A frequent and sometimes loathsome responsibility of mine is to pour over resumes when looking for enterprise developers – either for employee positions or contract positions. I say loathsome only because there are some really bad resumes that come through – I fear that bad smelling resumes are too common in the technical field. But people are important, so I actually think this is a very important responsibility of mine. I thought I would share some thoughts in hopes of improving my (and your) situation…
Do not put your laundry list of every tool you have ever touched at the top of your resume. Put this at the end. I skip right to experience because I want to see what you have done, not what you think you know or want to advertise.
Do not make your laundry list of tools take up more than 1/4 of a page – I have seen an entire page devoted to this and it’s ridiculous.
Do limit your resume to 3 pages – but the best candidates can produce a quality 2-page resume. Your resume needs to be human scannable and at a summary level; the purpose of interviews is to go into details.
Do explain what you did, but do it by explaining your responsibilities and how they related to the responsibilities of others on the team. You will likely be interacting with a lot of people in your new position, and you get points for showing that you get the fact that relating well on a team is crucial.
Do write with good grammar and communication skills. High quality communication is turning out to be a key differentiator in the current market.
Do seek the advice of a technical writer or another page layout specialist for good formatting on your resume. There is no Jalopy for your resume, and it needs to look better than your code if you want it to be scannable. (Clue: bolding and highlighting and underlining key words actually makes it harder to read.)
Do not include a career goal – I don’t know why, I just always thought that was weird.
Do not have a cover page – again, you should only have 2-3 pages total, and each one should be content-rich. (Clue: decreasing margins and using small fonts increases the volume of content but not its richness.)
Do know where to drawn the line on lying. Everyone exagerates on their resume, and I am not so naive to discourage that behavior. But be prepared to explain everything on your resume in an interview, and understand the difference between exageration and dishonesty.
Curious if others in my position also have thoughts to share on what you like or don’t like to see…