Rands In Repose: A Glimpse and a Hook
I just read this post, you should read it too. It’s a great follow up to my earlier post about college CS resumes. I agree with “rands” (not his real name) on a lot of what he said, so rather than rehash, I’ll offer how I do things differently…
Your Name. It’s simple. Do I know you? Whether I do or not, I’m going to immediately Google you to see if I should. Oh, you a have a weblog. Excellent.
I may google you eventually, but I usually won’t bother until I’m setting up a screening call. Then, I only care if you’ve posted about something relative to software development, or if your name is familiar.
Company Names. Do I recognize any companies that you worked at? If I do, I don’t look at what you actually do, I assume that if I recognize the company, I’m in the ballpark. If I don’t know the company, I scan for keywords in the description to get a rough idea. Hmmmmm… networking words. Ok, you’re a networking guy.
yeah, this is pretty spot-on. I will add that if I know someone at a company you used to work at, I might ping that person to see if they knew you.
Other Interests and Extracurriculars. Yeah, this is part of the first pass. I’m eagerly looking to find something that makes you different from the last fifty resumes I looked at. More on this in a moment.
I totally disagree here. If I see “Other Interests and Extracurriculars”, I see “Resume Filler”
Skills. I skip the skills section not only because this is information I’ll derive from job history, but also because this section is full of misinformation. I’m not going to say that people lie in the skills section, but I know that if a candidate has heard the word Linux in the workplace, there’s a good chance they’re going to put Familiarity with Linux as a skill on their resume.
I totally disagree with this as well. If you have the skills, but not the job experience, I’ll assume that you don’t have the skills. If you have both, expect to get a lot of questions about the listed skills in the screening call. As I said previously, “Don’t list it if you can’t back it up.”
School. Yeah, this is the first time I’ll notice whether you went to college or not. I purposely do this because I’ve found over years of hiring that a name brand university biases my opinion too early. There’s a lot to be said for a candidate who gets accepted to and graduates from Stanford or MIT, but I’ve made just as many bad hires from these colleges as great ones.Seeing a non-Computer Science degree is not a warning flag. In fact, I’m a huge fan of hiring physics majors as engineers. For whatever reason, the curriculum for physics has a good intersection with computer science. Any technical major for me is perfectly acceptable, and even non-technical majors with a technical job history make for a resume worth thinking about.
I agree that once you’ve been in the industry for a while, your education isn’t nearly so relevant. The fewer years you have been out of school the more relevant a data-point it is. Same with your major. Some of the best programmers I know were music majors. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, your major isn’t really important. If you are coming straight out of college, it is pretty critical.
Never include a cover letter. I don’t read them. Recruiters don’t pass them on. Make sure the key points of your cover letter are living in your career objective and your job history.
Include seemingly irrelevant experience. This applies mostly to college types who lack experience in high technology. You’re going to stress that your job history doesn’t include any engineering and you’re thinking your summer working at Borders bookstore is irrelevant. It’s not. Any job teaches you something. Even though you weren’t coding in C++, I want to know what you learned by being a bookseller. Was it your first job? What did you learn about managers? How did you grow from the beginning to the end of the summer? Explain to me how hard work is hard no matter what the job is.
Sorry, but I don’t care what other jobs you’ve had unless they are relevant to the job I’m interviewing you for. If you’ve been in another industry and you switched over to engineering, that would be relevant, maybe.
The comments to that post were really interesting. Some more good tips and a lot of people calling “rands” a jerk. I can understand if you’ve been passed up for a lot of jobs how you might dislike this kind of advice, but man ‘o man, I wish that someone had told me some of this when I was younger. That is why I post about it too. This is stuff that can help you, if you agree with it or not. Something interesting here is how he and I diverge. It shows you that all hiring managers look at different things. Does that help? Probably not. It probably confuses, but at least you have some more insight. I’m sure that there are a zillion more posts like this on-line. Read them all and distill the best advice for yourself.
One more point: unlike “Rands”, I read every line of every resume. Some, I may skim more than others (especially if I have a pile to get through), but I know what it is like to be on the other side. I would hope that most other hiring managers would have the same courtesy.