Building a Better Resumé
Which types of resumes do (and don't) work.
- By Greg Neilson
I’ve seen several different types
of resumes mentioned on career Web sites. They’re usually
chronological or skills-based. Which is the better type?
Should I break my resume down by skills or by the duties
I’ve had at each job? Are different kinds of resumes
better for different purposes?
—Chris Edwards, MCSE, MCP+Internet
Technical support analyst
To me, the answer is that it doesn’t really matter. Resumes are
great — and we all need a current one — but many of us
spend too much time agonizing over them. Their only function,
generally, is to get us an interview. The interview is
what actually gets us the job — so it follows we should
spend as much time as possible practicing and preparing
for the interview.
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At most, I spend 10 to 15 minutes reviewing a resume.
From this I can determine whether or not this is someone
I’d want to interview. Keep in mind that in my current
role, I’m hiring people for server implementation work
for Windows NT and Novell NetWare and their related products.
These people need to have advanced skill levels, and this
is what I’m looking for. If I were looking for more junior
people, I’d need to spend more time looking for signs
of potential in their careers to date or extracurricular
activities, which would take more time. Whatever you’re
trying to say to employers, you need to make sure the
message is clear and easily digestible.
There are a couple of things I do want to say about resumes.
Fancy formatting is out, as nowadays it’s very common
to send a text resume via the Internet. And, often, hirers
scan resumes into their computers for faster searching.
Make sure that you spellcheck your resume thoroughly and
have someone check the language usage. I often get resumes
with poor spelling or with strange sentence structures;
straightaway that tells me these people will be of no
use when it comes to documentation tasks, as the resume
supposedly represents their best writing efforts.
Also, never lie or embellish the truth — you’ll get found
out eventually. Once you are, no one will believe anything
you say or have said in the past. I’m sure we’ve all seen
the news of late where CEOs of companies with great career
track records have been found out and discredited after
feeling the need to add to their resumes. So let this
be a lesson: If you wouldn’t dare show your resume to
all your previous managers, then it might be a cue to
change the contents.
Lastly, I should warn you about the use of certification
logos in resumes. There’s a range of views about this
— some think they’ve worked hard enough for their certification
and deserve the right to be able to use the logo. At the
other end of the spectrum, some feel that they really
detract from the resume. I’m not a big fan of seeing logos
in resumes and, because there are many who really don’t
like them, I’d recommend not using them.
One tip that someone from an mcpmag.com forum once mentioned
that I’d like to repeat here is the idea of printing business
cards with — on the back — a list of three or four key
things you would like potential employers to know about
you. These are great to hand out at career fairs and really
grab attention better than a resume.
Once your resume has earned you an interview, that’s
when your work should really start. We addressed interview
questions in MCP Magazine’s
June 2000 article, "Win
the Interview Game,” so I’ll refer you to that issue [See both Greg's and Steve's columns.—Ed.], but you really need to be able to answer with ease and
poise and without a sense of panic. Best of luck with
your job hunting!
Greg Neilson is a manager at a large IT services firm in Australia and has been a frequent contributor to MCPmag.com and CertCities.com.