Put Common Sense to

By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-06-30 Print this article Print

  1. Avoid the personal A lot of people were once told to add some personal information to a résumé to humanize it. This is no longer considered advisable.
    "Dont put anything personal on your résumé. Nobody cares that you like to play football on the weekend. It makes it look too amateurish and has nothing to do with your career. Nobody needs to know you are a member of the Elks Club unless it has to do with your career. If it does, list it under Network Associations at the bottom of your résumé, which will also throw in words for keyword searching," Turner said.
    Another aspect of the personal that should be avoided on résumés is the use of personal pronouns. "A résumé is a form of business communication, which should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should not be any mention of I or me and only minimal use of articles," Isaacs wrote. An easy way to edit a sentence that includes a personal pronoun is to simply drop the pronoun, changing "I used Java to implement a redesign" to "Used Java to implement a redesign."
  2. Cover letters are not critical Some people dash off cover letters at the last minute, customizing them for each potential place of employment, while others keep a standard letter on file and use it with each application. But, whichever approach one takes, the open format is what causes the majority of techies the greatest anxiety, so its good news that cover letters are no longer essential. "Cover letters are important, but not critical. Theyre important if youre applying directly to a company, in which case you should customize it for that company by studying their site and getting all the information you can. But cover letters for third-party recruiters arent critical. The ATS system even strips them out," Turner said.
  3. Dont spend 100 hours on it The stress many feel when looking for a new job often causes them to put too much emphasis on getting a résumé perfect—and to sink dozens of hours into what ought to be just a one- to two-page summary of their employment history. Turner suggests to IT workers a three-step process for getting their résumés in shape with a minimum of time spent and self-imposed frenzy. "The best way to write an IT résumé is to take a blank piece of paper and write down everything you know. Come back an hour later refreshed, and write it quickly. Take a break, eat some lunch, come back and reread it as if you were a recruiter. Put yourself in the recruiters shoes," Turner said. Turner said he knows its hard not to be biased when reading your own résumé, but that taking that break will help you come back with a fresh view. Most importantly, "You cant write it all in one sitting." When youre confident in the résumé you have created, have a boss, friend or family member look at it before you put it out there. "It doesnt have to be a qualified person in your field. A lot of the people reading the résumés are managers and CIOs and not people in HR. These people just want to know what you can do," Turner said. As for résumé-writing services, Turner said there are a lot out there, but theyre best for execs and not necessary for most IT workers.
  4. Go old school It may sound revolutionary in this Internet age, but Turner said sometimes sending in your résumé in a less common way will attract notice. "Users often say, Hey, Im putting my résumé out there and nobody is replying," Turner said. "One thing that is unique and rarely done is faxing résumés. Nobody does this anymore. You could stand out this way. Do a custom cover letter for the company, and its not hard to track down a companys fax line. You can direct it to the HR department or to the person who runs IT." Although Turner doesnt recommend calling a place that you would like to work, he does encourage job seekers to find out who they would be working for and network to get the résumé right in front of them … just like the old days.
  5. Use common sense Even broaching this topic may seem insulting to someone who has worked with computers and the Internet for a span of time, but as recruiters say people are still stumbling on the basics, wed be remiss not to share these gems.
    • Assume that any future employer will do a quick Web search on you. "Keep your personal life off MySpace! If we see something on MySpace thats not good for the company, we are not going to hire you. If you going to do something stupid, at least dont use your real name. Its okay to have a home page and link to your work, but we really dont want to find out that youre a stripper at night, etc.," Turner said.
    • Get a professional e-mail address "Make sure to have a recruiter-friendly e-mail address. Dont put webpimp@aol.com on your résumé and expect to get a lot of responses," Turner said.
    • Dont botch it when you get in the door "The days of IT where you could drink your beer and play pool at work are over," Turner said. Which means, he continued, dont wear your Led Zeppelin t-shirt and dont arrive late. "You need to sit up straight and be ready for the job. Some might disagree, but I dont think a suit and tie are necessary. But you should be nicely, casually dressed."
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