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Three Strategies for Your Next Resume

3 min read

There are suggestions out there on how to improve the quality of an online resume (such as LinkedIn) or the dead-tree classic version thereof. Amazingly, I’ve seen tons of cases where people simple ignore those valuable tips. Based on years staring at hundreds of CVs, the following three points are simple ways which have been proven again and again to capture the attention of the hiring crew.

Highlight your achievements, not your responsibilities

If you are a good family man and you want to brag about it, you won’t just say “I provide food and shelter to my family” since that’s just given. What kind of family man are you if you don’t do that? You need to go further and excite people with how you love your wife and kids.

It’s very common to see a resume which contains items such as:

Install CentOS, setup Node.js, configure MongoDB.

Use Microsoft Visual Studio.

None of this stands out. There are millions college kids who can do that. In fact, if that is part of your job responsibilities, then by default those things are already expected from you. Write down assignments which you have successfully achieved:

Develop a Node.js module to interface with Oracle Big Data Connector.

Improved the speed of Mercurial plugin for Visual Studio by 250%.

Describe your project, not your alter ego

If you are a fresh graduate, not much of career experience you can highlight. On the other hand, various projects you have done during your university time can be presented as a show case of what you have mastered. The trick here is the point of view.

Consider the following description in your CV:

Passionate about graphics.

Love to inspire other developers.

Most recruiter won’t have an idea of what that is. Your potential new boss can’t figure out how your passion and inspiration would help his big project. And what does this sentence even mean? Did you read Foley and van Dam cover to cover and that’s just it? The fact is, nobody cares. You might as well express your love to cats and horses and that won’t change anything.

Once you turn this into something like:

Designed and coded a multithreaded ray tracer (5000 lines of C++).

Organize a monthly Scala meetup, with over 50 participants

then it becomes more meaningful. Now it’s rather easy for the hiring manager to guess what you have gone through. If your recognized skill won’t fit exactly to what he needs, he may keep that in mind and match that with other things he plans. And of course, it’s all about metrics so keep everything as quantitative as possible.

Make every word count

Your CV is your strategy to land an amazing new position, it should not become your dissertation. If possible, capture the essence and turn it into a list with just a few items. Learn mind mapping and harness its power for this purpose. Avoid lengthy, buzzword-laden paragraphs if the same thing can be described in fewer words. It can’t go worse if you sprinkle the resume with the overused Linked buzzwords:

Dynamic, motivated, and visionary technical leader with extensive organizational experience, proven track record in communication skills, and demonstrated history of delivering result-oriented innovative problem solving solutions. Skilled people manager and effective line manager for a creative, collaborative team in a global and diverse engineering organizations.

Why don’t you just say something like the following?

15 years of management experience

Surely your potential new employer can easily deduce that those years were spent dealing with various organization issues. Making it less bombastic does actually help. Obviously, supply more metrics and other achievements as outline in the previous two strategies.

Not every hiring staff has a photographic memory. Keep it short, simple, and easily memorized.

Good luck with the adventure!

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