The Biggest Tech Resume Show-Stoppers

4 min

To manage the expectation, this article is not about photos, fonts, or a pdf-vs-doc holy wars, but about true-to-life roadblocks that prevent many applicants from getting better jobs.

To begin with, my belief is that overall the resume is given too much attention and its value and impact are overestimated. It is done due to the big number of bog-standard recruiters and man-on the street candidates. A professional recruiter will phone interview even a candidate with a third rate resume or at least will search for more information about the person on the web and a bush-leaguer will decline even James Gosling’s application.

Though it doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t have an efficient resume. Exactly the opposite! Resume still, fortunately, or unfortunately remains the main working document in the hiring process. Besides, the true professionals do everything professionally, that’s all there is to say.

But the market situation calls the shots and sets the trends. And a senior front-end developer even with a trashy resume hardly lacks recruiters’ attention. Also due to the worldwide tech talent shortage, the demands to tech resumes scaled back and many employers turn the blind eye to some discrepancies and inaccuracies in candidates’ resumes to be able to somehow fill the vacancies. This entailed an increase in the number of candidates, especially those in passive search, who do not care at all about the resume part of the hiring process or claim be a ‘no-resume-person’ and send URL to their LinkedIn or GitHub (the best case scenario) profiles if any.

Well, one may, of course, venture to do this if they apply not for the specific position or company and just need another job or +/- 300 USD raise. But if the job opening is really cool, there will be competition and tough pre-selection process, so better to stand out, and not in a negative light.

Plus, it is very rare when LinkedIn profiles are well-filled in (and they are more burdensome to do than to prepare a decent resume). Not mentioning that those automatically generated resumes look awfully, are illegible, and therefore speak disrespect: the company set some job application rules and if you want to collaborate with the company, show respect to its rules even if you disagree with them.

As for Github links, it great when a recruiter can showcase your coding skills to the tech lead, but for the recruiters themselves your, “All my project are on Github” don’t say anything, so better to give a short description of your works.

Therefore, just for the sake of your personal image on the market, well-write a resume even if you have no end of offers or just apply for a typical vacancy in whatever company. For the start, make sure that your resume is NOT:

1. Vacancy-unrelated. I believe this is the “cardinal sin” of all resume writers. It is mainstream to blame recruiters for copy-pasting vacancy requirements to everyone regardless of experience and expertise and, well, the critic is well-deserved. But the same happens when a dev sends the one-size-fits-all resume to every company regardless of its needs. Of course, when you’re in active job search, it’s tempting to use a generic, cookie-cutter resume and blast it out everywhere you’re applying to. But such an approach automatically implies, “I’m not interested in your company, I just need a job.”

For example, when a job opening requires multithreading it’s logical to say more than one word about this experience. Or if a sysadmin sends the identical resumes for both DevOps and Sysadmin positions, the chance to be selected for the first role significantly drop. So, fine-tune your resume and customise to the company needs and it shall be given to you.

2. Responsibilities-based vs accomplishments-based. It is also tempting to just list all the stuff you did in your last few jobs — but it is both quite boring to read and kind of disrespectful.Resumes abound with cliches, such as “Coordinated project activities and resources, communicated with customers to identify scope and objectives or tested API and web application.” Facepalm!Recruiters and hiring managers know what a PM or QA does. They what to know what were the results of your activities, what did you achieve in your role. Do not echo each other or job description. Instead, shape your duties into accomplishments that truly convey your qualifications for the job. Show how good you are at your job. Resume should be a kind of snapshot of your wins and successes, related keywords, dollars, percentages, and numbers — this what shows how you can help your new employer.

Handy real-resume records:

  • Setup the test lab that emulated real-life customers’ infrastructure with a distributed network and various endpoint.
  • As a QA Test Engineer, I recognised quality assurance need in email marketing activities, taught developers a number of testing approaches.
  • Implemented migration of identity card services from a legacy platform to Azure (20 000 mh)

3. Vague wording. It’s also a bad idea to bust out the buzzwords, that is tossing around words like synergy, strategic, specialized, leadership, passionate, focused, creative, enthusiastic.This sort of abstraction without something to back that up, without clear achievements to prove the credibility of the words — it doesn’t really mean anything. What to do instead? Be utmost specific. Rather than using vague, cliche phrases, highlight your specific skills and talents. Be creative and attract the reader’s attention with words and phrases that sizzle and are straight to the point.

And remember, ”The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” (Thomas Jefferson)

4. TL; DR and vice versa. All-too-common resume mistakes are too much and not enough information. It is weird, when someone claims to write Ruby, PHP, ASP.NET, Python code, develop mobile applications, internet shops and do a bit of design. The same as to mention that you a Java developer in Х company, B2B software solutions.

5. Irrelevant information. Altogether with the wishy-washy language is pointless information. Whatever you did, being a sophomore, worked in McDonald’s or delivered pizza or was a night shift in, it’s great to mention if you are a junior and want to show that you tried to bread yourself during your studies. But after some years it becomes insignificant even for a mid developer and absolutely space-waste for a senior tech position. Just do not confuse, for example, if someone applies for tech PM for fin domain project, bank experience would be a plus and relevant, in this case.

Unrelated information about being divorced is also out-of-place in your resume. And it is not that HR managers want robots instead of people, just at this stage, this info is insignificant and of no value. Besides, in business context professional resume should be profession-related.

6. Language matters. It is important not only what you tell but how you tell it and so be careful with words and make each of them work for you. For instance, writing in passive voice reduces the impact of your words and accomplishments. You want to show yourself taking action so be sure to use active verbs when writing your resume’s bullet points.

When describing your previous job history, all bullet points should start with an action verb. And if you choose to write in complete sentences, be consistent and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll have a sloppy resume that doesn’t flow well. While this may sound like pretty basic stuff, you wouldn’t believe how often applicants make this careless mistake.

7. Using resume writers. Well, it might work, if you have enough money to pay for a unique vacancy-related resume. Though my advice is to work up a sweat for several hours and have an efficient resume that you will have down pat, then socially approved ideas in sophisticated phrases. Besides, many resume writers use complicated loaded advanced language, trying to satisfy the client and show off, so if you hardly speak even intermediate English, your cheat will be spotted by recruiter immediate. Minus bull point, do you really need it? But you choose, anyway.

I believe these are the main and though a bit generalised deal-breakers, the rest is a matter of taste. Or if you want to stick to the status of ‘no-resume-person’ and still find a decent job, the only way out is to use!

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