Actually, you really should dress like everyone else!

I was directed to the following article by my work buddy Client Development Manager, who could tell us some hair frizzing stories about the inappropriate and outlandish get-ups supposed professionals have worn to interviews.

This is not the business and economic climate in which you remain hell-bent on displaying your individuality -- that is, if you're serious about wanting a job so you can pay your bills. This is a time when you want to look (and smell!) your best, and present the most professional, conservative, conformative You as possible.


(special thanks to Charlotte Observer and Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star)


Just one more resume.....

While spending the weekend at our palatial country estate, my Trusty Sidekick and I happened upon a local TV broadcast where employment experts were offering advice on landing a job in today’s environment. A few points stuck in my mind, and I wanted to share them.

First, you must be extra aggressive and dogged in your current job search. If you’ve sent 50 resumes before landing an assignment in the past, you may have to send 150 resumes this cycle before receiving that offer. Call to ensure your resume was received. Do not assume that the only jobs available are the ones being advertised. And network, network, NETWORK!

Next, search your mind for how the skills you possess and the experiences you’ve accrued can be utilized differently from the way you’ve used them in the past. How can those business and technical skills you’ve used in the Financial Services industry translate into manufacturing or healthcare?

And (as has been stated before right here in these volumes) it’s important that your resume and application be truthful, no matter how tempting it is to overstate your proficiencies in order to impress a hiring manager. The penalties imposed if the embellishments are discovered could far outweigh any advancement the assignment would have brought.

Remember, keep plugging away, don't give up. As Louis Pasteur said: “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”


Your Own Visual Style

I recently learned about Visual CV (www.visualcv.com), which is an online secure site where professionals build turbo-charged resumes for use in assignment hunting, career development and networking.

These online CVs start with the data from your Word version resume, and after that it’s amazing what you can do! Attach photos, videos, examples of your work (presentations, documents, scanned materials, code, screen prints of your websites), keyword popups, letters from references, publications, commendations from your mother, whatevah!, etc., to create one or more versions of your public- or private-access Mother-of-all-Resumes.

That's right -- you can create multiple versions of private resumes online, which you can send as a link to potential employers, while keeping all other versions private. You control presentation and access.

And best of all – it’s free!

Visual CV is not a resume database, a job posting site, or a networking site. What it is, is a website where you can keep your resume online and posted all the time with no timestamps telling readers how long it’s been there, where you can keep it up to the minute, and where you can provide potential employers a depth of career information not available in resume databases.

Each of your resumes is given a unique URL, which you can include in emails, on business cards, on your inside your LinkedIn or other social networking profile. I link to my Visual CB from inside this blog and from my LinkedIn profile. The URL can be included in your profile on resume databases.

And Visual CV also provides free lunchtime webinars to help you maximize your CVs potential. Which I'm attending tomorrow -- so you'll notice my VisualCV becoming much more visual in the near future.

Check it out!



Meanwhile, back at the CR Cave, the Caped Recruiter and her handy Thesaurus were getting ready to finish up the discussion on resumes with some handy tips to cover all situations.

Data Tips

  • Make extra effort to scan through your resume in search of out-dated, old-fashioned and no-longer used terms. Phrases like ‘data processing’ or titles like ‘programmer analyst’ can give the reader the (false?) impression that you have not kept up with the times.
  • Spell check! Spell check! SPELLCHECK!!!
  • Resumes read best in bullet format – hiring managers are busy people (let’s beat that dead horse yet once again!) who have to read quickly and efficiently.

Display Tips

  • Don’t use Styles and Formatting – every company reformats resumes before sending them to the hiring managers – it is time-consuming to work with “Heading”, etc. Just make it all “Normal” or “Clear Formatting” and then use tabs and bullets for your formatting. Tables are also a pain to reformat. Making the recruiter’s job more difficult and time-consuming is not the way to ensure he wants to work for you!
  • A resume should have consistency throughout the document – of fonts, of font size, of indentation, of bullet style. You don’t have to use Times New Roman 11 throughout – just make sure that the section dividers all use the same font, the same size, the same strength, ditto the employer names, the employment dates, etc. Be consistent.
  • Use Upper- and Lower-case letters throughout. All caps feels like you’re SCREAMING at the reader – and a very large, very bold type also feels like a scream. Bolding is great when used for emphasis or to highlight certain experiences, but an over abundance of bold type or a heavy font also feels very loud.
  • Choose a font that travels well. While that speciality font you bought looks great on your screen or on a hard copy you print, when the resume is opened by a Recruiter who doesn’t have that font on his server it will probably default to Times New Roman and could lead to some unfortunate formatting issues (and reflect badly on your technical skills).
  • Please send it in Word format – many resume storage databases do not read PDF.

So, that’s it, the end, finis. This is Resumes Omega. I’ve given you everything I know about resumes. I hope these postings can help you improve your resume and land your next great assignment!


Application Schmapplication!

“I hereby certify that all entries and attachments (resume) are true and complete. I agree and understand that any falsification of information herein, regardless of time of discovery, may cause forfeiture on my part of any employment. I understand that all information on this application is subject to verification.”

This is a statement found on the application I require of all my candidates, and something similar is found on every online, electronic, and hardcopy application in the US today. In laymen’s terms this means “don’t lie on this application or your resume – we will discover it while checking your background and you will lose the job you worked so hard to land”.

Many IT job seekers blow past statements such as this, not taking them as seriously as they are. I myself, when looking for a job as a developer, discounted the application as something that was unnecessary for me to worry about because I had a resume. Nothing could be farther from the truth – the application is where potential employers get the information used to run your background checks. And it is imperative that this information be complete and truthful.

The process of background checks is nothing new. It is required of Recruiters by our clients – and the subsequent termination for discovered untruths will come from our clients. Intentional falsehoods on your application or resume is a serious matter, increasingly so in today’s tight job market.

In a survey of 428 companies, less than 18% were not processing some kind of background screening. In other words, 82% of American employers screen potential employees, investigating their backgrounds/hair/bodily fluids for illegal drug usage, criminal records, issues with credit, confirmation of stated education and certifications, and increasingly in the hope of shedding light on the integrity of the candidate.

In my own work, at the instruction of our clients we are required to reject candidates whose applications indicate questionable data – such as verified start/end dates being more than 30 days off from the dates listed on the application, certifications listed that cannot be verified, bankruptcy, and legal convictions, including conviction for worthless checks.

A study by a leading risk and regulatory management solution organization showed 55% of 161 HR professionals discovered outright lies on resumes or applications when conducting background screening or reference checks.

The exploding number of IT professionals seeking employment, paired with the reduction in hiring by US corporations, is expected to create an environment of fierce competition for the assignments that exist, which could lead to some candidates fluffing their resumes with not-so-prove-able factoids in hope of gaining a not-so-competitive edge. Employers are preparing for this potential by increasing the breadth and depth of background screenings, even including cross checking applications and resume data against LinkedIn and social networking pages. Really!

At the atomic level, employers say if the candidate would lie about what month his assignment ended, what else would he lie about. Today’s emphasis on Risk Management, coupled with a bumper crop of available candidates, makes the white-liar more of a liability than even stellar contributions could erase. It is almost too easy to find another candidate who could do that job just as well (or better) than the candidate with questionable data. In a tragically ironic twist, the harmless white lie you believed would put you over the top against your competitors could become the Scarlet Letter that excludes you from employment with certain corporations forever. Forever, really!

Being armed with knowledge of red flags in your background from the beginning can lead your Recruiter to steer you toward corporations that do not have rules against your particular transgression, and away from those that are not so forgiving. I’ve done this, was able to place a great technical guy with a teenage mistake staining his background check, and both of our incomes are better because of his honesty.

So, be truthful on your resume and application. Employers today understand that technical professionals may have been laid off (one or more times). Recruiters know that competition is fierce for assignments and that gaps in employment are common. Being honest on the application, on your resume, and with your Recruiter or Human Resources professional is the safest course of action.

And if you happen to run into an HR professional who is kind enough to verify for you the exact start and end dates of your previous employment after the background checks, keep a record of this to use in future applications.


Resumes 1.2

IT Resume Tips, Part Trois

Professional Experience

This is the section in your resume where you give full and factual disclosure of responsibilities and accomplishments in your career.

It is of ultimate importance that you consider the work load of the reader when you are making decisions about the format of this section – if understanding your resume is a chore, it can be deleted with one click. This is not an industry where unusual resume creativity buys the candidate favor.

It’s been my experience that IT hiring managers prefer the reverse chronological format for this section. Simple, classic, and easy for a busy person to follow. For each assignment, show a header and then list relevant bullet points.

There are 3 bits of data that must be included in the assignment header:

  • Company (this is the client name if you were a consultant) and location
  • Beginning and ending dates (month and year, month and year, MONTH AND year)
  • Functional title (not the official HR title for your position, but a common description for what you actually did – you may want to customize this for each job opportunity)

The more effective resumes show digestible bullet points of action items. "Gathered" "Wrote" "Analyzed" "Developed" "Tested" "Documented". These bullets should tell things you accomplished during your tenure – actions that you performed. In these days of metrics overload, it’s likely that you have statistics and dollar amounts and time savings and other quantifications you can include in these bullet points to prove your value – include them. If you were a PM or a Team Lead include the number of people reporting to you.

Education Section

In this section you will include your educational accomplishments – use bullet points. If you’ve been out of college more than two years, your employer doesn’t care what your GPA was – leave it off. If you’ve been out of college more than 5 years, leave the dates off. Certifications that you didn’t include in the Technical Summary section should be listed here. Simple.

Next time, general resume tips.


Resumes 1.1

Meanwhile, back at CR Central….

So, I have a loosely held standard of how I believe a resume should be formatted for maximum impact for the candidate and the hiring manager. (Remember, these are only my opinions, you have to follow your own gut when creating your personal resume.) In this posting I’ll discuss the Professional Summary and the Technical Summary.

Professional Summary:

I believe that an IT professional with 2+ year’s on-the-job experience should use this title and concept at the top of the resume, rather than Objective, which I think sounds kinda entry level.

The professional summary is an advertisement for you. This is the section on your resume where you speak glowingly of yourself while giving a very high level explanation of your entire career. This should be 3-4 sentences. Seriously, a four-inch summary is no longer a summary. 15 bullet points is not a summary. You have room for details in the Professional Experience section. This section is a summary.

This summary ideally should be rewritten for each job opportunity you’re applying for, or for each type of position for which you’d like to be considered. You should include very high level and most impressive accomplishments here, relative to the job at hand.

“An IT Professional and PMP with 15+ years experience leading Enterprise-Wide software solutions and business process engineering projects.” “A Microsoft Certified .net frameworks developer (MCP), with expert level experience in Web Services, SSRS, SharePoint, and Crystal Reports.”

Technical Summary

This is an important section for anyone in the IT industry, and it is imperative that it is on the front page of the resume and can be rapidly scanned and digested by the overloaded hiring manager. Organization and formatting are key here.

You want to include things like Platforms, Databases, Languages, Applications, specialty tools, testing tools, etc. Depending upon your specific role, there may be more categories you can use. I use bullet points for each topic, so the manager can focus in on what’s important to her. You may also want to bold the elements that were specifically listed in the job description – sifting those requested skills to the front of the listings cannot hurt.

Business Analysts and Project Managers should also include this section, as today’s hiring managers look for candidates whose experience matches the project at hand as closely as possible. Work flow tools, methodologies, project organization tools, should all be included – in addition to the elements listed above that relate to your background.

If you have earned specific certifications that were listed in the job posting, I believe all your certifications should be listed in this technical summary section – making the requested qualifications most prevalent. (If you don’t have any of the requested certifications, list your certifications in the Education section.)

Professional Experience, Next CR Time, Next CR Channel!


IT Trend Alert!

The following article was shamelessly copied from Semco's November 2008 Newsletter, TechConnections.

Modeling - Changing IT Completely

Modeling has become the basis of all design – which is the heart of software development. Modeling is used to specify, visualize, and document software systems graphically. A model is a representation of the architecture of a data structure (data model), or of the steps and work done in an application process (process model). A model can be conceived independently of any notation, hardware, or software. In one sense, it is the essential information expressed through the use of a notation. Modeling is design process used for large and/or complex systems, and current tools allow the developer to build models, then the tool generates the program code. While modeling was first used with large and complex systems, many companies now model everything. Modeling has two subsets – data modeling and process modeling.ER (Entity Relationship) modeling is the oldest and most common data modeling technology. It was introduced by Peter Chen in 1976 and identifies information as entities and ties these entities to each other through various rules that define relationships. As new technologies appeared, ER techniques and notational systems were incorporated and expanded. ER modeling is included in IE (Information Engineering) and UML (Unified Modeling Language). Each of these systems has expanded the technology and each has its own notational system, but all are very similar and it's very easy to move from one to another.There are two types of process models, software and business. Software processes can be programs, modules, objects, components. Modeling the software processes means defining the executable segments – and when and how they will execute. Business processes, of course, are the actions of our businesses. For example, order entry is a business process. It consists of working with data (collecting it, updating it, etc.), but the main focus is on the action itself (answer the phone, ask specific questions, enter this data, etc), when the action occurs (throughout the day, every Friday, at the close of business, etc.).UML (Unified Modeling Language) is both a development methodology and notational format used with object analysis and design. With UML, developers define a three-tiered model of the application: user interface, business logic, and database. UML then defines thirteen types of diagrams (or constructs), divided into three categories:• Structure Diagrams: include the Class Diagram, Object Diagram, Component Diagram, Composite Structure Diagram, Package Diagram, and Deployment Diagram. • Behavior Diagrams: include the Use Case Diagram (used by some methodologies during requirements gathering); Activity Diagram, and State Machine Diagram. • Interaction Diagrams: include the Sequence Diagram, Communication Diagram, Timing Diagram, and Interaction Overview Diagram. UML combines the methodologies of the main gurus of object oriented programming (Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson, James Rumbaugh) and ws developed by OMG (Object Management Group) and was originally released: 1996. It was fully adopted in July, 2006 and many modeling tools and techniques are built on UML.Business process modeling is the newest form of modeling and it is the one that could have the largest impact on IT. Business process modeling can be done with any process modeling tool and technology, but ,in fact, new tools are being developed. Many of these tools are designed to be used by business men and women – not by IT professionals. This could cause significant changes in the way applications are developed. Two languages have already been developed – BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and BPML (Business Process Modeling Language). Even more important, BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) was introduced in 2003 and is growing in use by both the business community and government agencies. This technology was developed specifically for business process modeling and is supported by many companies including IBM and Microsoft. BPMN models are much easier for non-technical people to work with than those created with UML and IDEF.Two terms have been around for quite a while, MDD (Model Driven Development) and MDA (Model Driven Architecture) and both represent the trend to use modeling as the heart of the development cycle. The acronyms are often used interchangeably, and represent a set of standards that use software to generate program code from models. This is so important. It means that the model becomes the program, and any changes or updates are done to the model. The models are saved and every time a change is made to the model, software generates the new code. MDD stresses building functional models that are not tied to specific technologies or platforms. This results in generating code for any number of platforms from the same model, so software is not tied to specific hardware and software. Another factor in the modeling trend is that the tools are more and more designed to be used by business men and women rather than IT professionals. Think of the implications – as these tools evolve, application "programming" will be done by business people, and IT professionals will concentrate on systems and technical software – operating systems, DBMSs (DataBase Management Systems), and communication systems. IT is changing. But, of course, that's nothing new.


Resumes 1.0

Warning! If your IT resume has not had a total overhaul in the past five years you are potentially being rejected outright for assignments for which you are totally qualified – simply because you appear dated. Dated as in old, out-of-style, old-fashioned, passé. Think dinosaur. Imagine, if you can, your resume clearly stating in black and white Times New Roman ‘c#.net frameworks’ or ‘business process engineering’ and the hiring manager reading ‘COBOL’ or ‘data processing’. Cut - Delete - Purge.

While a rose is a rose is a rose, it cannot be said that a resume is a resume is a resume. An Information Technology resume is a different breed of resume, and probably qualifies as a totally different species of deliverable than your average civilian resume. My personal (as a consultant) and professional (as a recruiter) experience has shown me that the rules of most resumes simply do not apply to today’s IT resumes.

Beginning with the length – the IT resume should be long enough to clearly state actions, responsibilities and experiences that qualify you for the assignment for which you’re applying. Unequivocal language is tres important in a resume, because in today’s world of non-technical Vendor Management analysts making the supreme determination on whether a candidate is qualified to be considered for an assignment, there should be no question that you meet the requirements. Do not assume that these analysts know that MOSS and SharePoint are basically the same thing -- you make this assumption at your own doom.

Once your resume makes it through the Vendor Management Maze of Doom, it has to actually pique the interest of the over-worked, under-staffed hiring manager – the same hiring manager who is really hoping that if she keeps accepting more and more resumes she’ll finally get that one candidate who meets all the requirements to a T. Bad news for her, good news for you, is that this will never happen. So you want to grab her attention on the first page and force her to read to the end.

In my office we have a loose standard of how we like to see a resume laid out, a format we believe best serves both our candidates and the hiring managers.

  1. Professional Summary
  2. Technical Summary
  3. Professional Experience
  4. Education and Certifications

I’ll break these sections down in my next posting.


Begin at the Beginning

After a successful career in Information Technology, as both an FTE and a Consultant, I came to be the Computer Recruiter when my solid and archaic technical skills were no longer demanded by the market. I didn’t keep up with Technology. Short and sweet.

So now I’ve embraced my new career in Technical Recruiting of IT Consultants, and have learned something new and relative to IT job searches every day on the job. Every day. Bursting at the seams with this windfall of insider info, I found myself wanting to share it with every IT professional who will execute a job search in this downward market – or any market.

Which has led to Computer Recruiter: Not So Confidential.

I’m not trying to hold myself out as an expert – I’m still light years from that! However, I do have insights into topics that often confound job seekers – what do employers look for, what is my competition doing to gain an edge, what are the latest trends in job searching, what should my resume look like, yada yada yada.

In these early stages of blogging, my plans are to distill the new bits of information I learn on a daily basis into a-ha summaries. If this information is helpful to only one out of 100 people who may find their way here out of the entire internet, I’ll consider myself successful.