Mid-Career Resume: You Don't Need a Shoe Horn

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Signs Your Resume Is 'Old School'

Don't miss out on interview opportunities because of an out-of-date resume.

In a post at TechRepublic, Randy Barger writes about retooling his resume after being rejected by three potential clients because they couldn't tell from his resume that he had the expertise they needed. Experienced IT pros have a lot on their resumes, he says, but one issue was that his resume could land him a job as an administrator or engineer, but he was looking for work as an architect or consultant. That wasn't clear.


You have to customize your resume to the specific job you're seeking and since the whole point of a resume is to spark the hiring manager's interest enough to call you, don't list everything you've ever done. It's not all relevant. (And you can't make it all fit anyway, without being pages and pages.)


To Barger's credit, he asked some friends who were IT hiring managers to critique his resume. One told him:

Yep, I'd have thrown it right in the trash.

Ouch. But he needed to hear that. And he sought their help in improving his resume.


So among his pointers:

  • Keep your list of "core skills" short and sweet. List too many and employers get the impression you don't have deep knowledge about them.
  • Don't list certification exams. (He says that's for newbies; focus on your accomplishments instead. And remember the difference between duties and accomplishments.)
  • Quantify projects and results. Talk about how you used technology to solve business problems.
  • Bullets, bullets, bullets. Don't use a paragraph style to describe your projects, just the basic facts. This is where resume writing becomes an exercise like writing for USA Today - how much detail can you squeeze into the smallest space? It totally must be relevant to survive the final editing.

It's so hard to know how much detail is the "just-right" amount. Of course, you need proper context and clear, simple language so that a non-technical HR person, who might be doing the first pass on the resumes, won't dismiss it out of frustration.


In her book, "The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or Any Top Tech Company," Gayle Laakmann McDowell, who sat on Google's hiring committee, critiques some resumes. Although the book is geared more for less-experienced folks, it does offer some insight into the "just-right" amount of detail for those bullet points. Here are some examples:


  • Created service to provide gradient across VS and VS add-ins. Optimized service by 29% by caching toolbar gradient paintbrushes.
  • Built app to compute similarity of all methods in a code base; reduced time from O(n 2) to O(n log n), enabling processing on Windows source to completed in a mere hour, down from 40 hours.


Having a lot of experience means you'll have to be a pretty wicked editor, slicing and dicing what you've written until it's down to solely the most impressive stuff. Look at the job posting, now look at your resume. Make it say specifically that you're that person.


Then ask your friends to read it and give honest feedback.

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