Monday, October 29, 2007

Write a resume that will land you a programming job..PART 2

Show me that you are different

Even if my project is a run-of-the-mill Web-based, data driven application (which it is not), I still want to see that you are more than someone with 10 years of experience writing run-of-the-mill Web-based, data driven applications. For example, compare these two items:

East Coast Power - Programmer 1999 - 2005

* Wrote VB applications to control machinery. The hardware interface was handled in a COM library that was written by another team. Application was robust and reliable.
* Wrote Web-based tool to track system faults.
* Created Web service to allow partners to consume portions of the database.

East Coast Power - Programmer 1999 - 2005

* Wrote VB applications to control nuclear reactor. Real-time control and monitoring of systems handling 10,000 unique data inputs per second.
* Wrote advanced algorithms in C# to detect imminent system failure, which were used within a Web-based application.
* Created Web service in C# to allow partners to access data in a secure, reliable, and responsive manner; typical data set was 1,000,000 rows and concurrency challenges needed to be overcome at the database and application layers.

See the difference? Control machinery does not help me much – you could have been working on the elevator system for all I know. Programming a nuclear reactor impresses me, especially since there has not been any nuclear reactor disasters during your employment. Writing advanced algorithms in C# touches my engineer’s heart; whereas writing a mere Web-based tool is ho hum. And, while writing a Web service is fairly simple, particularly in ASP.Net, it’s not so easy to write one that is “secure, reliable, and responsive” with that size of a data set. It’s also not easy to deal with concurrency issues at two different levels.

I am not saying that it needs to be wordy or full of minute details, but if you are doing work beyond what a summer intern could do, I need to know about it. Every developer has written a Web-based, data driven application. Show me more.

Make sure that your experience highlights your skills

I don’t expect your employment history to include a list of all your skills. But if you are looking for work as a .Net developer, show me that you have done some .Net work. If you do not list that experience, I am going to assume that you have little or no experience with it — even if it is on your skill list. If you have large amounts of experience outside of the workforce, find a way to show that on your resume.

Keep your resume between two to four pages long

I have struggled through seven-page resumes filled with jargon and boring details that made me want to cry. An overly long resume doesn’t necessarily make me rule out a candidate, but why make it hard on me?

On the other hand, a resume that tries to stick to the one page rule is not going to cut it for a technical person unless they are new to the field. In my experience, two to four pages is just right. Also, please use some whitespace, so I do not feel like I am drowning.

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