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.