Thursday, January 7, 2010

IT Resume Advice

Another recruiting blog swap article. This is pretty sound resume advice and a good addition to the mix of resume information here on the Chelsea Recruiter Blog (see here, here, and here).

Article Title: Resume do's and don'ts for the IT Job Seeker
Author Byline: Laura Vezer is an IT recruiter and creator of the blog, IT Matters Canada! The blog contains resources and advice for IT Professionals looking for work in Canada.
Author Website: http://itmatterscanada.blogspot.com

Today I would like to offer you a few valuable tips on your resume. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen some resumes that have had really effective formatting, and some resumes that... well, could use some work.

In this post I will share with you some top tips that I like to see in a resume.

(Please remember that all resume readers have their own preferences, and I am no exception. I will try to remain as objective as possible. Please add your own favourites in the comment section below!)

Remember your target audience.

Your resume may travel through several sets of hands before reaching a technical hiring manger. Often a HR intern with little to no technical experience may be screening potential applicants. Can you imagine how confusing a generic technical resume could be to a fresh HR intern? If you feel that your resume could use clear keywords to help it get to a hiring manger, consult your recruiter. Recruiters are familiar with their clients internal hiring processes and can offer a wealth of information on how to effectively market your resume.

The easier your resume is to read, the more effective it will be.

Resumes are more often scanned rather than read. On average a client may take seven to twelve seconds before deciding to move onto the next resume. Having a resume that is detailed, easily readable, and truly sells your capabilities is the key to capturing their attention during that critical twelve seconds. Here are a few effective techniques to really give your resume an edge:

  • Keeping your resume to one font,
  • Formatting a 1.5 spacing between bullet points
  • Keeping your bullet points succinct, yet detailed enough to really highlight your abilities
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile to supplement your resume – the reader is likely to search for you anyway, why not make it easier for them
  • Creating a skills matrix in a table that highlights all your technical capabilities, from Networking through to coding languages, and rating your own ability. (example below)


TECHNOLOGYYEARS USEDRATING
Software Development
Java6 YearsExpert
.NET4 Years Intermediate
C#4 YearsIntermediate
Methodologies
Agile1 YearBeginner

Include a one to two sentence synopsis at the top of every job you have worked. This is a great introduction to the reader of who the company was that you worked for, and what you did there.

If anyone tells you that you must restrict your resume to two pages, don’t listen to them! Putting a two page limit on YOUR career will hinder you from selling your true abilities to the reader, and will put undue pressure on telling your story. I’m not saying to make a 20 page resume, but don’t be afraid if it goes to five or six pages. If it still reads simply and easily, go for it!

Don't be an job seeker wall flower! By submitting generic resumes, you will become invisible!

A generic resume to a specific job description will not maximize your chances of being picked out from the crowd of applicants a company might receive. By spending an extra ten minutes on tailoring your resume to the job description, you will be received by the reader as a great breath of fresh air amongst the stale boring generic resumes that were clicked over without a second thought.

To Whom it may concern? No thanks.

Don’t EVER send a cover letter addressed to “HR Director,” or “Dear Manager,” If there is not a name on the job ad, pick up your phone, call the company, and ask the receptionist who you should address your cover letter to. It will take 30 seconds, and will give you a leading edge by personalizing your application.

Location, Location, Location!

Don’t leave your location a mystery. If you don’t want to include your address, fine: but include your city of residence, and appropriate contact details so the reader can connect with you straight away.

What's your word count?

Don’t write an ‘essay resume.’ If your paragraphs are turning your resume into a memoir, I invite you to give your draft to a parent, relative or friend who is NOT in your field of expertise, and ask them to read and judge your resume in 10 seconds. If they struggle getting through the first page, you know you have written the beginning of your life story, and not your resume.

Finally, my last recommendation would be to ask for help. You will be amazed at the amount of knowledge your recruitment consultant has. Recruiters look at resumes every day, and see what works and what really doesn’t.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you would like me to read through your resume, and offer some tips to help make your resume more effective, please email me at itmatterscanada@gmail.com

Thanks and enjoy your week!

Laura

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Resume Tips - Beware!

So I thought it would be interesting to do a Google Blog search on Resume Tips to see what kind of advice is floating out there. Kids are told nowadays to be careful of the information you find on the internet, that it is not always reliable, and so forth. I've never thought about it too much...until now.

The first result was an article from Phlogger.net posted earlier today on "How to Make a Resume." The advice contained herein seemed to come straight out of a resume book from 1990, even down to using fancy paper. This article generally contains bad advice...here are some highlights:

"You will start with what your objective is and how it is you plan on benefiting this company."


While many resumes nowadays contain objectives, I generally find them useless. Everbody who is looking at a resume knows that your objective is to get a job with XYZ Company. If it is not, then you shouldn't be sending a resume. Furthermore, recruiters and hiring managers don't generally care what it is that you want to do, they want to find out whether your skills and experience are something that they need, not the other way around. An objective says "meet my needs." The article continues:

"After that, you move on to your employment history. You always want to ensure that you include all of your job duties here because even the smallest of duties may be relevant to this potential position. Do dont leave anything out."


Two things about this. First, your work history is not a list of job duties and should not read like a job description. I have honestly seen resumes that say "Other duties as assigned." Your work history should highlight your experience and accomplishments as they relate to your targeted company. This ties into the second point...your resume should be targeted to a specific company and position. A resume needs to include enough information to say "I can help solve your problem, invite me in for an interview and I'll tell you how."

"The next section of your resume is where you outline any relevant experience that you have, such as in volunteering. You will want to include any certifications or licensing that you may have. You never know when one of these items could be important. You never know what might impress a potential employer, so be sure to leave out nothing."


Okay, if you have volunteer work that is relevant to a position, fine, include it. But again, your potential employer really could care less that you walked dogs at the Humane Society. They want to know if you can solve their problems. I think you do know what might impress a potential employer: somebody who can solve the problem that they have that has led them to open a position.

"The reference section is the last part. You may decide to include your references on your resume. Some individuals do not like to include references, so they will provide them upon request."


Don't include references. Everybody assumes that you have references, so don't say "References available upon request" or anything like that. Your employer will ask for references when they are ready and assume that you have them. Although as a recruiter, I like references because they are potential candidates.

* * * * * * * * * *

Okay, this is exhausting. I was going to look at a few of these posts, but when the very first result is this bad, I have to break it down a little bit. The author runs a website that seems to be focused on selling a software package. When looking for resume advice, always consider the source, get as much advice as possible, and solicit advice from real people (recruiters, HR people) that will help you. Heck, I'll help you if you're in a bind...I do it every day for my candidates.

I'll try to write more about resumes in upcoming posts.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't send a resume!

I once thought it was a great idea to write a book on job-hunting that I would call "Don't Send a Resume!" or something to that effect. It only took a couple of minutes of research to find out that my idea had already been taken by this guy. I never read the book, but skimmed through it at my local Barnes & Noble and thought that he seemed to make things way more complicated than they needed to be.

I frequently tell job seekers that they should only send a resume when the person receiving the resume knows that it is coming. It will increase the likelihood that your resume will get looked at seriously by 100% (I made the percentage up, but the point stands). Not only will that person have a voice to connect to the resume, but you hopefully got a direct e-mail address to send it to rather than careers@company.com or whatever.

How do you go about doing this? It depends on your interest level in the position and the amount of time you want to invest. If you really want to make sure that you get noticed, you will do your research to try and find out who the actual hiring manager is, then call that person and at least leave a message "Hi, my name is Erwin and I am a Senior Oracle Programmer who has been involved in 5 implementations. I had a couple of questions about the open position at Company and was hoping for a couple of minutes of your time. Please call me at your convenience at 555-555-5555." You then hit 0 and ask the operator for manager's direct e-mail address and send your resume referencing your phone call. If you get Manager on the phone, you can just ask him for the e-mail.

If you cannot find the manager, you need to talk to HR, but make sure you ask who the specific recruiter is who is handling that specific position. Again, ask some question about the position ("I was wondering how much travel was going to be involved") or whatever, the point is to be able to introduce yourself, summarize your qualifications, and get an e-mail address to send a resume.

If you are a passive job seeker, you may not have time to do this (which is why you work with headhunters, who basically spend all day doing this), but it is well worth your while for any positions of interest. You will get more interviews and get them faster if you call before sending a resume.

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