Saturday, November 2, 2013

Crafting Your Resume (Part Four): Applying for Technical Positions in High-Tech Startups

Part Four – What to Include & What Not to Include

Lets continue our discussion on Crafting Your Resume!  We have previously talked about length and format; today we will go over which information we think you should include on your resume, and what you can leave out.  Hopefully this information will help you to create a resume that engages your readers and compels them to discover more about you.

5 Things to Include:

(1) Write about those interests and accomplishments that you really value and would like to talk about in an interview.  Your resume should ignite the right discussion, one that will highlight you both as a person and as a potential employee.

For example, if you have several major projects you can talk about, you might only want to mention the ones that are more interesting and important.  Only list those things you wish to discuss with an interviewer, nothing mundane and boring.  Also, if you list something interesting, don’t give all the details – this will tempt a reader to ask more about it, giving you the opportunity to shine!

(2) The order in which you mention your skills and interests is important!  Whatever you list first generally carries more emphasis.

For example, if you are listing programming languages that you use, put the most relevant or important one first.  Avoid including old or stale information that isn’t necessary.  And put what you are interested in doing most at the beginning (ex: test automation / software engineer.)

(3) Make sure to include relevant skills or hooks that companies are currently seeking.  You can take a look at job postings to get more information on this.  List anything (even classes you have taken) that shows that you have the experience a company is seeking.

(4) Don’t be shy or too uncomfortable to show who you really are – by listing your interests you may click with the reader.

For example, if you are excited about gourmet food, travel, or ballroom dancing, add it on your resume under your interests.  This can make you seem more three-dimensional to the reader, which can spur to ask you more questions and choose to learn about you more on a human level.  A discussion like this offers you a chance to highlight your inter-personal skills, especially if you are looking for a position where you will need to deal with people.  Also, it can give the hiring manager an example of your proficiency at explaining things to people who are not involved or knowledgeable about them.

(5) Make sure to include relevant personal projects.  This will show your interests beyond your daily job duties and can highlight a passion for technologies you may not have had the opportunity to work with at your current job. It is critical to emphasize these projects if they are relevant for the position you are applying for. 

A few examples of this are: applications published in the AppStore or the Android market, GitHub repositories with many references, or Open Source contributions.

5 Things to Leave Out

(1) Definitely remove projects, interests, or skills if you are not comfortable talking about them.  Even if the projects you list are from 15 years ago, you HAVE to remember the details and you must be willing to discuss them – otherwise they have no place on your resume.

One hiring manager mentions that he randomly chooses something on a candidate’s resume and asks for more details about it – often the person is unable to elaborate on that topic at all.  Make sure that if you put something on your resume, you have something interesting to say about it!

(2) What should you do with skills that you have some knowledge about but you are not proficient in?  Don’t put them on your resume!  Instead, save them as a “nice surprise” that you can mention during an interview.

(3) Take care to not include something that can be a “Red Flag” for a hiring manager.  For example, don’t signal that you have a strong preference for working in a corporate environment (ie. Six Sigma) if you are applying for a position at a start-up.

(4) Don’t highlight an extremely time-consuming hobby if you don’t want to signal that you won’t work many hours.  You may want to downplay your passion for an activity if you think it will lead people to believe that you will not have enough time and energy to devote to your job.

(5) Leave off any trivial or obvious tasks, especially if they are implied by your job title.  It’s a waste of space on your resume and can actually irritate your readers.  It may also cause them to merely skim through your resume, leading them to miss the vital things they are seeking.

While these guidelines can help you figure out what to include in your resume, you also need to remember that you want to position yourself in the best light possible.  Make your resume interesting!  If you believe in your resume and the way you present yourself, it shows!

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