (obviously not always) this requires people who "know their shit" to properly piece together and manage.
When I was looking for a job, I found the following search criteria to plug into job-ad searches to BEST filter out the first kind of employer, and gang together all jobs of the second kind:
(Yep. that's it!).
Employers who actually go as far as to mention that on a job ad are the ones you want to be talking to (even if you end up managing AIX and Solaris).

2. Personally, I heavily prefer inhouse-shops to integrators. When you work on your own computers, you're almost entirely your own boss. It's YOUR machines. When you work on client's kit, there's a mountain of beurocracy and four semi-technical (if you're lucky) managers you need to go through for every change you make. I see this as an indirect breeding ground for the first type of employer a large percent of the time(with exceptions of course).
Small integrators who don't have the cash to hire people for every nut and bolt tend to be an exception to this.

3. Take note if they're recruiting a SYSTEM administrator, or a SOLARIS/WINDOWS/AIX/whatever administrator. Again, this is right only part of the time, but as much as it's a semantic distinction, it gives a lot of people away insofar as to which employer-type camp they belong to. Also, always market yourself as a SYSTEM administrator (unless, of course, you're targeting a hammer-engineer position, in which case, tweak your CV to show you're the best there is of the hammer engineers and little but).

4. Since we've made it to the CV, put a mild amount of marketspeak on your CV. To get to the good tech manager who will hire you you may need to go through a non-technical agent, who you need to convince to shortlist you. OTOH, too much marketspeak, and when you finally do find that good place with the techie manager, you don't want him to hurl when he sees your resume and bin it, because if he's the techie manager you so very much want, he may have the same aversion to it most techies do.

Cheers, and good luck finding a techie-worthy place!

Ive tried, doesn't work. (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832637)

I'm a developer, sysadmin, software architect, system architect, business and functional analyst, in both unix and windows environments, and senior in a few high demand development environment: no one gives a flying duck. If its a software architect job, they don't give a flying duck about the system architecture. If its a developer job, they don't care about my Java experience if its a C# job. Even worse? They don't care about my C# experience if its a VB.NET job, and vice versa (wtf, there's like 6 keywords of difference and a slightly altered event model). So what I do? 1 resume per job I apply to. That works. Well. Just have to creatively word things out: "X years experience in .NET environments including Y years in C#". That catches the fish, while stating things as they are do not.

Aim higher with your job search (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19833261)

Aim higher. 10 years ago, I found myself in the same boat as you, just swap some buzzwords fpor my skills at that time (C/C++/Corba, X/Motif, POSIX-UNIX, Win32, MacOS, Admin, telephony, InstallShield, Oracle, DB2, MS-SQL, Nortel, Cisco, VPN, ...). I landed a consulting gig at double my prior salary as a Technical, Application, Network, Security, and Database Architect. I barely code anymore. Schedules, budgets and overall "Solution Designs" are what I do now. Nultiple teams of folks follow my designs through implementation. Everything from "add 3 disk drives to server", to upgrade our WAN for 20 locations from T1s to redundant DS3s (or better), to tell us what we need to run this $40M peice of software (about 76 servers it turned out).

There's enough technical work to be fun, enough control to be satifying, and enough really smart people working with me who are experts in each of THEIR fields, but I'm responsible for the overall architecture, budget, schedule, and any problems during and post implementation. We form a team, work together, I document what we plan to do, how much, how long, and present it to upper management for approval/rejection. The end customer usually works a business case, unless this is something like an email server migration, or other enterprise infrastructure project.

And the paycheck isn't bad either.

An awful lot of "doesnt work" replies (2, Insightful)

StewedSquirrel (574170) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832843)

There are an awful lot of "that doesn't work" sort of replies, but I'd beg to differ.

The jobs are MUCH harder to find than specialized jobs, because you'll be working for a small firm- a startup, or some other limited size organization. They wont' be the ones posting on - craigslist, maybe, but not the big job sites.

If you don't find anything by casually looking around, you might want to get creative and inventive. I landed a job once by directly approaching the owner of a company who was growing 300% per year and selling the idea of "do it right from the start" sort of IT approach. Actually, it was a 6 month contract with the option to hire me at the end (which I refused, even though he wanted me). I set up Active Directory, established policies and procedures, built up their infrastructure, data storage, accounting and upgraded their workstations. I built their website into something useful instead of boring and empty and I built a helpdesk that could help manage the company as it grew bigger.

I'm currently "IT Director" for a small company. I only have one person working for me, but I'm paid alright. I think folks are right when they say that generalists have a salary cieling. It's a unfortunate truth that unless I'm willing to go into corporate middle-management where I could potentially make a ton of money, but be busy in board meetings and very rarely get my hands dirty, I'm stuck with a 5-figure salary. High 5-figures, but still stuck. However, within a startup, you can position yourself as a driver of ideas and perhaps end up in upper management as the company grows. There are additional benefits such as stock options, profit sharing and such, that are not available to your average specialized techie within the corporate world.

The stock options from my previous employer are starting to look very tantalizing as there are rumors of a buyout or IPO circulating. Suddenly, 10,000 shares begins to look like $500,000 and my time stuck behind a $70k salary quickly begins to morph into an actual paycheck of more than $200k per year, but on the other hand, a poor startup can end up costing you money as you find yourself working without pay now and then when money is tight, only to see the company fold just as you are expecting a Christmas bonus.

Fortunately, my recent experience has set me up as a bit of a security specialist and I've begun to do some contract work for a large security company, deploying firewalls, security appliances and such. This job, if i were to take it full time, would definitely be a 6-figure opportunity and would lead to potential future contracts with customers that often pay 6-figures for 6 months of work doing highly specialized security deployment and management.

A few tips (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19832901)

First of all, be as detailed as possible in your resume. I was in the market for a new job about a year ago and I have a little over a decade of IT experience. In that time I've done Novell, Windows, databases, security, servers, workstations, networks (WAN/LAN), blah blah blah. I tried to condense it all down into a single page resume. Eventually I talked to a tech recruiter and he summed up my resume by saying, "You have ten plus years of experience but a single page resume? You need more detail." So like others have already suggested here, point out specifics. I spent my last seven years a consultant. In that seven years I racked up a HUGE list of accomplishments and once I sat down and started to bullet point those accomplishments, the resume grew to the size that it should have been.

To rehash what others have said, you basically have two options... General purpose IT guy for a small company, or consulting. If I were you, I'd look at consulting. I think that any company in their right mind would be hesitant to turn over all of their IT operations to a guy who just came out of college. They are going to want someone with experience in the business world. The person who lands the JOAT position in a small shop needs some managerial experience, and proven skills when it comes to project management and interacting with other executives.

The consulting company that I left to work at my current position would be a perfect fit for you. They do general purpose IT consulting for small/medium sized businesses. They need a person who they can throw into the deep end of the pool who won't drown and won't bring down the systems while trying to troubleshoot the problem. Competent IT consulting shops are a lot like plumbers... there are a lot of them, but there are few competent ones. Therefore the competent ones are always up to their eyeballs in work and are often times looking for help. For what it's worth my boss found my replacement on Craigslist of all places. When I was searching around for jobs, I found that Dice was pretty tech recruiter biased and very position specific. They weren't looking for JOAT people. They were looking for "Systems Admin Level II" kind of positions.

You sound like any-old sysadmin I've known (1)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833015)

Most sysadmins are jack-of-all-trades, so really your skills aren't out of the ordinary at all. In fact, they seem a bit lacking. I am a programmer by trade, however, I am also a hardcore networking enthusiast (should have gone for my CCIE when I had the chance) as well as Windows/UNIX sysadmin (for a few years of my career I was a NT admin).

If you really want to fatten your resume, you should beef up your networking expertise because that seems to be your weak point. No one cares about video conferencing specialist. Get your CCIE (probably the only cert that has any meaning whatsoever).

As to career path, depending on how young you are, take a crappy low-level job at a big company like a bank where you can get exposure to a lot of different technologies, but specialize in networking. Networking will always be crucial. If you want maybe sysadmin stuff, however, sysadmin work might just be relegated to India going forward.

Meh (3, Funny)

noz (253073) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833235)

You don't have 3 years .NET experience with RUP and Agile development methodologies. Forget it.

Systems Integration (1)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833239)

Many of the defense contractors have a group of systems integrators, who have the job of taking the high level designs that the systems engineers come up with and actually doing the implementation. It's a really fun job to start out your career, since you'll get to travel around the country and around the world doing a lot of challenging work.

Another option is a field engineer. Many times, different remote jobs don't have the budget to hire a slew of specialists, and need a person who can deal with sysadmin work, but also do hardware troubleshooting, and general "anything to keep the system running" work. They'll know a little bit about everything in the system.

Big or Small (2, Insightful)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833849)

You really didn't specify what kind of company you prefer. And the answer to your question will come down to that particular preference.

If you want a job in any Mid-Enterprise ($200M to $1B annual revenue) size company or above, you will generally *NOT* be a jack of all trades. These companies generally have HR personnel, and are big enough that managers are generally not plopping down on and finding resumes. As such, any HR person or recruiter is going to cull resumes (no matter where they get them from) based on a few keywords. If their looking for a NOC technician, they'll search for network, monitoring, Cisco (or whatever the infrastructure is) and maybe a few other key pieces (CiscoWorks, etc.). If they find a resume with those keywords duplicated a few times, especially over a few jobs, they'll pass it on to the hiring manager. If they don't see those words, they generally just bit-bucket it and move on.

As such, as many other have mentioned, if you are looking at any larger organization, you need to target your resume to a real job. Sending in resume's randomly not knowing what jobs are open won't work. Sure, they'll have a policy that resume's submitted need to be kept on file for X months, but my experience is that older stuff, which isn't fresh in the persons mind, just never gets dredged up.

For full disclosure, my company does IT staffing, although I'm not in that portion of the business. However, I've now seen that from the inside and out, and every company we work with, and every staffing firm we work with, they all work the same way.

Now, if you're going for a small company, with fewer than 100 employees and not much in the way of critical needs, then you can play the jack of all trades and get away with it. These companies can't/won't afford an expert in each technology, and mostly need someone with enough knowledge to keep the running on a day to day basis, as well as plan for the future as it comes along. However, such jobs can be a pain (you'll never know when you'll simply get deluged with 20 broken laptops in one day right after the email server gets hit with a spam onslaught and the local phone company suddenly decided to route your main DID number to another county. And they can also cause stress in the sense that in many of those companies you'll be close enough to top management that you'll be forced to interact with them, but many, if not all, won't have a clue about what you do. Justifying upgrades can be a real pain in the a$$, and the overtime can get old.

I have a good friend who works for a fairly famous small firm here in my town. He's the go-to guy for everything more complicated than an electrical pencil sharpener. The smartest thing he ever did was go to the owner early on and let her know that there were some things he couldn't do, some things he wouldn't do, and there were times when he wasn't going to be able to do them. For each of these things, he gave her a strategy for supporting them (say, having service contracts on ultra-high end printers, or having a local company that could provide on-site and phone support when he went on vacation a few times a year.

So it really depends on what you want, and what kind of company. You have to tailor your resume and job search to that segment.

And remember: the best jobs never get posted on the internet, but get snapped up via word of mouth within days of someone deciding they're going to hire someone. Never, ever underestimate the power of networking and talking and keeping in contact with people from your past.


I fit the bill.. (1)

geniusj (140174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833963)

I've been where you are and have found something out along the way. Specializing in a problem or set of problems will net you more than specializing in specific technologies. I personally specialize in architecture scalability largely in the web 2.0 sphere. It is something that requires fairly extensive knowledge of (and being able to design and implement) many technologies including systems, networks, storage, databases and code. Consulting marketed towards specific sets of problems might be your solution. Once you gain that kind of reputation, you won't be worrying about employment for a long time.

Go to a professional resume writer (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19833997)

List all the schtuff you know and have done and send it to a professional resume writer. You won't like the result at all, but it is not meant for you, it is meant for the human resources manager that is standing between you and the job you want. Try this place: [] You'll find the resume writers there too. It works. Believe me!

ROI (1)

piranhas (800042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834145)

Talk about how you saved somebody money and/or how you used technology to make people more productive. When you describe how you contributed to an organization you show that you know how to add value to an organization. Listing a half of a page of technologies does not say much about your ability to produce results.

Network Specialist (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834163)

Although you see yourself as a Jack of All Trades (Master of None), what you are really doing is connecting any and all kinds of computer systems together - Windows, Linux, Sun, Telephones, Video, ISDN, TCP/IP, Satcom, yadda, yadda - and integrating them into a working system. Sir, you are a Network Specialist. Market yourself as a Network Administrator. The reality is that there are many people like you out there, but most of them are not very good at it, since most don't know Jack about anything...

Be careful what you wish for (1)

kc7cfk (240218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834331)

I provide user support in a medium-sized goverment enterprise. My users expect me to provide support for all things electrical, up to and including electric staplers, pencil sharpeners and personal space heaters! (Always fun to find those plugged into the same surge protector as their CPU...) Jack of all trades indeed.

Networking... (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834487)

And, no, not the kind that computers use. I'm wondering why no one has mentioned networking yet.

Some know just how to work HR, but I find I can't cold call on the typical HR weenie. They aren't geeks-- they don't care about technical stuff. They have extremely narrow views, and will dismiss as bragging and puffing up anything that doesn't fit their assumptions about what is possible. Might even count against you because they'll think you're lying. And they won't test you because they can't, they lack the imagination or knowledge. Or they'll do the "anything I don't understand can be done in six minutes" assessment and will totally fail to see the significance, difficulty, and greatness of some accomplishment. And count it against your communication skills if you try to explain, because you should've made it clear on the resume. Besides, they've got hundreds of resumes to get through for 2 or 3 positions. Short shrift is common and necessary. How exactly to tailor a resume for this arbitrary environment I've never figured out.

The best way is through recommendations. Get a trusted person's glowing recommendation, and skip right past HR to someone who has a need and so isn't going to fool around, can hire, and does have a clue. The resume is then just a list of the things you'd like to do, still needed, but no longer a target for a dart throwing contest.

System Administrator position in Los Angeles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19834841)

ultimatemonty, we are a small software development company in Torrance, CA (Los Angeles area) and we have a really hard time finding a qualified system administrator. Send me your resume: zpdixon at if you are in the Los Angeles area or willing to relocate. This is a serious request. We have Linux/OpenBSD/Windows servers, Windows/Linux workstations, we rely on and believe in open source, we buy and build most machines from newegg, the ambiance is great, and we are growing.

So send me your resume (or anybody else who is interested in this position).

Re:System Administrator position in Los Angeles (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834971)

You didn't even bother to log in. How is he supposed to trust some anonymous stranger with his personal information?


Re:System Administrator position in Los Angeles (1)

this great guy (922511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835319)

I moderated in that thread, hence my AC post. But blowing off the 2 points I spent is definitely a reasonable price to pay to find a decent sysadmin, assuming it can help people believe in the offer. -- zpdixon at

Re:System Administrator position in Los Angeles (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835795)

's no worse than posting your CV on

Market yourself as a specialist, first (1)

VeryVito (807017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19834923)

I found myself in the same boat a few years ago, and rather than seek the low-paying, junior desk jockey jobs, I created a different resume for each field in which I was interested. They all listed the same positions, but played up specific aspects of each past job. For instance, if a potential employer was looking for a Linux guru to run a server farm, I listed my admin duties at the top of the bullet stack for my dot-com IT position, and followed them with a final "Other duties include graphic design, web programming and ferret farming." If the target employer was seeking Java development skills, however, I played that experience up first, and listed the network administration duties among the "other duties." Don't apply for jobs you don't think you're competent to perform, of course, but don't sell your skills in any particular field short if you know those are the ones they want to see (and you're qualified to do). Truth is, I've never seen an IT job (or wanted to see one) that ONLY required one skill. If you're a decent programmer and a quick learner, for example, it doesn't take long for you to become the expert your resume makes you out to be.

Two words... (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835423)

Help desk

From a guy who was once in your position (2, Interesting)

OddlyMoving (1103849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19835613)

As much as everyone's telling you to specialize, play up a certain aspect of your resume, I say forget it.

Bill yourself as the guy who can do everything. More importantly, convey your ability to learn new things, how flexible you are and how you can cut across different areas of knowledge and come up with novel solutions. But most of all, let them know you're the guy to go to. That you can be responsible for a project and see it through.

I started out in a small shop working for an extremely smart guy who believed in my potential. And while I left after six months, and went through a series of jobs where I fell in to half through dumb luck, the other half by marketing myself the way I told you to, and a myriad of consulting jobs picked up by both reputation and more dumb luck ... I ended up right back where I started, 10 years later. I've taken all the experience I learned along the way, in project management, in working with large scale systems, working with server farms, starting a business, developing products and even all the little grunt work in between and am applying it all at the company I first started out at. I'm highly compensated now and my future's pretty well set.

What did take awhile to develop was the attitude and the accumulated experience to get recognized. It mostly happened for me around year 7 - everything began to change. Not only was I starting to look at work not as something to be suffered through and where I was underappreciated - but that it was a place where I could benefit by 1) making money 2) learn how to take care of business and 3) execute. This is also when the big money offers started to come in, for strange sounding or odd positions you can't find a million people to fill such as Technical Account Manager, Operations Expert etc.

Looking to hit a small shop where you're the jack-of-all-trades IT manager might not be a bad place to start. It'll help get you get used to being responsible to a T.

Always remember: you will be limited only by your imagination and the integrity you keep not only with others, but with yourself. Good luck.
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