[oclug] [OT] Jobsearch 101
rod at giffinscientific.com
rod at giffinscientific.com
Fri Aug 9 10:13:20 EDT 2002
Resumes are the starting point for your job search. How you write your resume, and what you do with it have a direct bearing on whether or not you are going to get an interview.
Just to drill it in, your resume has approximately 15 seconds to attract the attention of a hiring manager, before they do something called "filtering". If your resume is filtered, sometimes you will receive a message saying "thanks but no thanks - but we'll keep your resume on hand for 6 months". What this means is, "I've tossed your resume in the trash bin, and don't bother me for at least 6 months."
During that 15 seconds, the manager will scan the first page of your resume and look for only two things: A reason to keep it, and reasons to throw it. Note the wording of that. They only need one reason to keep your resume, but it can be thrown for any number of reasons. This means by the way that if you give a reason to filter it out, before they get to the reason to keep it, it will most likely be filtered.
1) Length of the resume
More than 2 pages long. A hiring manager doesn’t have time to take in that much information, so use your 15 seconds wisely. Try to use Times New Roman 12, 11, or at the absolute minimum 10 point, but if you do use a small font, use lots of bullets to create white space. By the way, if you have a 1 page resume, don’t force it to be a 2 page resume by writing all sorts of nonsense.
2) Resume Sections and Layout
Sections and/or critical information missing from a resume are important. There are only 3 mandatory parts to a resume.
a. The first is the personal identification section, which generally uses your name as its title. This should include your complete address, including postal code, and at least 2 methods of reaching you. Telephone and e-mail are the most common. Cell phone is good if you have one. Pagers numbers are out unless it has voice mail with a personalised message. So are fax numbers. Look, how many people do you know who ever heard of a job interview by fax or pager? So, why put that on your resume? However, you’d be amazed by how many people leave section off of a resume.
b. The second mandatory part to your resume is the OBJECTIVE section. It is also the single most neglected section of a resume. What job are you applying for? This is the first thing a hiring manager is going to be looking for when they glance at your resume. If it’s not there, you have a big chance that your resume will find its way to the filter heap.
c. The third and final mandatory section is an EXPERIENCE section. Ok, I want to let you in on a little secret here. The duties you performed? Hiring managers don’t really care about them. In fact, generally they KNOW what the duties of a gardener are, if they’re looking for a gardener. Spend only 1 or 2 sentences describing your duties, especially if there was something out of the ordinary that was in your responsibilities. What you need to spend time on here is on your accomplishments. More about that in the section 3.
All other parts of your resume are optional. Please include them all if you have something to enter in them. If not, leave them out altogether.
EDUCATION: This can come before Experience, but only if you have less than 3 years experience. If you are a recent graduate, you can spend some time describing what you did in school. This section essentially can become a replacement for the lack of work experience. Otherwise, it goes last, and contains only one line (Ok, maybe 2) for each institution you attended. If you don’t have any post-secondary education, you can list your high school if you like. Notice this is in the optional section. That’s because you can leave it off entirely, if you have experience and no relevant education. No point in drawing attention to a shortcoming now is there?
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/INTERESTS: This (These) optional section(s) is(are) also important if you’ve done any professional development, or belong to any professional organisations. Er… unless you’re a board member, OCLUG does not qualify. If you have an MCSE, CCNA or whatnot certification, this is the section to list it in. Never use postfix titles in your name unless you have the legal right to use them. Many people with postfix titles like JOHN D. DUMMY, MCSE, CCNA, ID10T just annoy people who have legitimate titles which are recognised by an Act of Parliament, not Cisco or Microsoft.
REFERENCES: By the way, don’t write your references in your resume. The line “References are available upon request” will suffice. For heaven’s sake, get your references permission PRIOR to using them. Bring a sheet with your references to the interview, or send it separately on request.
But there are some sections that have absolutely NO place in a resume. Remember those 15 seconds and the many reasons for tossing a resume?
Personal Interests: This is out. It does not prove anything.
Summary: Your resume IS a summary. You don’t need to summarise a summary, it’s just a waste of space.
Personal Details: Employers don’t care if you were born in Canada, or France, and have a SIN number at the time they’re reading your resume. If your address section says you live in Ottawa Ontario, they’ll generally figure out that you live in Canada. Where you were born has nothing to do with anything. And if you don’t have a SIN number, either you’re an illegal alien, or you’re too young to work – either way we’ll figure that out if we decide to hire you.
Any other section that does not deal directly with your experience or qualifications for a job does not belong in your resume.
3) Resume style
Use what’s called Third Person Impersonal style when writing a resume. I’m not sure if that’s the “official” way of saying it. Generally in your resume, avoid the use of pronouns that refer to yourself. Write it in a way where you would say “he” or “she”, and remove the pronouns. The sentences may have to be re-worked in order to use this style. Bullets help, so use them.
You also want to spend time building up your accomplishments, not your duties. I’ve already outlined that this is easy to do when writing in third person impersonal style. What it tends to do is give you an opportunity to turn duties into accomplishments.
Skills based resumes are a legitimate resume style, but if you elect to use a skills based resume format, completely separate skills from your experience, and do not repeat yourself. This also falls under the heading of using your 15 seconds wisely. Repeated information is simply a waste of space. It doesn’t give the reader any new useful information.
Ok, so now you have a 2 page resume, which contains an personal identification section, objective, experience, and is written in a legible font size so that nobody has to squint. You didn’t repeat yourself, and you have changed mundane things you did in your past so that you deliver a little bit of punch with your resume. There are a hundred other points that I could write here, but this is a topic that can become a book.
What next? Flog it to 10,000 companies and see what falls out? No. That’s the wrong way to use your resume. More on that next.
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