Need some big time resume advice!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Patrick G, Oct 11, 2003.

  1. Patrick G

    Patrick G Second Unit

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    Ok, I'm a 30-year old who is graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. My question is whether my resume should have an educational focus or an experience focus. I'm worried that my experience will show my age, and that will hurt my chances at getting an interview. I'm thinking maybe I should just leave off the "Video Services" experience altogether, along with the "Another State University" under Education, since these 2 indicate that I'm not a "typical" college grad. What do you think?

    I would appreciate ANY other suggestions on what additions/ommitions I can make... or if I need to redo the whole thing. I'm applying for just about anything in the IT field (support, analyst, etc.)... just about everything but programmer.

    http://images.fotopic.net/?id=141629...&nostamp=1.jpg
     
  2. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I'd recommend keeping most of what you have. If you don't, and you get an interview, you'll have to explain what you've been doing since high school. Plus you got some management and other experience there that will be good in a wide variety of positions and shows you have a lot of experience working with others.

    Depending on the type of position you're looking forward, I'd trim out the computer skills a bit. I work as a software developer, and if we were hiring someone as a developer we'd make jokes about the Office experience and some of the others. I mean, who can't use Office? Now if you have advanced skills with office, and are looking for a position where you'll be integrating stuff with it, that's another thing, but you need to highlight those kinds of skills. I'd trim down that software list, or rewrite it somehow to imply that you have extensive experience with a wide variety of applications.

    One thing I see lacking is a listing of job experience wtih computers. If there's some place you can add that, it'd be a major plus. Otherwise if I was looking at your resume I'd assume you used those various apps in college, and are just trying to bulk up your resume a bit. Even if that's an erroronous assumption, you don't someone thinking like that while reading your resume.
     
  3. Patrick G

    Patrick G Second Unit

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  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Try highlighting what those computer related activites were. Specifically what apps they involved, etc. I don't see a connection between what you did at Video Services and the applications you have experience with. That's just my opinion.
     
  5. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    Patrick -

    First of all congratulations at completing your degree! As a fellow IT professional who is also looking for a job I can only say good luck. I hate to be a naysayer but times are tough in the IT world and you will be going up against lots of people for a every job that you apply for. Many people with lots of experience are applying for entry level jobs just to feed their families. I am not saying you will not find a job, just expect the job hunt to be very very tough.

    So now on to the resume. I would have to agree with Keith in that I don't see anything listed that is different than the normal office worker. If you did more make sure to list them. Examples would be "developed training programs to allow workers to better utilize MS-Office in our environment" or "responsible for performing all upgrades and maintainance on the desktop systems for a 100 node network" or "responsible for configuring all new systems to properly connect to the company WAN" etc. In other words if you have lots of computer experience then you need to figure out a different way to list it because as it stands now in your resume it definitely looks like the computer stuff was secondary to your other skills and responsibilities.

    As a person who has hired lots of IT people I look at your resume and I can't really tell what you have ever done with PC's or what your specific talents are...sorry I really hope this helps you.

    Laters,
    Jeff
     
  6. Cary_H

    Cary_H Second Unit

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    I just dumped a tome I spent ages on. I could go on forever here. Here's the short version.
    Your resume looks pretty good to me. Tweak the layout a bit and don't worry if it goes over onto a second page. Print it onto some decent, upper-level paper in black on a laser.
    Make sure a short, tight cover letter heads it up, addressed directly to the person in the driver's seat. Deliver it by hand, and follow up to "see" they got it. (of course they did...you hand delivered it to reception.)
    This puts you above the vast majority of your competition.
    Now the important part. Do your homework.
    Prepare to rule the interview. Go spend a day in the local library and pick up a couple of the many "how to" books on interviewing. It doesn't matter what the job is, all the questions are the same ones, just different people throwing them at you. Same questions, same right answers. Develop your answers, learn them, and practice them 'til you've got them down tight. Tell them what they want to hear and no more. Get in and get out...they'll know pretty quick if you made the cut. Don't hang around and chance slipping up and give them a reason to change their minds.
    Oh...don't worry over the age thing. Sell them on what you learned from your past experiences. You tried some things that maybe didn't work for you. Now you've discovered what turns your crank, it just took you a little while to get some clarity around the whole thing, but all the better an employee you'll be for them.
    They eat just this kind of &^#@ right up...just make sure to spew the cornball stuff with some serious conviction.
    I've done it the wrong way, and I've done it this way. It sounds like cheesy advice I know,....but this is what culls the successful candidate from the also-rans.
     
  7. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    so what did you do during your degree ? that was your most recent experience in IT. that's what they'll be interested in. one page is going to look a little enemic (try for two) - this'll give you a chance to pad it out.
     
  8. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Patrick,

    Although I have no experience with customary US resumés (and thus, please, take my advice with a necessary grain of salt), I would strongly advice against leaving anything of your professional life out.

    I hired more than 100 IT persons in my lifetime and led more than 500 job interviews, I think. Any period missing in a resumé is very suspicious. It's the first thing my pen stops at when I look at an application. Also, any vagueness (like "followed a course for four years" - without explicitly stating that a degree was received) immediately raises the eyebrow. I'm glad it's a strong point in your resumé.

    In my country, the resumé always mentions the day of birth and so there's no chance to avoid letting them know your age. When you're invited for an interview, your age will come out anyway. A wrong impression they got from your application letter in the first place will then certainly work against you.

    There's nothing wrong with experience (if it's totally unrelated to the job in question it may have no impact, but it's the lack of proper experience that counts most), so by all means leave it in.

    Also, never use different resumés for different applications (you may however change - e.g. improve - your resumé over time), for it may simply come out one way of another and then, again, work against you.

    At the interview: be yourself. Prepare well (read about the company, read the advertisement that led you to apply). "Being yourself", however, should never mean: dress like when you work in your garden, speak as if addressing your best friend, etc. You know what I mean.

    Good luck! You will get a job (if not this one, then another). Now the economy will slowly, but gradually strengthen, IT will be coming back first!

    Cees
     
  9. Ray Gutnick

    Ray Gutnick Stunt Coordinator

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    drop the "3.1 and 95" from the windows statement.
     
  10. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    You don't have to document your entire life since kindergarten. As long as there are no big unexplained gaps in between the jobs you list, there is no reason to go to two pages or to go back any further than five to seven years.

    If you're a grown-up at all you will have had many jobs over the years. Recruiters know that. List your education and your degrees. Do not include any years on that part of the resume. Problem solved.

    In most companies, your resume is going to go through several filters. Generally step one will be a low-level HR person who knows absolutely nothing about IT. You must make it absolutely clear to this drone that this is an IT resume, and that you know more and have more experience with computers than he/she does. This will cause the drone to send your resume up to the next level instead of filing it under "ignore."

    Also you are not under oath in preparing a resume. A resume is a work of semi-fiction designed to get you an interview. Although you must not flat-out lie on a resume or claim experience, education, degress or certifications you don't have (and which can be verified) there is no reason not to "spin" reality in the way most favorable to your cause. If you were the person everybody in your department came to for computer help before they called IT, list that as part of your job responsibilities - in fact, add it to your title if you can think of a way to do so. If your boss and the IT department allowed this to go on, it was are part of your duties. If you would then call IT and explain the other user's problems to them, you were acting as your department's liaison to IT. Say so.

    Also if you were involved in anything computer related that saved your company money or improved a process list it under your accomplishments and take 100% of the credit for it, even if you were a member of a 4 person team. When we were about to be downsized out of our jobs I had my then boss go over my resume. She crossed out every reference to "us" and "we", and every place where I said that I had assisted her in getting something done. "You're trying to get yourself an interview with this thing, not me. Don't worry about being fair or honest. I'm not going to argue the point, and nobody in HR at the new headquarters is going to know what you did here by the time anyone calls to verify employement." I thought it was good advice then, and I've stuck to it ever since. [​IMG]

    If I'm looking at a resume I really don't care about your computer experience from 10 years ago, because your general computer experience is going to show up in more recent jobs, and your specific knowledge from that time period is useless. (Nobody is using that hardware and software anymore - at least not anybody you want to work for.)

    Limiting yourself to the 5 to 7 year range also helps fudge your age, if that's a concern.

    I would respectfully disagree with Cees and suggest that your tweak and tailor your resume (and even moreso your cover letter) to match the job you're applying for. If I'm going after an end-user training position I have a one page resume that emphasizes my training, help desk and desktop software experience, a networking job gets the one that devotes more space to LAN/WAN issues and experience, a supervisory job one that devotes more text to supervisory and management experience. Since I worked for a couple of companies that aren't around any more, I also adjust my job titles to suit individual applications. I keep a "job package" for each application and remember which resume/letter I sent where, and I've never had a problem. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" resume. You should always be prepared to make adjustments to your basic resume. (I only use my generic resume for job advertisements that are themselves too vague for me to focus in on better.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  11. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Cees:

     
  12. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Joseph,

    Interesting.
    (In my country it's illegal to ask if a woman is pregnant - even if she shows up at hte interview being 'at 7 months'.)

    Thanks.

    And, Patrick, as I said before: take my advice with some caution, because things may be different in different countries!

    Cees
     
  13. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Patrick,

    Your descriptions are too long. Figure that whoever is reading the resume has a 100 others to read that day. Your resume should be able to be read very fast while communicating everything that is unique about you.

    Also, drop the "minor experience" line. Everything on a resume should make you out to be very experienced. If you don't know enough C++ that you could learn it quickly for a potential job, don't list it.

    Under computer skills, to clarify that you know those programs inside-out, say something like: Proficient in... You might also want to consider listing MS Word, Excel, etc instead of just say Office Suite. You could have some total dunce read your resume who is looking for someone that knows how to use Excel, and doesn't realize/know that Excel is part of Office Suite.
     
  14. Tom Meyer

    Tom Meyer Second Unit

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    I have a couple comments as someone who's been in IT since 1992 (I'm 34)..

    First, you say your degree is in "Computer Information Systems/E-Commerce" and are trying to get a job in IT. As that is your goal and you have little experience (from what I can tell from your resume) outside of school, I think you need to get *very* specific about what you are doing in school and what specific skills you have. What sort of classes did you take to get your degree ? For example, Illinois Institute of Technology offers a certificate program in E-business. It includes classes/concentrations in management strategy, marketing strategy, database fundamentals, Java, security, Unix networking, C++, wireless technology, etc.. Now, you do have those listed, but they are at the very end of the list. Since you don't seem to have much work experience in IT-specific areas, you need to find things in your degree program that are directly applicable to the real world and create a section specifically for that. Include any projects or specific skills or classes you've acquired from your classwork.

    As Keith said, deemphasize *all* off the Office stuff unless you've got some sort of special skills with something like Excel connecting to a database or Excel w/ VB. It's pretty much a given that anyone in today's world will know how to use Word so I don't think you'd be well served by putting all that stuff at the very top of your list.

    oh, and what's "Another State University" ? Why not just list it ? Even if it's the University of Northern Southwest Missouri State at That Bend in the Mississippi, you should list it.
     
  15. Mark Romero

    Mark Romero Second Unit

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  16. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    It's a given that everyone knows how to type up a memo using word, but not being able to do something as simple as a mail merge.
     
  17. Dave_Brown

    Dave_Brown Supporting Actor

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    I'm just still trying to figure out why you think being 30 somehow lists you in the "old and hardly employable" bracket. You're just getting started at that age and you shouldn't be afraid of your age coming across as an obstacle, in my opinion.
     
  18. Yoshi Sugawara

    Yoshi Sugawara Stunt Coordinator

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    Not sure what you are really interested in, but how about Network Administrator, Technical Support Associate, Computer Support Specialist, or something along those lines. You might want to try mid- to small- sized businesses, as they seem like those types of companies really need the support. The flip side of that is that most smaller companies hire a contractor on a as-needed basis to help with their networking/printing/computer support needs. You might want to consider working as a contractor if you can't find anything, providing general support to individuals/businesses - there are a lot of non-technical people who want some support at home - things like connecting to the itnernet, resolving incompatibilities, etc. I've heard people who are able to make some decent money from doing that.

    As for your resume, it might be good to flesh out some of the computer-infrastructure related things - like what monitoring/administrative tools have you used? What networking protocols/applications? Maybe expand on "corporate web development" - like what application servers have you used/installed? Those details are what companies might be interested in.

    Also, I like seeing some results in the experience section when I'm screening resumes - what have you accomplished, how did you contribute to your employer? Did you increase productivity? That kind of stuff...

    Anyways, I hope that helped - good luck on the hunt!
     
  19. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Patrick, some advice follows, but here is how your resume reads to me (like Cees I’ve hired a good many and read a good many more resumes in this field over many years). I’m not trying to be aggressive, but just to give you my impressions.


    Went to college and didn’t like it and dropped out after a couple of years.

    Took a year off (1994) and got a low level job after living at home.

    Decided I was going nowhere and went back to college while working.


    So what to do?

    I think that Cees is exactly correct in stating not to leave any unfilled gaps. They stick out like a sore thumb. Your resume as it stands is too oriented towards jobs that won’t do anything to secure a position in IT. My advice is to make sure that you account for your time by listing your jobs and be prepared to explain any gaps. Don’t know what happened in 1994 but you need to be able to fill in that gap.

    Lose the paragraph descriptions of your jobs—one well chosen sentence will do. Expand you education section, as this is what will land you your job. You might give some examples as to your expertise in various areas. Your education is more than just a list of your computer skills. Emphasize that you put yourself through college by working in these various jobs If it took you longer than four yeas to graduate, that will be reason enough. It will be viewed as a positive by potential employees that you worked your way through, even if it took some time.

    You need to decide if you begin your resume in 1991 or 1995, the latter choice eliminating the one year gap and the drop out. If this is your choice, be prepared to answer questions such as “Have you had and previous work experience?” or “Is your educational background complete?” You may not get asked these questions, but they are ones that might be asked of someone recently graduated, but not in their early 20s (the fact that you can’t ask a question of age, does not mean that the interviewer is blind). Just be prepared.

    I slightly disagree with Cess in that I would tailor a resume to meet a target company. But as you don’t have a wealth of IT job experience that may not be much of an issue.
     

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