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Intelligent Resume Tools? 40

Posted by Cliff
from the more-than-just-a-word-processor dept.
imrdkl asks: "It's time for me (and presumably a few others) to start thinking about a career change. With 10 years of experience, I'd like to be able to customize my resume a bit, to highlight the experience/education which is pertinent to a given job, instead of trying to say too much and boring the reader. Are there any tools out there (non-web-based preferred) which help a person to create a custom resume based (perhaps) on a small database which contains relevant work-experience highlights?"
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Intelligent Resume Tools?

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  • Tools? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Calle Ballz (238584) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:16AM (#2841152) Homepage
    I would certainly hope you don't need to rely on a tool to write your resume for you. If you have the experience that you claim, you should have no problem selling yourself on an 8.5 x 11 piece of white paper. Writing a resume isn't that hard... just think of what you know and write it down, then organize it into a well grouped format and print it out.

    If you need ideas, this site [jobweb.com] will give you plenty of ideas and suggestions on how to build a great resume yourself.
    • Thanks for the advice. I hope I wont have a problem filling an single page, it's optimization I'm after. A resume that highlights the experience which is relevant to a specific job/employer.

      I thought there might be something out there where the heading and education pieces would be static, but the objective, experience and skills sections could be customized a bit relevant to a given job description. I don't plan to send out more resumes than necessary, but I dont plan to send out just one, either.

      • Why don't you just customize it yourself? Relying on a program to add "pertinent" information sounds like a great way to fuck up royally. If you truly care about the positions you're applying for, you'll spend the extra 5 or 10 minutes customizing a resume yourself (and, for God's sake, proofreading it!!) before sending it off.

        - A.P.
      • by Otter (3800)
        I hope I wont have a problem filling an single page, it's optimization I'm after. A resume that highlights the experience which is relevant to a specific job/employer.

        I'd think the opposite would be much more effective: wizards are good at taking you from a blank page to a rough draft that you then refine, flesh out and polish. Relying on an automated step at the end of the process seems like a really good way to introduce embarassing errors.

  • One nice one.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Merkins (224523)

    OK, it's web based, and Australian..

    But, SEEK [seek.com.au] has an online resume builder that is not too bad. It might give you some ideas anyway.

  • xmlresume.sf.net (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sam Lowry (254040) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @07:17AM (#2841257)
    Check XML resume at http://xmlresume.sf.net
    If you work in IT, your addiction to XML
    and cutting-edge technologies will be
    surely appreciated.
  • Its not that difficult to write a resume ... you shouldn't need any form of online tool to get it right. The main key is to think about it from the employers perspective. What is the job spec (or the area you are interested in)? What would you want to see on a resume.

    From previous experience I've found that no more than two pages, with the *key* details on is adequate ... you want to get their attention. Keep the information relevant, recent, brief and "human". ie. prove that you have a life outside of the office aswell as inside - unless you are after a job in Richmond ;).

    Bullet points are good - avoid huge paragraphs ...
  • by Molina the Bofh (99621) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @08:18AM (#2841408) Homepage
    Automated enough ?

    #!/usr/bin/perl

    die "Syntax: $0 [your name]\n" unless ($ARGV[0]);

    @job=('webdesigner', 'IT director', 'ASP programmer', 'VB programmer', 'FORTRAN programmer', 'CEO', 'spam hunter', 'CTO', 'BOFH','sp
    ammer');
    @company=('Microsoft','IBM','Compaq',"my mom's office",'my garage','a classified government agency','X-Files', 'NASA');
    print "I, @ARGV, have ".int (rand(15))." years of experience as ".$job[rand(10)]." at ".$company[rand(8)]."\n";

    @degree=('MBA','junior high','PhD');
    @school=('Harvard','Oxford','Princeton','Bopal University');
    print "I have a ".$degree[rand(3)]." at ".$school[rand(4)]." so I am more than qualified for this position.\n";

    print "\n\nI must also add that I'm gay, afro-american and have some sort of physical deficiency, and my lawyer is ready to sue your
    company for discrimination if I don't get this job. \n\n Thanks and have a nice day.\nSincerely yours, @ARGV\n"

    • This was very fun. Mod this up !!!!!
    • Any reasonable Perl programmer wouldn't have written it this way.

      First, multitple embedded carriage returns are evil. Better to write using here documents.

      Worse, what programer would hardcode the number of elements in an array? Far better to write as:

      print "I, @ARGV, have ", rand(15)+1, " years of experience as ",
      $job[rand(@job)], " at ", $company[rand(@company)], "\n";
  • LaTeX (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fastjack (2009)
    Odds are you wouldn't be asking if you knew LaTeX, but you can do some basic-to-intermediate categorization and conditional inclusion of entries with it.

    If you use a macro for everything you also get the advantage of being able to easily reformat everything if you decide one format is better than another, or even if you want to format different categories of items differently.

    On the down-side, you'd have to know LateX ...
  • by schnurble (16727) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @10:07AM (#2841993) Homepage
    ...but not what the original poster had in mind. I have to agree with most of the replies. If you've got that kind of experience, writing a resume should be simple.

    HOWEVER. What I want to see is something that will store this information, possibly in a db or somesuch, and then spit it out easily into multiple formats. The problem I'm finding now is, I've been asked for PDF, PostScript, HTML, Plaintext, RichText, and MS Word versions of my resume. So I've got 6 versions to keep up to date. Granted, it's not all THAT hard, but it's still a pain in the ass.

    The ideal situation would be to stuff all the relevent information (name, contact info, objective, experience, skills) into a database, then have an automagic confragulator or whatever generate the various formats. That way, I only have to update the information one, and this automagical process can just be a link on my homepage to "Download my resume in your favorite format". Adding a format is as simple as adding an output filter for the automagic confragulator. So when someone asks for ClarisWorks for MacOS 1.0 format, you hack together the appropriate output filter, and now you can kick it out in 7 formats, instantaneously, and always up to date.

    If anyone knows of something like that, it would be -very- useful.

    -j
    • The problem I'm finding now is, I've been asked for PDF, PostScript, HTML, Plaintext, RichText, and MS Word versions of my resume. So I've got 6 versions to keep up to date.

      It's definitely a pain in the ass. I keep the master copy of my resume in HTML, print it to postscript and convert to PDF with ps2pdf. That part is easy. The problem is keeping a word version up to date. If I open the HTML in Word it looks terrible - and somehow expands to over three pages!
      • The problem is keeping a word version up to date.

        So, don't. I've had no problem with making HTML, plain text, PDF, and Postscript versions [infamous.net] available, and saying "Microsoft Word or other proprietary formats not available. If needed, please import the HTML or plain text version into your software."

        It's the 21st century. Having your resume on the web where it can be spidered, searched for, bookmarked, e-mailed, etcetera, is orders of magnitude much more important that having a version in some indecypherable insecure proprietary format meant to provide a mediocre dead-tree printing.

        Of course, I brand myself as a Unix geek, and am dealing primarily with Unix shops, which are generally more cluefull about such things. If you're looking for a MCSE job...well, you'll get what you deserve. :-)

        • I'm a UNIX geek too, a cursory look at my resume will show this. I came from a primarily UNIX shop. It looks like I'll be going to a UNIX shop. But, guess what! HR doesn't always follow Operations. Both times, previous job and my current hopeful, I've been asked for MS Word.

          In HR's eyes, if you give pushback to this simple request, what other trouble will you cause?
          • In HR's eyes, if you give pushback to this simple request, what other trouble will you cause?

            How is it a "simple request" for them to ask me to purchase several hundred dollars worth of software in order to communicate with them? (Maybe even new hardware, I don't know if any of the boxes I have would run current versions of MS Windows.)

            It's not "pushback" to say, "Sorry, I don't have Microsoft Word. But I can give you a version in the standard formats of ASCII text or HTML version that you can easily import into Word. Or if you prefer, I can send to PDF or PostScript."

            This has happened several times and I've I had no trouble. (Of course, I am quite willing to make trouble when necessary...I won't pee in a cup [infamous.net], and I read contracts thoroughly and make them change things I don't like. But I don't think this counts.)

    • HOWEVER. What I want to see is something that will store this information, possibly in a db or somesuch, and then spit it out easily into multiple formats.

      I did this with my own resume awhile back (http://www.twmacinta.com/resume/resume_gen.php [twmacinta.com]). Initially, my thinking was close to yours and I thought about making a generalized resume system that reads from a db. What I did, instead, was to store all of my resume information as string literals (inside of arrays) within a PHP program. This is obviously not something you would want to do if you were writing a generic resume generation program for others to use, but since I am the only user of the code itself I opted for this route because it took very little time to develop. I would recommend this route to other developers because updating your resume data is pretty easy (just add another string to the array) and supporting new formats is just a matter of writing some PHP to transform the arrays into that format. All of the formats on my page are automatically generated except for Word and PDF, for which I have written intermediate HTML formats that can be very easily converted into Word and PDF by hand.

  • IMO, you're better off having one standard resume that doesn't contain any bs. Potential employers might like to know that you're well-rounded and flexible in your skills, rather than a drone that specializes in a narrow range of skills. Be honest about yourself and your background, just don't drag it out.

    Customization should be left to your cover letter, where you introduce yourself and put to words how your skills and experience would contribute to a company.

    The lesson here: Optimize your resume to paint a concise picture of yourself; optimize your cover letter to show specific employers how you would fit in.
  • its called MS Word. Alternatly you could use WordPerfect or Startoffice or something else like that. That is what most people use.

    When I was in college I obtained a program called resume writer, which allowed you to enter in your resume information and then choose which sections you wanted on your resume. It ran under window 3.1 so I am not sure if it is still around. It was designed for someone who was doing their first resume.

    Personally I have done better since I started using HTML to do my resume. I can then use Word, Frontapge, Netscape, mozilla, or even a text editor to edit my resume. I found that the tools really did not help. It was better for me to have a simple format.

    Start with Name && Address at top. Then maybe list an objective. Then skill proficencies like UNIX SUN, AIX, Programming C/C++ etc. Next jobs with bulleted one liners telling what you did in 10 words or less per task. Like ported app X to platform foo from platform bar. Lastly any thing else releveant or hobbies and clubs and maybe references. Try to keep it to one page. While people say 2 is okay, I have seen more people with 2 page resumes get passed over for jobs than 1 pagers. Only because a resume is only going to get about 5 seconds look over so it has to be concise. Don't use fancy fonts or anything that may not scan easy as some companies scan resumes into their database.

    • by sct (28839)
      I have to disagree with your assesment of resume length. I have been told by much wiser people than I, that every resume is looked at to the end.

      Don't fill it with fluff like the summer job you had in high school bagging grocieres if you are 10 years out of college. Do put all relivant information in it.

      Mine is about 2 pages. If I just cross onto the third I will likely remove some old intern jobs or out-of-practive skills to bring it back to two, but if I have relivant information, I will certainly let it grow beyond that.

      The one page rule was created to keep people who should not have a long resume from having one. If you have a skill set/job history that is importaint, don't leave it out just to keep to one page.

      As for tools. I curently only have an HTML resume. I will probably create a LeTeX one (as mentioned elsewhere) to create a PS and maybe PDF version along with an HTML one. I think I have enough job history and skills to refuse to supply a Word based resume. At least I hope so :-)

      • "I have to disagree with your assesment of resume length. I have been told by much wiser people than I, that every resume is looked at to the end."

        You are free to disagree, but my sister works in an HR department plus this is what I read in IEEE as well and numerous other places. Expect 5 to 10 seconds for someone to 'scan' your resume with their eyes. If you are lucky or something sticks out then it will get a second glance. Many get dumped rather quickly though.

        Also if you are emailing or faxing, your resume may not get looked at based solely on your cover letter. Be ware of 'typoes and misspelllings', especially on the cover letter but also on the resume.

        Yes, if you have more than 10 years 'relevant' experience (yes leave out the bagging groceries thing and waiting tables) then 2 pages is acceptable. When an organization like Berkley get over 10 thousand resumes at a job fair do you really think that they look at EVERY one for more than a glance? I'd have to think not. They don't have the time. Your lucky if you get to chat with them for more than 30 seconds.

        The resume is there to get you the interview. Basically to spark an interest in you, not to tell your entire life history.

        Number 1 on the resume is skills and application of those skills. They want to scan and see perl if you are applying for a position that is requiring that. As well as C if they require that. Also they want to see years and what you did. Not perl code, but "I created perl scripts for oracle to sybase conversion" works if you did something like that. Details are left out to entice them to want to talk to you about the details. If they have all the details in your resume then they man or may not be inclined to talk to you.

        Last time I was looking for a job I sent out many resumes and got LOTS of responses. I had numberous interviews and was somewhat picky of what I took. And this was at the beginning of the recession. Hey my resume served its purpose of getting me to the point of talking to the person on the phone and many an interview. I think my resume is set up rather well otherwise I would not have gotton the responses that I did. I don't have that much experience, but it was an eye catcher.

        There are also many books out there that talk about resumes and they have 'proper' expected formats of resumes and mines fall right in there with the 'proper' format of a resume, so I must have done something right. I think that the best thing to do is go to some book store and look in hte resume section and figure out a format that works for what you are going for.

  • Online resume (Score:2, Informative)

    by djweis (4792)
    There is a nice one at http://www.seekingsuccess.com [seekingsuccess.com].
  • In word, make a resume with each section that you -might- ever use.

    For sections that you might want to abbreviate, provide a second version right there.

    From there, you can make a complete resume with no redundant sections - use the longer version of any sections that you duplicate. This could be the follow-up resume that you bring with you to an interview, or as a response to follow-up questions.

    You can make a concise resume from any sections of the above resume as needed. Just modify this master as necessary, and pull sections that you want towards any specific application.

    Sections that you might want to include in the full, detailed master, might include activities, group memberships, publications, etc... The abridged version could just allude to these.

    Sam Nitzberg
    sam@iamsam.com
    http://www.iamsam.com
    http://www.iamsam.com/resume.html
  • Why write one? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by sharkey (16670)
    Just paste 10+ pages of product names into a Word .doc, then sue anyone who complains when you email it to them. [slashdot.org] That should get the word out about you.
  • Forget the "tools" (Score:2, Informative)

    by red_dragon (1761)

    Many have stated here already: don't rely on those so-called "résumé writers". I wholeheartedly agree with this, since there is no one way of writing a résumé that works for everyone. However, there are some things to know about résumés that do apply to all.

    One of the things that I remember from my tech writing class is the way most people tend to read a résumé. Imagine that you draw two diagonal lines on your average letter- or A4-sized piece of paper from each corner to the opposite corner, thus dividing the page into four triangles. Of these, the topmost triangle is always the one to be read first; if the HR droid has not found anything interesting from a quick scan of this small area, chances are your résumé will be chucked into the bin. Of course, this doesn't mean that you must cram your entire résumé into that top 1/4 of the page, but it is best if you try to place the most relevant information within that space.

    Following that, I've found that the following order of items is preferred by HR people:

    • Name, address, contact info;
    • Objective;
    • Skills, in descending order of relevance to the intended job position;
    • Previous work/experience, in reverse chronological order;
    • Educational background;
    • References (optional).

    HTH.

  • I am not my resume.
  • I've just been looking at the curve document class for LaTeX and it seems to be very well suited for what you want to do. You can grab it from CTAN [ctan.org].

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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