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Advice on Applying for a Job

Molly Struve (she/her) on January 23, 2020

Over the years I have reviewed a lot of dev job applications and resumes and done a ton of interviews with dev candidates. Looking back on all of i... [Read Full]
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I agree. Lately my company had an interview with a guy, my CTO tried to ask him something beyond his knowledge, and expect he would say "I don't know", but no, he talked shit about it and of course, he failed.

 

How do you know what to put in a resume & what to leave out?

Most job descriptions I have read recently are either extremely vague (develop high quality software complying with industry best practices) or ask for experience in every technology the company uses.

Trying to create a single resume to get past the electronic submission system and be pleasing to the human it may reach has been extremely difficult. Especially since current HR policies provide no feedback on why you were rejected or by whom (person or computer).

Any ideas on how to beat keyword scanning but still be concise?

 

I don't have any advice on that front because as I said in the post, I always go straight to a human. Even if it means looking someone up from the company on LinkedIn and emailing them my resume.

 

If it's on your resume be ready to talk about it. I can't tell you how many times I have asked someone about a skill on their resume and they reply, "Well, I have only ever read a blog post on that" or "I worked with that once 5 years ago." To me, that looks deceitful. I would rather you not have it on your resume, to begin with. Furthermore, if you are asked about a technology you are not familiar with I would rather you admit you are not familiar with it than trying to pretend you are.

While I agree it can look deceitful, I can also see how it might be necessary to get your foot in the door to get an interview. I think it is a symptom of the broken hiring processes in tech. An example might be a 10-year Java developer that is applying for a C# job. Maybe they used C# on a small project a while back or they are actively working on a personal project with it, but do not have nearly the same amount of experience as Java. Whether they "know" C# is debatable, but I think they could easily pick it up. If they only list Java and not C# on their resume, chances are they will be automatically rejected from companies, even if a human is reading the application. In-house recruiters may not know that Java and C# are similar and the recruiter was tasked with finding a C# developer. Does it make the Java developer a bad candidate? I would say no. Should that Java developer be locked into using Java for the remainder of their career? I would also say no.

There could be a coding test and they can complete it using C# without a problem. If they make it past the screening and get an interview, will C# trivia be the best approach to legitimize the candidate? They have already proven they can write C# in the code screening. I think I would be more interested in learning about how they approach problems and work with others than the specific ins-and-outs of a certain technology.

Only listing what you are an expert in could limit your opportunities or pigeonhole you into working with a particular technology that you may no longer want to use. It can make experienced developers feel like imposters all over again.

 

Wondering what your thoughts are on number of pages for a resume?

I think forcing yourself to keep to one page has the same benefit as your comment on two columns - limiting space holds you accountable for only listing the important things.

 

I would 100% agree! Personally, when I get a multi-page resume my heart drops a little because usually what is important on the resume could have fit on one page and saved me a lot of time of having to figure out what is important and what is not.

 

Ok, but what about people transferring into coding who actually have two pages worth of jobs? Should these people filter out "non-relavent" older jobs to fit the imaginary one page limit? I think one page is fine if you graduated in 2018, but should it be a mold?

I would nudge people to check out my personal website to read more. But the problem you mention is real. Many of us are well into our careers and being concise ends up meaning you throw a lot away.

Personally, I think you should filter out "non-relevant" jobs from your resume. Anything that doesn't demonstrate your ability to do the job you are applying for, get rid of it. I always tailor my resume for the position I am applying so that it highlights what that position is looking for. By doing this it is easier to keep it to a single page.

So are you saying to use a non-chronological approach to building a resume. That means there may be gaps in the dates and jobs listed on a resume. How would you suggest explaining those to a perspective employer? Is there a difference between tailoring a resume and leaving items off?

Which brings up a different set of questions. Is it ethical to leave 10 yrs off a resume b/c it may not seem relevant to a specific job title. That's a ligit question. Is it deceptive to appear 5-10 or 15 yrs younger on paper than when you arrive? What can or should a person leave off their resume?

I like the website. But does your site supersede the need for a resume? Is that your point? I'm not sure.

 

I have to admit I am a little disheartened by your statement, ...your heart drops when you see 2 pagers. Some ppl are proud of their career path no matter its diversity. I thought in this multi-cultural multi-viewpoint time diversity was beneficial.

Instead I seem to be hearing one size Should fit all. I have to say I am more than disappointed by this viewpoint. Should we not be striving for inclusivity? I wonder if you confusing resume "stuffing" versus longevity.

At some point I feel like what you're describing as longevity becomes resume stuffing.

Think of a resume as an advertisement. Would you be more likely to buy something from an ad that says "this product solves this problem" or from an ad that makes you dig through paragraphs of information to figure out what the product is supposed to do?

 

You should also print your resume at least once yourself, to make sure it looks good and is readable on paper as well.

I personally have got all of it on mine, colour, two-column-layout, font variation (having a design background myself, that's probably not that surprising) and I keep mine limited to one page. If it doesn't fit on a single page you don't need the information as your first impression.
You can always talk about that stuff later or you can put it on your portfolio or your profiles (as you'll be googled after anyway). 😁

 

LOVE that advice about printing your resume out once. Good call!

 

Nice reading Molly. In my experience, the color advice is quite dangerous.

I rather have a black and white resume with good typography and decent layout than one of those abominations in the name of creativity. I used to run a small design agency, and still keep a few of those, which I show to my students as an example of what you should not do, ever, in your CV to apply for a job.

But I understand what you mean about a bit of color, it really makes a difference, when used correctly.

All in all, great advices in general, thanks for writing this.

 

Do you have any examples of an excellent and very bad resume? That would be really fantastic to get insights 🙂

 
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Something to think about in regards to color is to use a small amount of the company's color.

For example, what color do you think of when I say "T-Mobile"? Probably Magenta. A small touch of that above the fold can go a long way to making the resume seem much more personalized for the company

 

Nowadays, when there are as many technologies as different types of workflows in organizations, it's almost guaranteed you will not be familiar with some technology 'X' particular company uses as part of their stack.

So, it's not always about knowing the 'X', but how fast you can pick up the 'X'.

 

This is really good advice. Thank you! Especially about being able to talk about any given item on the resume. I've been in a few rough interviews where the person couldn't explain something listed on their resume and it always turned out bad.

I've also noticed that once you get a few years of experience, how your resume looks matters less than how well you're able to articulate your value to the company or team that you want to join. This is why making a resume that's tailored for the position is really important.

 

I'm struggling with finding a remote Android job for a couple months now so I'm hoping this improves my chances, thanks a lot for the write up! ❤️❤️❤️

 

I'm agree with you when you talk about the skills, i remember my class colleagues when they wrote BI, Big Data and AI on their resume but we only saw that in classes 😅

 

Do you not want to hire people who have no opinions?

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