Starving Resumes Left Behind

A Resume Communicates ability!

I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few successful actions and tips for authoring or updating resumes. These tips ought to help better capture the attention of your audience, hiring managers or recruiters.  Additionally, I really want to call out some false and damaging information floating around the internet.

The essence and basics of a good resume is about communication.  Simply, this communication really ought to convey you, your abilities and certainly your passions.

How to Begin

When creating from scratch, overhauling, or perhaps rolling through some minor tweaks, prior to pounding away on the keyboard, take a moment to review these tips. Although no claims are made herein to have captured every detail of resume writing, you nonetheless will find several key fundamental points worth reviewing and certainly applying.

First off; for your part, be absolutely certain to tackle your resume with a complete fresh disposition.  Avoid the ‘quickly knock it out’ approach.  This could inadvertently underrate or misrepresent YOU.

With every resume edit, perhaps monthly or annually, seek to improve it like never before. Slot out some real one-on-one time to dig in.  Start by rereading it top to bottom. Approach this resume visit as something totally fresh, in a brand new unit of time. Put everything else away.

Prior to laying your hands on the keyboard, adopt an amazing and positive point of view of yourself.  Through words, you will be painting your canvas.

Successful resumes truly communicate personal and professional ability.  It conveys passion. It needs to represent who you are, and you’re capabilities.  It ought to demonstrate passion and competence.

Don’t Dos

Flippantly stating “I am the best canvas and oil painter in all of Columbia” might not create the desired effect.

On the other hand, laboriously listing out A-L-L your tools-of-trade certainly won’t create that desired effect either – such as ‘I know: paint brushes, canvases, and chemicals’ (nouns).  At the end of the day, this can leave a resume starving for content, and very very flat – after all, ‘things‘ (nouns) are incapable of performing or doing a single thing without the artist or the engineer – You!

Nouns unfortunately are unable to convey ability or passion. Although and certainly an important aspect, resumes should never exclusively focus on the things nor knowledge of the trade. Nouns are simply unable to demonstrate skill or competence.  Things (nouns) will never sell without demonstrating value.

How should a resume communicate?

Personal and professional ability should always shine brightly in your resume.  It should be a self-portrait.  A self-portrait of YOU.

Often resumes are found to exclusively focus on the tools-of-trade (nouns).  In Information Technology (IT), talent commonly punches up their resume with impressive technology (nouns) ignoring the most important aspects:

  • Actions
  • More Actions

Four (4) out of five (5) resumes can be counted on to be starved of details, containing lists upon lists of their tools-of-trade, lacking any sort of context or description for how these were put to use, or what they were used for.  You might note these resumes include all the versions of Linux, Windows or Network firewalls, along with other technologies (nouns).  In development, you will undoubtedly discover many resumes replete with impressive repertoires of every coding language.  But where’s the description of what YOU performed?

Certainly, and over-stressing the point, the tools-of-trade should NEVER be the focus of a resume.

First and foremost, the premise of a well-written resume primarily involves action(s) (verbs).  A resume’s focus point should always show or demonstrate ‘doingness‘.  Start by writing down wha’cha did.  Keep it really simple.

Not to over complicate it, but In its simplest sense, a project or job is made up of a series of actions, sometimes many.  These actions affect or impact something or another (nouns), but never the other way.  Jokingly, a car (noun) doesn’t drive itself.

Taking a step back, in a resume, an action (verb) should beget accomplishment (nouns) and achievements (nouns). Reversely, an accomplishment (noun) is the result of an action (verb) or series of achievements (nouns).  An achievement (noun) begins with an action (verb).  As a decent rule of thumb, a balanced resume ought to primarily focus on actions, or combination actions.

In your action or accomplishment descriptions, reference your tools-of-trade you used and/or implemented.

Of course, we all want to communicate what we know.  However, knowledge can be perceived as a personal possession (noun) versus something you are (professional), or something you do (verb).  Nothing communicates ability better than action. Action demonstrates competence.  From competence comes success.

Be warned of the advise that resumes should never exceed 2 pages. This is 100% completely false. As long as you’ve practiced brevity, and perhaps where appropriate used smaller font face, create a many pages needed to shine bright.

Be warned of the advise that resumes should never exceed 2 pages. This is 100% completely false. As long as you practice brevity, and perhaps where appropriate use a smaller font face, create as many pages to shine bright.

As a caveat though, long-winded and flat resumes containing lists of technologies which don’t communicate should never be published.  These type of resumes waste time.

Technical Tips:

It is good to use bullets for lists of items.  However, bullets or lists need to be balanced with details:

  • Add all your personal information at the top.  If you have a LinkedIn page, throw it in there too.
  • Projects consist of 50% business & personal skills. Aside from technical skills, your business & personal skills remain a critical element in demonstrating other key and desired skills or abilities (e.g. managing tasks, defining goals, working with others, planning details, etc.)
  • Practicing brevity, from a 1,000 foot view, draft a paragraph or two capturing your technical and business skills.  This could include your logic or problem solving process.  This should be a description of you.
  • Create a section, somewhere near the top of your resume, for your technologies (nouns). Categorizing these into groups: e.g. Security, Automation, Infrastructure, etc.
  • Job Section:
    • For each job or project, include a summary and description containing:
      • project detail(s)
      • goal(s)
      • deliverables
    • For each job or project include: (not in the following order)
      • duties
      • successes
      • milestones and workstreams (optional)
  • Engineers tend to carry or hold concurrent responsibilities.  Please add some color around these
  • Include your certifications toward the bottom
  • If employment history becomes too extensive for your resume, maintain these details in another document.  Also make a note that further employment details are available upon request
  • If you have a successful method of communicating your skills and ability, stick with it.

Additional Tips:

  • A resume can be longer than 2 pages.  It is false that a resume cannot be longer.
  • In resumes, you do not have to 100% adhere to grammar. However, there can’t be obviously mistakes (e.g. incorrect tenses)
  • In resumes, pronouns like ‘I’, ‘me’, or ‘myself’ are assumed and not necessary. Avoid using ‘we’ as it takes focus off you. It also takes up valuable space.
  • Avoiding using trite descriptive words such as adjectives, adverbs etc. (e.g. very, big, highly, funny, difficult, etc.).  In rare cases (sparingly), use such descriptive words to describe a situation or the subject. (e.g. performed a discovery of a complex pattern of redundant pool pumps). – see example below
  • Real estate space is valuable.  Do not waste it with unnecessary or trivial details. Seek to remove redundant works. Practice strict brevity, but not at the expense of underselling your skills
  • Each section is a mini-story about your duties and successes
  • Orient your audience to your mini-story
  • Maintain version history
  • Keep it simple

Example

 

Incorrect Correct
One of my main job duties consisted of cleaning the company pool. I was asked to improve efficiency.  It took me two weeks of hard work to perform a discovery of all the different aspects of this environment. To improve efficiency, main duties consisted of cleaning the company pool.  Performed a two week detailed discovery of environment.