As part of my job as a software architect and manager, I review resumes of both contractors and prospective employees. I'll frequently do technical screens based on project requirements. Over the years, I've seen some absolutely horrible resumes and I've come up with a short list of things you should be checking for on your resume before ever submitting it for consideration for a job.
Here's a public service announcement for anyone creating a technical resume, based on some disastrous resumes I just looked at:
- Summarize your work. A 4 month long project is not worthy of half a page on your resume. I've been doing this job for almost 30 years and my resume is 3 pages long. If you really want to go into detail on a project, put it on your blog. No one reads past the first few pages anyway.
- If you are copying and pasting bullet points between projects I AM GOING TO NOTICE, especially if you repeat the same typo or bad grammar. I'm smarter than the resume search engine filters... spamming keywords under a project description is going to have the opposite effect on me.
- I've seen too many examples where the list of technologies on the project could not have possibly been used at the same time on the same project. For instance, you're not going to find Windows Server 2008 running with SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2016, which I saw on a recent resume I looked at.
- If you list one technology, like SQL Server, telling me that you also used SQL is a waste of space, as is telling me that you created stored procedures and built tables. It's keyword spamming and it's annoying.
- Any technology that is 10 years old doesn't belong on your resume. I really don't care if you used Visual Studio 2002 or Visual SourceSafe 6.0. The same thing goes for projects that were more than 10 years ago. Just put a line saying that "Additional Project History available on request" so it doesn't look like you're hiding what you did.
- Spelling, punctuation, and grammar MATTER. If you're looking for a software architect job and you can't spell architect correctly, it shows a complete lack of attention to detail.
- If you don't spell the name of the technology correctly and capitalized as the vendor decided, I question whether you've actually used it. It's not Nhibernet or nHibernate, it's NHibernate. If you don't know for sure, look it up at the vendor website. There is no such thing as .Net, it's .NET. There is no such thing as .NET Core 5 or .NET Core 6, it's just .NET 5 and .NET 6.
- If you were a team lead, tell me how many people were on your team and what your management responsibilities were. It's OK to be a technical lead without people management responsibilities, but if I'm looking for a team leader, make it easy for me to figure it out from your resume.
- Telling me that you have "outstanding interpersonal and communication skills", that you're a "team player", etc. is a waste of space. I will figure out pretty quickly if you have communication skills, and if you get past my interview and are not a team player, you're going to be off the project pretty quickly.
It doesn't take much to ruin a perfectly good technical job history that is going to get ignored by potential employers. Take the time to review your resume and have at least one other person look at it, too. Run it through the grammar/spell checkers in Word or your favorite editor. The checkers do get hung up on product names, but it doesn't take long to tell it to ignore the term.
If you want me to take a look at your resume, I'd be happy to do so… just click here to contact me.