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Resumes for New Grads? 91

CastrTroy asks: "I recently graduated from the software engineering program at the University of Ottawa. With 4 terms of experience, and good marks, I am still unable to even get interviews for jobs. What makes a good resume? I've gotten some good pointers from people I know, but it just doesn't seem to be working. Is there something that works really well for technically related jobs? What is a good way to include skills that I don't have on-the-job experience with? Some people say 3 pages is too much, while others say their resume is 25 pages. Are there any actual proven methods for writing good resumes, or is it all just hit and miss"
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Resumes for New Grads?

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  • by gokeln ( 601584 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:31PM (#9468639)
    Fluency in Hindi.
  • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:31PM (#9468645)
    as short as possible while still highlighting your skills. Remember, recruiters are busy people, and they usually spend a very small amount of time per resume(unless they are interested). Sometimes your resume may even get filtered out by computer.
    Your best bet is to make a tight, targeted resume. Flooding monster or hotjobs with generic resumes probably won't get you very far. Find the jobs you think you are most suited for, and go for them! And of course, networkin never hurts either!
    Happy hunting!
    • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:46PM (#9468761) Journal

      as short as possible while still highlighting your skills. Remember, recruiters are busy people, and they usually spend a very small amount of time per resume(unless they are interested).

      That's very true and there are other reasons for keeping your resume short. Quite frankly, if you cannot tell me the important things about yourself in a single page, I shudder to think of the mounds of documentation you will produce when I ask you to summarize your recent progress on the project you are working on. A succinct resume is a demonstration of your ability to quickly identify the most important parts of something (in this case: you) and communicate those clearly and effectively. I believe that a good resume indicates a focused mind and an ability to cut through the crap and get to the heart of what's important. In addition, when I see resumes over two pages, I get the impression that the applicant is trying to "snow" me with tons of crap. That s/he's trying to bowl me over with quantity rather than quality.

      Your best bet is to make a tight, targeted resume.

      Again, I agree. I'm baffled at how many people just stick a generic "goal" at the top of their resume. Something like "Seeking employment in a challenging field, allowing me to further develop my experience and capabilities" is just a bunch of crap. Who the hell doesn't want a job like that?

      The cover letter can make a big difference as well. There was a recent slashdot story about handwriting and someone pointed out that a handwritten cover letter will make you stand out from the stack. That's something you might try. But definitely explain why you are interested in that particular company in your cover letter -- don't use a generic letter!


      • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:40PM (#9469163) Journal
        Again, I agree. I'm baffled at how many people just stick a generic "goal" at the top of their resume. Something like "Seeking employment in a challenging field, allowing me to further develop my experience and capabilities" is just a bunch of crap. Who the hell doesn't want a job like that?

        As a matter of curiosity, what do you expect up there? How do you justify whatever answer you give in light of the fact that it all boils down to "I want the job you are offering" anyhow?

        I'm an honest person. And while I know it's a disadvantage, I prefer to avoid bullshitting on my resume. Despite significant pondering, I've never managed to figure out what to put there. I've recently settled on "To become a respected software architect" but that still doesn't feel right on a number of levels. For one thing, at my level of experience, the odds of me still being in your company when I get to that point are pretty slim in this economy... although that's as likely to be your doing as mine.

        For another, what do you care about my goals? I know a lot of companies claim to care but the evidence I've seen suggests otherwise.

        Like I said, the only honest thing I've thought of to put in there is "I want to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship where I do a job and you pay me for it, and I'll worry about my own damn goals thank you; if I'm applying for this job you can be assured that I think it is meeting my needs and who are you to decide any differently?"... which of course gets PCed down to the aforementioned "To become a respected software architect".

        ... Maybe I should just say "I want to be your boss"?

        The cover letter I do better with (plenty of experiences to draw from to customize a resume without guilt), as long as I manage to steer clear of the "career goals" issue, but it suffers the same problem: Asking people to talk about "the future" is just begging them to bullshit you, and that includes their hypothetical and malleable-anyways goals. Why not just stick with the past: Where you've worked, what you've accomplished, at most where you are headed right now, and leave vague references to "future goals" alone? Then I don't have to make up absurd rationalizations for "Food and shelter cost money."

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:06PM (#9469293)

          Again, I agree. I'm baffled at how many people just stick a generic "goal" at the top of their resume. Something like "Seeking employment in a challenging field, allowing me to further develop my experience and capabilities" is just a bunch of crap. Who the hell doesn't want a job like that?

          As a matter of curiosity, what do you expect up there? How do you justify whatever answer you give in light of the fact that it all boils down to "I want the job you are offering" anyhow?

          What makes you think you need ANYTHING up there? Why not just leave off the Objective? That goes back to the idea of making your point using as little fluff as possible. If you can't put something really novel there -- and I confess I don't know what that would be -- then just leave it off. It's clutter. Don't just state an objective because everyone else does. This is a resume, not a form. It's your chance to express yourself. There aren't any hard-and-fast rules.

          The cover letter I do better with (plenty of experiences to draw from to customize a resume without guilt), as long as I manage to steer clear of the "career goals" issue, but it suffers the same problem: Asking people to talk about "the future" is just begging them to bullshit you, and that includes their hypothetical and malleable-anyways goals. Why not just stick with the past: Where you've worked, what you've accomplished, at most where you are headed right now, and leave vague references to "future goals" alone? Then I don't have to make up absurd rationalizations for "Food and shelter cost money."

          Questions about long-term goals are pretty stupid and shouldn't be asked. However, they are somewhat related to a much more important question: why are you interested in working for that company. Presemably, it's because you think working for them would be exciting. So, when people ask you about your future goals, you can talk about what types of projects you'd like to be working on. Or, better still, talk about what you'd like to see the company accomplish and feel like you contributed in no small part to that achievement.

          • What makes you think you need ANYTHING up there? Why not just leave off the Objective?

            Actually, I do just that, except when it is explicitly requested.

            Maybe I should just junk those positions; I'm a firm believer in the fact that the relationship is indeed mutual and you are selling me on the company as much as the other way around. Incompetent hiring practices don't bode well; things rarely get better.

            Still, one can't let the list of "things to immediately reject a company for" get too long ;-)
    • Remember, recruiters are busy people

      Not really, there're still hiring freezes on in many corporations. Most recruiters spend the say surfing the web and staring out the windows. The reason a CV has to be good is that it has to be good enough to snap them out of their daydreams, boring CVs are just too much effort for them to pass on. You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

    • Why should humans do job hiring? The computer could and should be able to analyze all PDF resumes in a matter of minutes.

      Why not let a computer give each resume a score based on what's required for the position and simply have the person with the highest score be automatically hired.

      I see no point to having humans do this, or in having an interview process. Humans when it comes to this stuff are just not as efficient as computers and never can be as efficient. This would be equal to using humans to givee
    • I see a LOT of resumes. Short is great, if you've got a lot of job experience which targets the job you're applying for.

      So if you can do short, great.

      BUT YOU CAN'T, BUCKO. You've got no experience. So you need that interview, 'cause we think you're a rank amateur. You'd better show in that resume that you didn't just do the basic class crap we see all the time.

      Talk about projects in complete sentences and make interesting points about them.

      Screeners ARE busy people. They won't read your resume. Or
    • Say you're out with friends people watching, joking about snap, shallow decisions about who you'd do, who you wouldn't do, who's hot, who's not, and why.

      Recruiters' initial glance at resumes is equally shallow. Take it for granted that someone out there has seen your resume and rejected it out of hand, simply because something irritated them about it. Something as simple as your choice of fonts, or maybe even the paper. Or they just don't like it, period. Your piece of paper has about three seconds t

  • by ChibiOne ( 716763 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:31PM (#9468651)
    25 pages? A resume is supposed to give a glimpse of who you are (profesionally speaking), no to tell the story of your life since birth.

    Keep it simple. And I don't mean cryptic. I mean, it must have a clean layout, nice itemized lists instead of clumsy paragraphs of post-modern crappy descriptions of your work. Of course, this doesn't mean you have to write a list like "tech support, programming in Java, computer mainteinance, bla1, bla2, bla3..." either.

    Remember, you have to write something that can give the reader a grasp of who you are in 10 seconds. Otherwise, the whole thing will end up in the trash basket.

    • Remember, you have to write something that can give the reader a grasp of who you are in 10 seconds. Otherwise, the whole thing will end up in the trash basket.

      That's very true.

      Actually, as I understand it from people who do this for a living, you have around 20 seconds to make a first impression on a very quick scan. That's mostly first-page stuff: does this person have roughly the right mix of skills, and do they have roughly the right level of professional and academic experience?

      If you don't get

  • Cover letter! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slappy ( 31445 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:32PM (#9468653)
    It's not all about the resume, though the resume is very important. It's also about the cover letter. I just posted an ad today for a position, and while wading through resumes I've come to cherish the well-written cover letter. Some tips:
    • Let me know you read the ad: reference the content of the ad.
    • Tell me how you fit the bill: Choose one experience, one skill, or one attribute that meets the at least one of the requirements listed in the ad.
    • Express (sincere) interest in the job: try to make it feel like you didn't just respond to this ad because you're desperate for any kind of interview.
    • Don't send your cover letter as an attachment! It should be your email body. Really. I won't read an attached cover letter.
    Make it easy on the hiring person, and you'll improve your chances on having your resume actually read -- and that is what will get you the interview.
    • Re:Cover letter! (Score:2, Insightful)

      Don't send your cover letter as an attachment! It should be your email body. Really. I won't read an attached cover letter.

      I agree with everything except the above statement. Send it as an attachment and in the body of the email, referencing an enclosure of the cover letter.

      Here's what happens at the place I work: After inHuman Resources gets done with initial screening, they print out a copy of the email and any attachments, stamp it and send it via interoffice mail to the hiring department. While the
      • I agree with everything except the above statement. Send it as an attachment and in the body of the email, referencing an enclosure of the cover letter.

        So you want a resume, a cover letter, and a meta-cover-letter? How 'bout a meta-meta-cover-phonecall too, just to make sure it arrived?
        • I got my last job by faxing my cover letter and resume. I also wrote short fax-cover.. a "meta-cover" with about a 3 sentence summary of my "real" cover letter.

          The clincher was that I said in that fax-cover that a hard-copy would follow in the mail. The fact that it did was a big factor with my boss.

          Every piece of your communication should be working to get you an interview.
      • Where I come from, we print out out CV (resume) and covering letter with a laser printer on finest quality A4 paper and post it flat and unfolded first class directly to the person doing the hiring. That way there is no messing about with incompatible word processors, clueless secretarial staff who reformat things before printing, people who don't know what a .zip or .gz or .bz2 file is, or people with flaky old monitors that are set to 640x480 etc. What if their virus scanner doesn't like your attachment?


        • Where I come from, the land where 8 1/2 x 11 still rules, many places no longer accept resumes except through their online application system. If you're lucky, you can attach a PDF or DOC, but all too-often, it's a crappy text-only-paste-it-in-the-webform that you get to do.
  • SE (Score:3, Funny)

    by mtigges ( 24764 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:32PM (#9468655) Homepage
    The problem is that your resume says Software Engineering.
  • Some Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benwb ( 96829 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:40PM (#9468710)
    For an entry level position just out of school you really need to keep your resume to one page. It sounds like you don't have a great deal of work experience, so you should probably put your academic experience first. If you took any particularly challenging classes you may want to break them out much like you would with challenging projects from a job.

    In todays market you can probably expect to send out about a hundred resumes per interview. Work any friends and family that you have- even if they're just acquaintances. Start sending your resume to large corporations- they're always hiring, even if they haven't posted anything, and you may catch someone in the right mood.

    Skills sections will show up on hits when recruiters do searches, but they tend to be ignored when your resume is actually sitting in front of a real person. Try to work any skills you have into the context in which you used them. If you implemented some stuff for fun definitely put in a section of personal projects. When I'm looking at fresh from college resumes that's a definite plus, as I know the person actually enjoys development.
    • Re:Some Advice (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Carnildo ( 712617 )
      Coming out of school, my resume was two pages, but that was because it included:

      • Three prior jobs
      • A published paper and two conference presentations
      • Hobby work on two open-source projects
  • Recruiters make money by selling you. In Canada anyway, they typically only get paid if they place you and you meet expectations. They benefit by from your resume being up to par.

    Interview your recruiters closely, and talk to their previous hires. Get an idea of what worked before, and what the recruiter is willing to do to make you sellable (ie better resume). If you're worth it, they will help you.

    Like any profession, some recruiters can be really good at what they do, and others can be just useles
  • None (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:45PM (#9468749)
    Here's what you need to worry about on your resume: Is everything spelled correctly, laid out in a pleasing manner, one or two, three pages tops. In your situation, a resume doesn't matter.

    Unless you were involved in some crazy groundbreaking research, went to an extremely prestigious school that will make a mark based on the name (Ivy League, Cal Tech/MIT/etc.), or work on some readily recognizable OSS in your spare time, your resume is about as good as it's going to get provided you follow the rules above.

    Now for the fun part: Remember that cliche about "it isn't what you know, it's who you know?" It didn't achieve cliche status without having a bit of truth. Two of my friends graduated last Spring. One had a pretty good GPA and a degree in Chemical Engineering. Hadn't programmed since High School. He's now a consultant with Accenture, doing minor programming work on site for pretty nice cash, considering he's a first year employee. The other day he mentioned how one of the guys he had graduated with had a better GPA, better extra-curriculars, and sends out a shitload of resumes with no result (He was bemoaning the economy). I answered to him that the reason he ended up with that job was that he showed up everytime Accenture came to campus, be it for some random business school speaking engagement, or at career fairs. He came to be known by the guys there. The second friend graduated at the same time with a BS in EE. He spent about 5 months working on getting hired with one of about three different places, and now he works on the ISS at NASA. A third friend did approximately the same thing, and now works for the State Department (I think, long story but I suspect he works for a more clandestine side of the executive branch, but having had relatives in those positions I know he can't tell me if he does).

    These guys are not geniuses, they both went to state schools (albeit good ones, and the third went Ivy League, so I consider his example less representative), and they're not the sort who were posting Summa Cum Laude grades at graduation. In short, they're probably just like you.

    So what you need to do is this: Take a look at the companies operating in the region in which you want to be hired. Pick two or three good ones, and make sure to read up on corporate (or govt.) culture, benefits, etc. Know them well. Now start finding out ways to make contacts with the people there. Do their developers participate in some SIG around town? Go get to know them. Speak to guys who might be responsible for recommending a new-hire, but make sure you aren't hounding people. A lot of jobs aren't filled in a position->applicant order, but rather the other way around. In other words, a lot of times a team might need another hand, or a particular task that you're well suited at might need an entry-level programming position. The company probably wouldn't actively go and create a job advertisment, post on, etc., but if one of the devs says, "hey, there's that guy I remember from the Linux/Graphics/Networking SIG who could probably help us out", the job will be "created".

    At the risk of sounding like some crappy self-help speaker, when you're trying to get a job, you're essentially acting a salesperson, and the product you're selling is yourself. Right now, you're basically a commodity product, nothing but a slightly-better-than-average list of achievements on paper. Your job is to provide that extra push, in whatever way you can, to put yourself above commodity status.

    Oh yeah, and please ditch that "objective: To obtain a position in..." section. God I wish those things would go away on resumes. Everyone of them is the same canned line that does nothing but take up space better devoted to anything.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh yeah, and please ditch that "objective: To obtain a position in..." section. God I wish those things would go away on resumes. Everyone of them is the same canned line that does nothing but take up space better devoted to anything.

      I hear you, pal. I once had an applicant in my office hand me her resume. Her objective was something along the lines of wanting to apply the knowledge of communications technologies she learned in grad school to real world problems. Sounds great, right? Just a tiny prob

    • Re:None (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) *
      First real job, right out of university: Walked into the office of a nearby startup ISP, asked if they needed a good UNIX systems programmer, interviewed by the CTO that afternoon, started the next week. Now, the thing is, I'd also been down the traditional route, sending out letters and CVs - but by the time any of them called, I'd already signed. Didn't hurt that I was friends-of-friends with a few of the other staff, tho' I didn't know it beforehand.

      Second job: A friend called me, said he needed someone
      • Seconded; anybody grounded in reality will tell you it's not what you know, it's who you know. Friend of a friend, back door, what is euphamistically called the 'hidden job market' by trainers in such things.

        Want a job? Pop onto your favourite mailing list for your profession and let it be known that you're hiring. Tell your friends who work for companies, in ANY capacity, what you're looking for; all it takes is one dropped comment by the water cooler, and you get that magic call.

        • Thirded; :-) Plus a dose of karmic chaos.

          I started working professionally in 1980 (while I was still in undergrad), and in all this time since then I have never gotten a job by sending out resumes blindly; every job was due to contacts, accidental and intentional.

          There was one summer between semesters when I was trying to get an internship anywhere. I needed money bad for school. I sent out several hundred resumes. I've keep the rejects in a box to remind me how useless that tactic is. On top of al

          • Exactly!

            One day, several years ago, I was bitching during a game of StarCraft about how little the gov't was paying me. One of the guys, an acquaintance, said 'well, what do you do for a living?'

            I rattled off my skills, and he said 'shit, we need you. Fax me a resume, tomorrow. Here's the number....'

            Turns out the guy was head of the tech support department for a Texas tech company. Within a few weeks, having then flown from Ontario to Texas for an interview, I had an offer in hand for literally tw

  • by jgardn ( 539054 ) <> on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:50PM (#9468785) Homepage Journal
    Target your resume for the job you want. Write a different resume tailored for each job you apply for. Be humble, yet confident, and only mention relevant skills.

    Think: What do they want? What do I have that they want? Write down everything you can think of, and then turn it into a 30-second commercial slot. Pound on those few points solidly, and leave the rest as dressing. Avoid things they might not want. Definitely avoid negative things.

    For instance, if I were applying for a software engineering position at, say, Microsoft, in C++. I would highlight all of the experience I had writing C++ code, emphasize the project's I've worked on, and bullet point the various things I've done in relation to coding. The "dressing" will be where I've worked (relevant places only -- NOT McDonald's), what college I've graduated from, what degree and what my GPA was, and what my other skills or hobbies are.

    Think of your resume more as an ad: You have to hire me because I will bring your company $$$! Sell yourself!
  • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:53PM (#9468808) Homepage

    For someone fresh out of college with no work experience, there's absolutely no reason to have a resume that's more than one page. No offense, but you probably haven't done anything worth taking that much of the reviewer's time.

    List your coursework and your strengths. Describe some of the relevant projects you've done for class. You can list summer-job type work experience, but if all of it was just flipping burgers don't dwell on it. On the other hand, if you've interned or done anything related to your field, play it up!

    If you've done anything applicable outside of schoolwork, be sure to list that! That's what's going to catch someone's eye. When I'm looking at resumes I give top priority to people who have technical hobbies. It shows that they really like this stuff, and aren't merely going to be punching a clock.

    Also, make sure you send out resumes. Lots of resumes. To anyone and everyone. I graduated in 1988 with a BSEE degree from a respected university []. Jobs were easier to find then, but I still ended up sending out over 400 resumes. That netted me only a handful of interviews, and a huge pile of FOAD letters. You know how I got my first real job? Through a friend-of-a-friend, who happened to have also graduated from my school ten years before. That's right, in the end good ol' social networking gets you the most action.

    All I can say is keep at it. Definitely get involved in some sort of activity related to the work you want to do, if only to keep your knowledge fresh. Send out lots of resumes. And especially, chat up your friends and see who's hiring.

    • Starving new IT graduate.
      Knows how to use computers.
      Will work for food.
      Have passport, can relocate.
    • Also, make sure you send out resumes. Lots of resumes...You know how I got my first real job? Through a friend-of-a-friend, who happened to have also graduated from my school ten years before.

      So your advice is to send out resumes...even if that's not how you got your first real job? I'm not saying this isn't good advice but I'm just astounded by what some people try to pass off as a good argument.
      • I wasn't trying to argue one against the other. They're both good ideas. Send out lots of resumes. And, schmooze the social network. The two aren't mutually exclusive, they complement one another. Get your interviews any way you can.

  • I might be bitter and jaded from living in Portland, OR, but you have 4 terms experience, and you're surprised you can't find a job? There are people with degrees and certs coming out their ass around here that are out of jobs.
  • Passion? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Are there any actual proven methods for writing good resumes, or is it all just hit and miss"

    Make certain you get a resume writer who has a passion for his/her work.

    Don't give me that look. If it applies here []? Then it applies to this situation too.
  • Short and Focused (Score:3, Informative)

    by mgoff ( 40215 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:07PM (#9468934)
    As a new college grad, your resume should not be any longer than a single page. Screeners are spending less than a minute on each resume-- they're not going to waste time paging through tons of detail. Here's a few tips I think will help you be successful:
    • Cusomize your resume as much as possible for every position. What industry is the company in? Highlight non-engineering experiences you have that would help you (as a programmer) in that sector. Of course, you don't have time to rewrite your resume for every employer, but a little tweaking (with the right buzzwords) can help your resume get a few more seconds of attention.
    • Focus, focus, focus. Pretend you're the employer; do you really care that a candidate was a lifeguard in high school? Probably not. Do you care that he or she provided weekly status reports in his last internship? Again, probably not. Remember, resume screeners are skimming your resume. They're not going to read every word. Make sure that most of the words on there are valuable. Leave off obvious stuff. It's great that you know how to use Windows XP and Microsoft Offce, but those skills are assumed.
    • Bullet your accomplishments. For every job/school, list a short summary of your primary duties so that the screener knows what the role was. Then, give a list of bullets that show concrete accomplishments in that role. Things like "reduced cycle time by 15% by restructuring development process" or "wrote credit card transaction module for BuyFast middleware on time with zero errors, as verified by validation team."
    • Links. Done online work? Why not include a link? Especially if you're on the UI or creative side, if your resume makes it past the first cut, a look at your work might get you an interview. On that same note, if you do provide a link to your web site, make sure everything is Safe for Work (tm). That picture of you puking off a balcony might be hilarious to you and your friends, but not so much for a potential employer. Same thing for blogs.
    • Have a few friends proofread it.
    • You've got one chance to make a first impression. Make sure it's a good one. Nothing will get you in the "NO" pile faster than misspellings and grammatical errors. Even one. No matter how much of a perfectionist you are, you will miss your own errors. Have a few people read over your final draft for you. Yes, it's embarrasing-- but less so than moving back in to your parents' basement when you run out of money.
    • Consider adding relevant nonwork experience. Don't limit yourself to programming experience. Show an employer that you've got the skills they need to work for them, including teamwork, leadership, creativity, networking, and influence. Don't just throw them on there-- you need to spin how it will help you in your career as a programmer. This one is a little trickier to use (and still follow the other advice above), so use carefully.

    I used to be a resume consultant for younger sutudents when I was in grad school and am willing to provide brief help if anyone wants to email me. I've put a decent amount of time into crafting my own resume-- it's online, but I fear the mockery of the Slashdot community. If anyone's interested in an example that follows the notes above, email me and I'll send the link.

    Good luck!
    • That's not strictly true. Some college graduates have a lot of experience and skills which would warrant two or more pages.
      • I'm sure some people do, but most resume screeners won't look at anything past the first page. If someone does go longer than a page (which I still do not recommend), he or she needs to carefully prioritize to get the important information on the first page. While some college grads do have lots of experience and skills, I don't agree that they should all go on the resume. Resumes should be focused-- a cruel fact of recruiting is that screeners have more resumes than time.

        Personal opinion: the only peop
  • short and simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:08PM (#9468940)
    recruiters want a resume they can scan for keywords and they want to know how long you've been using a particular tool/skill. if the position is in a specialized industry then the tool/skill may refer to a specific product or protocol.

    imho the best length is 2 full pages, about 100 lines. if your experience of talent can't fill this up, you need to indulge a little. if it's longer, you need to cut out the fluff. they don't want your life story.

    keywords are important. if a recruiter is looking for a c++ or java coder then they don't want to spend 2 minutes reading your resume, trying to figure out if you've ever used them before. they want to see those keywords easily in your resume and then if they do, how much experience you have. after the basic quantitative evaluation, they'll like take a look at the major projects you've listed off. the more impressive-sounding the claims, the more likely you'll get a call.

    remember that if you're young with no real-world experience, no matter how important you make yourself sound, you will not look better than someone who has 5 years of experience, unless perhaps your reputation precedes you (about %0.0001 of people). no matter how cool your final project was or how much better you were than the rest of your class. you're entry level and when you find a job it will be entry level unless you have a rich family member who owns a business (perhaps 2% of people). for the other 97.9999%, keep blasting out those resumes

    as for actually find a job, just keep trying... my girlfriend looked for a job for months before she got lucky and found a place where an ex-colleague was in a position to hire and she got the job. the old "it's not what you know it's who you know" story. try checking with people you or your family or friends know; your highest probability for employment (note: not best jobs) is likely with someone you already know... although i did that twice through friends of my dad and they were both shitty jobs. good luck!

  • I'm in a similar situation and just graduated from university in computer science. The thing that really has worked for me is focusing on experience. Anything will do as long as you put it right. Summer jobs, working in classes or labs, or projects you did in class. Saying "I did this cool project all by myself" is a lot more interesting than "I did some courses and got good grades".
    You want to work as a consultant ? Then focus on stuff someone asked you to do and that you succeded in delivering it and so
  • You're fresh out of college and applying to an entry-level job. If you give them a 3 page resume, you're going to be taken about as seriously as a guy whose shoulder says 'private' but whose chest is covered in badges and medals.

    Make a one-page resume. Customize it to the particular job, and make it as easy to read as possible. The very first rule is to look at the template resumes that come with Microsoft Word and make sure that your resume looks nothing like any of them, because most of those are desi
  • Advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by Inexile2002 ( 540368 ) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:22PM (#9469041) Homepage Journal
    He used to get around 50-100 resumes a week even when he didn't have a job posting up or any availabilities. Basically, IF he looked at them at all, he wouldn't spend more than 3-5 seconds with any given resume. The layout has to be clean and really easy to follow. There's very little that can be interesting or eye catching about a resume, but that said the good stuff has be OBVIOUS.

    Basically though, in this job market, resumes basically resemble spam. Sending companies resumes is not really an effective way to get a job. Start calling people at the company, and don't be afraid to be a little pushy. Don't be afraid of approaching the same company multiple times, especially if you can talk to different people. Network like crazy. Everyone in your life up to and including your aunt's neighbor's mailman should know you're looking for a job and what kind of job you want.

    A good resume is really a springboard for the kinds of questions you want them to ask you in the job interview.

    As for the basic format considerations, go for information density on a single page. Bold key terms that you want people to notice right away, but embed them in sentences so they're not just looking at lists. I don't like lists of just words, but used to have a section titled "Other Technical Skills" where I put the stuff I wasn't emphasizing.

    If you're really convinced that you're doing everything else right and it's the resume that's holding you back, go hire a service. They're cheap and they do decent work. Or do what I did, look at like 20 other people's resumes and steal the format of the best one.

    One other thing that a friend did that was a little weird, but worked. She got the name of a manager at a company in her field, called him and sold him the following line. "I understand that you're not hiring right now, but it's a lean market and I want an edge on my competition. Do you have a project that I could be involved with as an intern? I understand that you probably couldn't pay much if you can pay at all, but at least I can start building up experience and if you love me, and trust me, you're going to, you can offer me something when it comes up." It was ballsy but she pulled it off and later parlayed it into a job with one of their competitors.

    Maybe it's not for everyone, but the moral of the story is that a one or two page piece of paper is a weak way to job hunt. Start thinking about what else you can do and don't sweat your resume.
  • In truth, all great jobs are far too valuable to be given away to perfect strangers. As well, the employment industry is generally quite expensive and ineffective unless you are over-qualified and don't require help anyways.

    Talk to everyone you know or ever met, especially family and friends. Failing that, take a temp position and make friends quick. Failing that, take some more courses, one's that have an on-job work experience component. Initiate personal contact with instructors, well connected students
  • I'm back in school now myself but I did college recruiting and was involved in a lot of hiring decisions.

    Keep it short. One or at most two pages. If you had two pages it better have summer job details or discussion of some major class or personal projects you work on. Did you have a senior project?

    keywords, Keywords, KEYWORDS. Unfortunately, the people/machines/managers than often process incoming resumes tend to look for certain keywords. J2EE. C++. I usually put this in a skills section on the bottom, l
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:51PM (#9469224) Homepage
    Eric Kibbee
    716-169 Lees Avenue, Ottawa Ontario, K1S 5M2 Phone: (613) 612-7561 Email:

    A new Software Engineering graduate looking for an introductory software development position. Participated in the co-operative education program, which provided four terms of directly related and progressive experience. A strong team player, as evidenced by excellent grades on the program's major final year team project.

    Bachelor of Applied Science, Software Engineering 1999 - 2004
    University Of Ottawa
    Participated in co-operative education programme
    Graduated Magna Cum Laude

    Build Manager
    Software Engineering Final Project
    January - December 2003
    Final year project that was part of the program that followed all the steps of the software development life cycle
    Developed on an on-line document management system
    Designated role was Build Manager, but also participated in all aspects of the project
    Used ASP and Visual Basic with MS Access as a database
    Completed the project on schedule and met all required performance criteria
    Achieved a mark of "A" in the course based on customer satisfaction, documentation of the system and quality assurance presentations

    Web Developer
    Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP)
    May - August 2003
    Responsible for the upkeep and development of new features on the department Intranet site
    Used Visual Basic .Net and MS SQL Server to develop applications for use by the department employees
    Provided a high level of service and consistent performance of the Intranet
    Developed new tools such as an employee directory and an events calendar

    Web Developer
    Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
    August - December 2002
    Development of a web based financial tracking application
    Used ASP with an MS Access database to allow for data entry and retrieval.
    A significant portion of the job was to meet with clients and users to obtain new requirements and resolve existing problems
    Project completed on schedule and provided targeted functionality

    Web Developer
    Environment Canada (EC)
    January - April 2002
    Responsible for working on many of EC's Intranet and Extranet web pages
    Used JavaScript to create interactive menus for the website
    Completed a major update to the on-line version of the health and safety manual
    Developed and implemented a Java based employee training application

    Software Developer
    Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC)
    May - August 2001
    Responsible for reverse engineering an N-tier e-commerce web application
    Worked jointly with a second software engineering student on the project
    Analyzed the application that used a variety of technologies including ASP, VB, MS IIS, SQL, XML and COM
    The reverse engineering of the application was successfully completed
    Developed skills with the above technologies and improved technical writing skills


    Web Development - Experienced in web development with HTML, ASP, VB/VB.NET, and PHP
    Database Development - Experienced in database development with MS SQL Server, MS Access, and MySQL.

    Application Development - Experienced in applications development for both Windows and Linux, in a variety of programming languages including C/C++, Java, Delphi, and Visual Basic

    Whoever reads your resume is going to do so from the perspective of someone who needs X Y and Z, and needs it now. People are looking for a condensed skill section like "PHP, ASP, VB/VB.NET, HTML" (Don't lead with HTML). Your skills section is good, and would be a good leader, though it needs to be less wordy. Give me a list of what you can do. Remember, this list is targeting two peo
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:20PM (#9469377)
    GET A JOB!!!

    (and minor in Business, not Math!)

    I was 15 at the time, but I worked for $60 a week washing dishes. It gave me the confidence and understanding of the business world to be a "go getter".

    I did the college thing, and while I did it I was working at tech-related jobs/consulting gigs here and there. Learning how the business world worked (as droll and drab as it may sound), is actually quite valuable. Learn about sales and marketing and it will help you sell your skillset and accomplishments to employers. I've only really had to "seek" work once (maybe twice) in my professional career. Every other time a job/headhunter has either come to me, or a friend of a peer, etc has offered me a job.

    It's worth noting that about 70% of all [US] jobs are obtained via personal networking, and references.

    Don't be anti-social!

    • You might want to read What Colour Is Your Parachute. Resumes will get you a job 2% of the time. A method for getting a job 80% of the time is to simply walk in, ask to talk to the boss, and ask for a job face to face.
  • In four years of study you didn't have a *single* class on resume writing, interviewing, and presentation skills? The dean of your particular school should be beat around the head and neck for not providing you with any education on how to get a job.
    • Classes in "getting a job" are the domain of truck driving, cosmetology, and welding schools, not universities. However, there should be a placement office outside of campus that provides just the services you describe for current students and alumni.
      • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @11:58PM (#9470437)
        You can believe what you want, but a Placement Office with a dog-eared 5yr old book on resume writing and a database of potential jobs isn't enough. A resume is a requirement. A good resume is a leg up. An excellent resume and the skills to conduct yourself in an exemplary manner during an interview are necessity for landing a good job.

        There's nothing 'vocational' about it. Resume writing and interviewing are skills a person needs to get a job. College is the place where you learn those skills. It makes *sense* to have classes in such things. I went to a Big-10 college and earned a Bachelor of Science. It wasn't a vocational school and the department has an almost 100% placement rate within the first 3 months after graduation....without having to push students through the campus placement office. One of the first things we learned in the class is that resume spamming and using an over-taxed resource like a Placement Office are the absolute *WORST* ways to go about getting an interview.

        I had a required class my senior year that covered resume writing (relevent to my major), portfolio layout and creation, and mock interviewing (with representatives from the industry for which I was going to be entering).

        I'm in a position in my career now where I look at resumes and portfolios;many from recent college grads wanting to get their foot in the door. It is very easy to see which people have been taught the necessary skills to present themselves effectively. Unfotunately they the minority of the resumes I receive. I can honestly say, though, that the people who can present themselves well have a *huge* competitive advantage over the regular folks who think the Word Resume Wizard and a clumsy cover letter will get you a job.

        You can belittle such required college classes all you want. I know, from experience, that the class I took was one of the more important classes I attended.

  • by poofmeisterp ( 650750 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @10:18PM (#9469798) Journal
    Try submitting your resume to fields other than your target. It seems that people with skills unrelated to IT work seem to get the IT jobs, and the IT-minded people with valuable skills seem to end up working at Burger King. Along those lines, modify your resume to include a bunch of non-IT work and skills.

    Also, don't let them know that you're intelligent. If you give them that impression, they will fear that you will realize how messed-up their processes and procedures are and point them out and try to change them. You have to pretend you're completely incompetent and will never have an opinion on anything, but rather just do as you're told.

    I speak from personal experience.
    • Also, don't let them know that you're intelligent. If you give them that impression, they will fear that you will realize how messed-up their processes and procedures are and point them out and try to change them. You have to pretend you're completely incompetent and will never have an opinion on anything, but rather just do as you're told.

      What a load of crap ! If you want a job where you are considered like a drone, then abide by this advice. Otherwise, just be yourself and you will get the job that su

    • How true. I remember a place I used to work for where the interviewers were afraid to say "yes" to anyone that seemed brighter than they were because they were afraid that this person might take their job or advance faster than themselves. I personally don't believe in this philosophy, but corporate culture definitely drives weird behaviors.
  • Core dump. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gregh76 ( 121243 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @10:19PM (#9469805)
    Don't core dump on your resume. A resume is a teaser. Its purpose is to capture interest. Keep it to one page as much as possible. A prospective employer doesn't want to sit there reading your life story when they have a stack of other resumes to go through. Save the details for the interview and, perhaps, a summary of qualifications, which you should have handy when you go to the interview. Targeted resumes are very important. One thing that makes me cringe is seeing people write out these long lists of operating systems, programming langauges, applications, office suites, and the like. Lists like those are meaningless. Instead, under your job experience list, give a short description of what you did and include the relevant OSs/langs/apps/suites. But again, keep it brief and maintain scope. Drop the generic mission statements. A good interviewer will guage how well-rounded you are, so leave those lists off the resume, too. Briefness, specifics, and relevance are what you should concentrate on. Forget the fancy fonts. Keep the layout neat and readable. It's a resume, not a royal proclamation. This has worked very well for me. And remember, be sure you can back up and immediately recollect anything you write on your resume. Think of it this way. Your resume is like the front page of a newspaper, the headlines, the stuff that makes you buy the paper. Interviews and everything else are the rest of the newspaper, the juicy details.
  • Don't underestimate the power of an excellent cover letter. Not some generic form letter that you fill in the blanks for each prospective PHB^M^M^Memployer but a well written cover letter. Get help if you are not clear on why a qualifies as an excellent letter, take a class or do it the American Way(tm), pay someone. I know a few HR people, cover letters are important.
  • Humor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @02:17AM (#9470974) Journal
    Well it worked for me. About 50% of the time I did get an interview. This was during the bubble and after.

    I basically don't have an education/diploma and am a late comer to the IT. So a proper CV would be kinda thin.

    So I add some stuff that every human resource monkey will tell you is a no-no and hope the CV is read by the tech-head/director/someone with clue/non-tie person instead. Stuff like a Q&A section. Birthday-???? School of life. Diploma not yet. (note that I mean humor, it is not comedy) Most of my jobs HR said no, boss and tech department said YES. I only get in trouble once the tech department is reorganized.

    Granted I work as a web-developer wich is perhaps an area in wich a bit of creativity is more appreciated then in other fields. You wouldn't accept a simple CV from a designer would you? Your CV will be read among dozen of others, some more capable some less. What you need to do is grab their attention make them curious. Curious enough to want to find out if your the right person. If they are any good they can train you in skills you don't yet have (language, dev tool, eviroment) but they can't teach you to be creative. Nor can they teach you if they never hire you because your cv looked good but didn't spark an interest.

    Also another rule seems to be to not list your negatives. WRONG. Honesty works. Works in two ways. First you don't have to bother remembring your lies. Second you can never be caught out telling the truth.

    But the most important is this question. If you got to bend youreselve over backwards in the CV what kinda loops do you have to jump through in the job itself? Make the CV reflect who you are. Then the person they invite will be you. Not some superman you dreamed up and can never be in real life.

    Last trick, rate the skills that they absolutly require honestly but at the level they ask. So if they ask PHP excellent and you have it list it as such. But don't brag. Be moderate with the rest. If they are smart they will ask you some questions relating to the skills they want and it is better to have them rate you upwards of what you have put down then have them rate you down. (I find that just listing all your skills is a stupid thing to do, it just doesn't tell them anything HR monkeys love it, tech people know it to be a bragging list, rate the skills as to how well you know them and don't be afraid to rank youreselve a noob)

    So basically, be yourselve, show some sense of humor, be modest, don't tell lies and above all, DO NOT FEAR REJECTION. And finally (longer post then I intended) don't blanket bomb. Certain companies will just never hire you. Your personality will just not match what they want. I got long hair and look like something the cat brought in and then brought up. Suit companies don't want me, they do invite me because they like my skills but they want someone in a suit. It is funny to do these interviews because of the reaction on their faces.

  • What makes a good resume?

    The number-one characteristic of a good resume is the year of publication. Release your resume in 1987, you'll definitely get a job. Same for 1998. From personal experience, I can say that 1975 was a poor choice, and of course you already know that the Bush II era is really bad. 2006 will probably be good.

    Seriously, I think the most important advice I can give you is that you shouldn't let the failures get you down. I know how discouraging it is, but realize that your curre

  • That's all, just ask them... They might have
    asked their boss's what got them in (or have
    heard or worked it out for themselves...)

    Don't ask me... it's been too long since then :-)
    • Or do what I did. I happened to know an HR guy that went to my church. I asked him I could talk to the IT director about how he/she first got a job and what they look for. I never directly asked anybody for a job. Four weeks later, someone got canned in IT and guess who was the 1st person the IT Director thought of? Me. So now I work in the IT department of a hospital and have been for nearly a year and a half.
  • Go check out the Jobs Blog at Microsoft: The authors are great people, and have really good advice on this sort of topic.
  • Much more important than marks are all the part time jobs you had whle studying that were related to your field so focus on them. Didnt have any? Oh dear.. You might want to spend a couple of years getting some work experience as a volunteer first. After all work involves actual work, not sitting exams.

    Also dont apply through the email. You really must send in a printed copies of your CV, with photo, and application letter. And keep it brief. Hobbies and interests are no longer required unless related to t
  • My old grandpappy taught me the most important lesson in job acquistion:

    You can slide furthur on bullshit than you can on concrete.

    Now, there's a difference between bullshitting and lying.

    Well, they aren't the kind of guys
    who write letters. You were outside!
    I was inside! You were to keep in
    touch with the band. I kept askin'
    ya' if we were gonna play again.

    What was I gonna do? ... take away
    your hope? ... take away the thing
    what kept ya' goin' in there? I
    bullshitted you, okay?

    See, the diff
  • For an entry level candidate, you should have no more than one page. Anything else just shows your arrogant. There are a lot of people who are a lot smarter than you. There are reasons why most recruiters only want one page but just accept this for now.

    You want to have an aestically pleasing resume. You should look at it and immediately notice whatever you are most proud of. You'll want to make very clear your past work experience and especially the skills you possess.

    Most recruiters run through resu
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @01:09PM (#9472930) Homepage Journal
    You are fresh out of school - one page.

    Hell, I have been an engineer for 17 years, and I would try to keep my resumee down to 3 pages!

    First pass, your resumee will get about 10 seconds of review, if that. If I cannot extract the meaningful information in that length of time, bu-bye.

    If you are using a head-hunting service, they WILL hammer the shit out of your resumee - it will look like absolute CRAP when they are done with it (scan it, OCR it, condense it, fax it, convert it back to a PDF). True, IF you are sending your resumee directly to the company you need to make sure it is cleanly printed, preferably on a good high bond weight paper. But don't be like Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes - a shiny binder and pretty paper will not disguise the absense of content.

    You need to play up whatever experience you have - even if it was just washing dishes or pushing a lawnmower for a parks department (those items are autobiographical). Demonstrating a good work ethic at a crap job is STILL very valuable.

    But DON'T exaggerate yourself - you may have taking Signal Processing 101, but you don't know CRAP about signal processing yet (substitute anything from your own education you want). I cannot count the number of times I've interviewed someone who said "C++ experience" on their resumee who could not tell me the difference between IS-A and HAS-A, or even what a class is!

    Since you are staring out, you DO need to tell me where in general you want to go - a one or two sentence goals section is helpful. Be real, be specific - "I want to develop Web applications for public use" or "I want to be a technical writer" is good, "I want to excel in creating software" is bad.

    Apply for approrpiate jobs. I had a candidate come in the other day - she had been an engineer for some time, but had basically been doing mostly apps level work. She had studied DSP in school, and wanted to get more into that. Unfortunately, she was applying for a senior DSP position. She wasted our time and airfare for the second interview, and that makes us LESS likely to hire her.
    I am going to give you the three most important words any technical person can learn, right now. Study them well:

    I don't know.

    I'd FAR rather deal with somebody who is willing to say they don't know (but are willing to try to find out) than to deal with somebody who is unwilling to EVER admit ignorance. Hell, I am one of the "go-to guys" at work, I *do* know the answers most of the times, but I still often have to say "I don't know, that is not my field of expertise - I can look it up, or you might talk to [person] as they would know more about it"

    One last piece of advice: Be trustworthy. Be the sort of person your supervisor can say "This needs to be done. Handle it." and feel that it will be handled. If you have problems, by all means ask for help - but make sure that what has been assigned to you gets done - if not by you then by somebody. One of the best job recommendations I had was from the foreman at the Parks department - while all of the other summer help fuckoffs needed constant supervision to insure they did their jobs and weren't out joyriding or smoking dope, he knew he could just say "The city building needs work today." and I would do it - quickly, properly, and professionally - the Mayor would not be calling about me screwing off.
    • I cannot count the number of times I've interviewed someone who said "C++ experience" on their resumee who could not tell me the difference between IS-A and HAS-A

      I've been programming C++ for 10 years, and had no idea what IS-A and HAS-A was until I looked it up and realized you meant inheritance vs containment. Never used that terminology. I mean, I would say "This class has an is a relationship with that class", but I would never call it "IS-A" and expect people to instantly recognize it out of contex
  • I have taught for 23 years, and have teaching/technical certifications. My resume is one page. On a second sheet, I have references, publications, presentations. Everything is tightly edited, and they only get high points. Any idiot in HR can scan the thing to see if I meet job requirements. They can ask for detail in the interview.

    I was an assistant principal for a while, and I had all the scheduling and disciplinary duties that go with such a position. I don't bother listing the specifics. They either al
  • As you can see from the responses, different people look for different things. Here is my take on resumes. First, your resume will be reviewed by someone in HR. They will look for specific qualifications, like C++ or Java. So be sure to list all of the languages and CS courses you have taken. If you get past HR, your resume will go to a manager of some sort. They will be real impressed if you mention something specific about the company, preferably in a well written cover letter. Finally, you resume

  • The ability to miss pell code in sophtware and talk badly about America. It would help if you could work for three and a half cents a day, eat stale bread and dirty water, and somewhere around 90 hours per week.

    I recall an article on Yahoo about HP hiring primarily Indian workers for exactly those reasons. I can't personally comment, however, I've heard numerous complaints both externally and internally about the quality of service from support staff in foreign countries. In relation, other companies su

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik